Open Access: a game changer?

US Congress has introduced a bill that would mandate public access to publicly-funded federal research. The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR) was introduced in Congress February 14 on a bi-partisan basis. The bill would require that federal agencies with annual extramural research budgets of $100 million provide the public with online access to research manuscripts stemming from publicly-funded research no later than six months after publication in a peer-reviewed journal. If enacted in law, the Act will have impact on academic publishing, including mathematics education research, all over the world.

Some quotes from the Act

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Matt Boelkins on free open source textbooks

In August 2009, the MAA published the article The House That Calculus Built (James Stewart and the House That Calculus Built – Mathematical …) regarding the amazing manse that James Stewart constructed using the fortune earned from his excellent calculus texts.  When I read the article, I experienced a mix of feelings, but mostly I felt like the article was mistitled:  The House that Calculus Students Paid For.

There are, of course, good reasons that Stewart has made (and continues to make) so much money from his texts.  They’re very well done.  The writing is crisp; the problems interesting; and there are few to no errors.  He also has multiple versions with different styles and perspectives (and, of course, the requisite multiple editions of each).   It makes sense that a large number of college faculty have elected to use his books.

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“Gold” open access: implications for mathematics education research

A comment by Mark to a paper in Times Higher Education:

The call for “gold” open access (whether it comes from the report or the government) looks like yet another example of policy-makers failing to appreciate the differences in the structure of research across disciplines. In some areas (esp. the experimental sciences) research is only conducted by those with access to external funding, which would require only a slight increase to cover publishing costs. But in others (esp. “lone scholar” subjects such as mathematics and the arts), a great deal of quality research is done by academic staff with no external funding, and also by retired staff (some with emeritus positions, some with no affiliation at all). Who is going to foot the bill for this research to be published in quality journals if we move to an “author-pays” model?

In my opinion, “mathematics education research”  can be added to the list of disciplines disadvantaged by the “author pays” model of publishing.

“Author pays” model of open access is adopted by RCUK and HEFCE

This news changes research environment in the UK not only for mathematics but also for education research, and therefore deserves being mentioned here.

David Willetts accepted in full all recommendations of the Finch Report directed at adoption of the “gold model” (also known as the “Article Processing Charge” model, that is, “the author pays for publication” model) of open access to research publications. Some funds for publication will be provided by universities. A statement from HEFCE:

As a first step, we would like to make clear that institutions can use the funds provided through our research grant to contribute towards the costs of more accessible forms of publication, alongside funding from other sources.

In the coming months, the four UK HE funding bodies will develop proposals for implementing a requirement that research outputs submitted to a REF or similar exercise after 2014 shall be as widely accessible as may be reasonably achievable at the time.  We will consult all our partners in research funding, and a wide range of other interested bodies, before finalising our plans.

And this is from RCUK:

[F]rom 1 April 2013 and until further notice, RCUK will solely pay for APCs through block grants to UK Higher Education Institutions, approved independent research organisations and Research Council Institutes.