Editor’s Note: This post was co-authored by Karin Wulf and Simon Newman, Sir Denis Brogan Professor of American History at the University of Glasgow; Vice President of the Royal Historical Society (RHS) for Publications; co-editor of the RHS’s New Historical Perspectives Open Access monograph series.

One of the most important lessons of the debates and policy shifts around Open Access (OA) has been the hard-won recognition that no one size fits all.  In particular, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and HSS (Humanities and Social Sciences) not only have very different requirements and practices, but individual disciplines and fields within disciplines have distinctive research and publication needs. An obvious case was made by art historians who noted that rigid OA requirements would be disastrous for their publication of images that often require specific permissions and licensing. In the arts and humanities we do not own much of the data utilized in our articles, and we can’t license OA to our publications without the consent of multiple rights-owners. The point is valid for any number of scholarly fields in favor of different paths to openness and accessibility.

arrows missing target

Yet it seems we are yet again headed down the road of a scheme to compel monolithic OA. One of the most challenging effects of OA is the burden on librarians to reconcile the multitude of Green OA policies among institutions, funders and publishers. This burden is real and can be measured in terms of increased demands for increasingly limited resources, including staff time. An ambitious answer to resolving that problem, the UK Scholarly Communications License (SCL), will simply shift burdens, and may not in the end ease those of librarians or increase OA publication. Most importantly, from our vantage, it will make scholarly publication more difficult, and in some cases will make it impossible for UK authors to publish in top journals while abiding by the terms of the SCL. Though it promises a single, simple solution, it will result in adding yet one more complex layer of bureaucracy and oversight. And it seems to be on a fast track through much of UK higher education.

The SCL offers a seemingly simple solution. It takes aim at copyright as a means to increase OA publication.  The notion is that research organizations — funders, but very often universities — will assert a “non-exclusive license” to the work of their grantees or employees. Rather than the author’s, or more commonly the publisher’s, copyright holding supreme in the rights to use and distribution of their work, this non-exclusive license would allow the institution to control distribution and reuse. Green OA embargoes under different allowances would be harmonized under a single license style (CC-BY-NC). Deposit of various work versions in institutional repositories would therefore be eased, and derivative use unproblematic. The assertion is that publishers, if they are alerted ahead to the mere existence of the SCL, will have no standing to make claims to use or distribution because these will be superseded by the SCL.

There are any number of issues to be addressed in the premises of the UK Scholarly Communications License, among them the longstanding and keen interest of higher education in acquiring intellectual property rights to the work of their researchers. But we want to focus here on some of the implications for our discipline, history, as illustrative. History research is published in journals, but it is very much a book discipline. The publishing systems for each are themselves distinctive. History journals are mostly published by non-profit organizations, often university presses, and require intensive editorial work. Because the formulation of text in argument is the primary research output, derivative use is not as applicable or desirable as it might be for other fields. That is, we produce essays with interpretive arguments, not data or experimental findings. Additionally, institutional publication of scholarly articles raises all kinds of issues related to intellectual property and third-party rights. Scholars across the arts and humanities regularly cite or use in their articles third-party sources (including privately and institutionally owned manuscripts and printed works, poetry, literature music, art etc.). It is extremely unlikely that the rights holders of such materials will abandon their third-party rights and allow libraries to publish their materials. The result will be an administrative burden for libraries and academics, and create potential legal problems too. Historical organizations have devised a variety of ways to increase the reach of these outputs. And for these reasons and more, historians have strongly advocated for flexible approaches to Open Access. Many convenings have resulted in the development of Green OA to recognize the diversity of needs and practices of disciplines and fields, primarily but not only in HSS.

The SCL rests significant weight on a license model used at Harvard University, asserting its success at Harvard and its adoption by  many American universities. The Harvard model is actually several entirely voluntary license forms with different application, which in turn have been embraced with varying degrees of enthusiasm across that institution. There is no evidence that the so-called Harvard model is widespread or that it may become so. A close look at the Harvard model at Harvard suggests just why it proves a problematic template for something as ambitiously uniform as the SCL.

First, the Harvard model is more of a statement of institutional preference than a directive, and it is entirely voluntary on the part of academic staff who are not compelled to participate. Many academics in the arts and humanities do not participate, and at least fifteen members of the Harvard History Department have deposited no articles in the repository. Some may have requested waivers for all of their articles while others appear to have simply bypassed the system completely. The Harvard License for Arts and Sciences (just one of at least four iterations of the Harvard license) is supplemented by the terms of use for Harvard’s institutional repository, and taken together these allow third-party usage in terms similar to a CC-BY-NC-ND license. In short, the SCL does not align with Harvard practices.

