Re: UK Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) review

From: Linda Humphreys <>
Date: Fri, 29 Nov 2002 15:44:26 +0000

On Fri, 29 Nov 2002 14:33:46 +0000 Jan Velterop wrote:
> I'm not so sure that they <scientists> do understand the
> concepts and benefits of open access. That is simply
> because they haven't really been exposed to them. The
> librarians have been very good in making it seem to many scientists as if
> access to their desired journal titles is free and easy. The researchers
> don't feel the pain. To them, as readers, it may often seem as if large
> parts of the literature are open access.

At the University of Bath, academic staff are well aware of
the costs and barriers to access of traditional journals,
and I think the same would be true of most similar
institutions. Budgets for journals have been tight for
years, and we librarians liaise very closely with academic
staff over cancellations, and the purchase of electronic

We carried out a survey earlier this year of academic staff
views of e-prints. Only 74 replied - perhaps that is par
for the course, or perhaps it backs up Jan's assertion that
they are largely ignorant of open access/e-print issues?
The majority of replies were from scientists. You might be
interested in a few results?

Out of the 74 respondents:
- 11 had posted articles on personal or departmental web
- 3 had posted to an e-print server
- 11 had used an e-print server for research and/or teaching

They appeared to be generally well-informed of the problems
surrounding self-archiving:
- 62 expressed concern that if they posted a pre-print they
would not be able to get the work published in their chosen
- 60 said that copyright issues would be an important
factor in any decision not to self-archive post-prints
- 59 were concerned about quality and peer review issues
- 60 were concerned about plagiarism

There seem to be several issues surrounding quality and
peer review, including the common misconception about
self-archiving being an alternative to self-publishing, and
impact factors (which have been discussed at length on this
list). Also, a number of staff have commented that they
would not wish to include their work in an archive which
contained non-refereed material (pre-prints), the
perception being that any inclusion of poor-quality papers
reflects badly on the whole Institution.

The concerns about plagiarism baffle me somewhat -
presumably it is just as easy to plagiarise an electronic
article on a toll-access publisher site as an e-print! I
wonder if this is really about who will protect the
author's rights in the event of plagiarism from a pre-print
on an e-print server?

Regarding copyright, I was interested to note the Springer
Verlag copyright transfer form, which begins:
"The copyright to the contribution identified above is
transferred to Springer-Verlag ..(for U.S. government
employees: to the extent transferable)."
Presumably the U.S. government is retaining at
least some degree of copyright in work which is funded by
the taxpayer - does anyone have more information about
that? Is anyone (JISC? SCONUL?) lobbying the British
government and/or Universities to do likewise?


Linda Humphreys
Science Faculty Librarian
University of Bath
Claverton Down
Bath BA2 7AY
01225 385248
Received on Fri Nov 29 2002 - 15:44:26 GMT

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