At Harvard waivers are automatically granted upon request or direction of the author, and Harvard’s supporting documentation indicates that the university will respect delays/embargoes on the direction of authors. By contrast the SCL provides no guarantee that UK institutions will grant author requests for waivers, or that these institutions will respect journal embargo periods. The SCL authorizes simultaneous institutional publication of peer-reviewed papers, thus failing to acknowledge the value added by journals and their editorial processes in orchestrating peer review and quality assurance: embargoes recognize this value and allow journals to benefit from this work. In short, the SCL does not come close to emulating Harvard’s system. The UK Publishers Association has recently published their concerns about the SCL as it pertains to STEM and HSS, and have offered a chart comparing the Harvard model(s) and the SCL.

Many arts and humanities journals are published by small professional organizations and learned or professional societies, often by university presses. These are small operations, which provide high quality, peer reviewed publications at relatively low cost to institutional and individual subscribers. In field of early modern American and Atlantic World history institutions can receive The William and Mary Quarterly for $175, The Journal of the Early Republic for $120, and Early American Studies for $91. Subscriptions and revenue from JSTOR and MUSE are essential in the funding of their editorial work and peer review processes. The editors of all three of these early American/Atlantic World journals have indicated not only that only would they not publish any articles by UK authors that had been licensed to institutions under the SCL, but they would in fact refuse to consider (and send out for peer review) manuscripts by UK authors unless a waiver (and 12 to 24 month embargo) is furnished at the point of submission. Prof. Cathy Kelly (editor of The Journal of the Early Republic) “would be loath to publish work” under the terms of the SCL, while Roderick McDonald (editor of Early American Studies) confirmed “that my journal will not publish articles whose authors have pre-published their work with a Creative Commons License in their institutional repositories.” James Grossman, executive director of the American Historical Association (publisher of the American Historical Review) expressed concern about authors’ control over derivative publications, such as translations, and the implication that an unedited version of an article is acceptable for digital “prepublication.”  “The AHA believes strongly in openness and broad access to scholarship, and works in a range of ways to promote these values,” he explained,  “but I cannot imagine the AHR accepting the requirements apparently articulated in the SCL”

The SCL and similar systems are designed with the very best intentions, to make scholarship freely available to all. But any system that undermines the small arts and humanities journals that enhance the quality of research through their editorial, peer review and quality assurance processes, or which makes such journals inaccessible to academics operating under such institutional licensing systems is manifestly counter-productive.

The editors of UK-based historical journals such as the English Historical Review and Slavery and Abolition have expressed similar positions. Gad Heuman (editor of Slavery and Abolition) confirms that his journal would not “consider articles for publication which operated under the UK SCL scheme.” What all of these journal editors share is a strong sense that the SCL ignores what the editors of the English Historical Review term their role “as custodians of a journal which we think acts as a guarantor of scholarly quality.” Direct publication via institutional repositories, they continue, is “entirely neglectful of the major role that historians themselves play in ensuring the quality of the material published in major scholarly journals.” The SCL fails to recognize that journals add significant value to articles: in the arts and humanities (and beyond) articles are not ‘data dumps’, and often require extensive peer review and editorial support and critique in order to enable authors to publish high quality research, and any OA model for journals must accommodate and indeed sustain this. The SCL does not. It works on the assumption that publishers would ask authors to seek waivers only in a small number of cases but the reverse is the case, and the Publishers Association (in a letter to university Vice Chancellors) estimate that UK universities would need to process waivers for 100,000 articles each year, creating a massive administrative burden for authors, their institutions and libraries with no clear benefit.

The SCL and similar systems are designed with the very best intentions, to make scholarship freely available to all. But any system that undermines the small arts and humanities journals that enhance the quality of research through their editorial, peer review and quality assurance processes, or which makes such journals inaccessible to academics operating under such institutional licensing systems is manifestly counter-productive. If the SCL is introduced in many British universities, it will work only if waivers are granted without condition, and arts and humanities academics will find that in order to publish in the best journals they will almost always require such waivers. CC-BY-NC-ND licenses will be essential to protect academic research from inappropriate reuse, as is the case with the Harvard license and terms-of-usage. With these qualifications the SCL becomes all but unworkable.

Open Access remains the shared goal of academics, libraries, universities and government. In order to develop workable models it will be necessary to start from scratch, with an international consultative and creative process including all stake-holders. The SCL has been developed by librarians with little or no consultation with academics, journal editors, publishers or even the Universities UK Open Access Coordination Group (UUK OACG), with the result that it make sense to certain stake-holders while appearing inappropriate, unworkable and undesirable to others. Prof. Adam Tickell (Chair of UUK OACG, and Vice Chancellor of the University of Sussex) has written to British university vice chancellors outlining the pros and cons of the SCL and warning that “This initiative represents the most significant threat to the post-Finch settlement that we have witnessed”. Noting that several groups including UUK OACG are due to publish major reports on OA in late 2017 and 2018, Prof. Tickell advises that it may well be in the best interests of British universities “to defer any decisions until this evidence gathering and policy review is completed.”

We echo Prof. Tickell’s caution, and seek ways of bringing together librarians, research directors, academics, journal editors and publishers to discuss both the SCL and Open Access more broadly. With that objective we are planning a video-conferenced workshop this Fall, using history as a case-study, with stakeholders from both sides of the Atlantic.  We will write more about the results of this convening, and in the meantime urge all parties to slow track the SCL, taking time to consider the variable impact and the potential for unintended complexities and burdens.

Karin Wulf

Karin Wulf

Karin Wulf is the Beatrice and Julio Mario Santo Domingo Director and Librarian at the John Carter Brown Library and Professor of History, Brown University. She is a historian with a research specialty in family, gender and politics in eighteenth-century British America and has experience in non-profit humanities publishing.


40 Thoughts on "Missing the Target: The UK Scholarly Communications License"

No one size fits all! A very well written contribution! Congratulations. We have to look at diversity, also in Brussels. The main theme of the APE 2018 conference will be ‘Publishing 2020 – Ramping up Relevance’. Dates: 16-17 January 2018 in the Academy of Sciences and Humanities in Berlin

The SCL will affect all publishers in all subjects if it is adopted – which will be disastrous for UK Science.
The Harvard model is “ignored” by top scientists at Harvard because it restricts choice and the freedom to choose where to publish their work, i.e., prevents them from publishing in the most prestigious journals in their subject area (knowledge gained directly from two Harvard Profs).

Thanks for your comment– we actually didn’t directly ask our colleagues in history at Harvard to comment for this piece, but we’re interested in their and other responses. It seemed to us and to others we quoted in the piece, as well as folks we consulted, that the real key to the Harvard model is that it is not compulsory. This has been crucial to making OA grow– voluntarism in recognition of the diversity of issues we could only gesture at– but it is also the central challenge for those seeking uniformity.

An excellent analysis of the defects of the SCL license! I’m glad to see Jim Grossman pointing to the importance of controlling translation for scholars in the HSS fields, which I have been arguing for years. Some institutional repositories recognize this also; e.g., Penn State’s IR, where I have over 80 articles deposited, uses CC BY-NC-ND as the default. It’s sad that the British creators of this license have missed such fundamental points.

Sandy, as a historian I have my personal views on Creative Commons, as do you have yours, but leaving these aside: the main UK research funder, RCUK, does not accept article deposit under an ND licence. The UK-SCL takes this policy, as well as other funder policies, into account.

If I may, here are some counter-arguments and clarifications to the above piece. These are raised in the order in which they’re raised in the piece, such that the main points are towards the end.

Firstly, there’s an attempt to try to shift focus and couch this as a problem for librarians (and therefore implicitly not a problem for academics) by referring to “the burden on librarians [my emphasis] to reconcile the multitude Green OA policies among institutions, funders and publishers”. To be clear, the burden is on academic authors, as it’s not librarians who are in receipt of research funding or who are submitting work to the Research Excellence Framework – it is academics, and it is they who are required to meet the OA mandates of those funding or evaluating their research. Librarians try their utmost to help the researchers at their institutions meet those requirements – it is certain publishers and societies who construct the obstacles. To this point we must be totally clear – it is not the UK-SCL that would add extra levels of bureaucracy and oversight, it would be publisher over-reactions to the UK-SCL.

Next, it is not correct to claim the licence would allow institutions “to control distribution and reuse” – that would be an exclusive licence (of the kind insisted upon by many publishers), not the nonexclusive licence proposed by the UK-SCL. So, I would counter that this section of the argument is overreaching, and misinterpreting the policy.

I may be misinterpreting the argument here, but if derivative uses are not usually applicable in history, i.e. if derivative works aren’t a commonly accepted output type in history, then the absence of ND surely shouldn’t matter anyway. It’s also worth noting that the end point of this logic is that no AHRC-funded historian can ever comply with the requirements of the funding they have been awarded.

The piece spends some time relating the appalled reactions of journal editors to the thought of pre-publication of articles. This is pretty much the definition of a straw man argument – the UK-SCL has no concern at all with making work available before publication of the formal version of record. So, I would counter that this is a meaningless straw man argument, and that whoever is telling publishers and/or academics that the UK-SCL envisages a sudden lurch towards pre-publication of outputs is at best mistaken and at worst lying.

The claim that the licence somehow dismisses the importance of peer review and editorial critique is made with absolutely no evidence to back it up. How is the licence neglectful of the work of peer reviewers? In what ways does making an author accepted manuscript openly accessible diminish the intellectual endeavour of re-writing and improving an article? Such an argument would only make sense if you hold the belief that the intellectual worth of an article is measured by how successful you are at limiting the opportunity for the general public to access it, which represents the very worst of “ivory tower” thinking, especially when applied to a discipline like history where the efforts of researchers without any institutional affiliations can help drive knowledge forward. The licence is not seeking to replace journals and their place as guarantors of quality (though strictly speaking it is the intellectual work of the peer reviewers and editors, who are not “the journal”, that provide this guarantee). The licence is not seeking to change academic behaviour (indeed, part of the rationale behind it is to empower academic authors to comply with funder open access mandates without changing their publishing behaviour). I counter that the claim the licence is dismissive of the intellectual effort of peer review is un-evidenced and incorrect.

The piece then goes on to quote the Publishers Association’s assertion that UK universities “would need [my emphasis] to process waivers for 100,000 articles a year”. In the above paragraph I ask “how?” – in this paragraph I must ask why? Why must publishers seek these waivers? What terrible, catastrophic thing do publishers think will happen if waivers are not sought? There are many publishers who allow availability of AAMs through repositories immediately upon publication with no detriment to their journals or the intellectual endeavours of their authors, reviewers and editors whatsoever – just what do people think will happen if waivers are not sought?

Finally, to address the unspoken – the great unmentioned worry running through all the anti- UK-SCL diatribes thus far is the assumption that if the UK-SCL were widely adopted, institutions around the globe would suddenly en masse start cancelling journal subscriptions. I can assure you that would not be the case, and that reports to the contrary (including previous ones here at the Kitchen) really don’t hold water. There are many reasons why a journal subscription might be cancelled, such as the institution no longer being active in the journal’s field, the price having increased beyond the library budget’s limits, constant demands for new journals that mean older subs must be cut – possible availability of some small percentage of the content in AAM form held in institutional repositories is genuinely not something that even makes the list of possible reasons to cancel. Add to that the fact the UK-SCL would only apply to articles authored by researchers in UK institutions that adopt it, which is going to represent a very small fraction of worldwide content, then the prospect of Subscription Armageddon that seems to be envisaged here is unlikely the say the least.

Which brings us full circle to the opening point – it is not the UK-SCL that represents a threat to the smooth running of academic publishing, but rather needless over-reactions by publishers and societies.

Martin, thank you for your comments. As to whether we are fools or liars, I’ll pick door number 3 and suggest that we may be coming at this from a very different vantage and experience than you are, and that in fact this is our very point. A major achievement of Green OA has been the recognition of diversity in achieving OA aims –and the SCL ignores this diversity.

The below is mostly from Simon (UK time, he’s out of pocket at the moment), but you can take it as reflecting our mutual views:

This is couched as a problem for librarians because it has been designed by librarians, in part to address the cost of implementing Green OA, which many librarians appear to think is unsustainable, so in that sense it is a problem for librarians. Academics are indeed required to meet funder and HEFCE OA mandates, but the current Gold/Green system meets those mandates. Academics are not seeking a change to the system that works: the proposed change is coming from librarians.
Derivatives are always important, and just because they don’t always apply to historians’ work is no reason for historians or other arts/humanities authors to wish to give them up. And what of the added complication of so much of the ‘data’ used by arts and humanities authors in their articles being outside of what we can license?
And as for the ‘straw man’, the SCL wants simultaneous publication with no embargo. Under the SCL more and more work would thus be available simultaneously, benefitting from peer review processes of journals, yet giving libraries and individuals an incentive to stop subscribing to those journals since they could access the articles via institutional repositories without paying. Unlike the SCL, Green OA gives the option of a 2 year embargo. We are not saying the SCL is neglectful of peer review, but rather that the journal editing/peer review system is being undermined (as per above) since an institution will not just be publishing an academic’s work, they will also be publishing that work having benefitted from journal editors’ and peer reviewers’ feedback. If small arts and humanities journals working on tight budgets rely on subscription and JSTOR/MUSE revenue to sustain that editing/peer review, the SCL as it rolls on will likely undermine that: why buy the journal when you get the benefit of the journals’ work free? We find the blanket assertion with no supporting proof that libraries would not cancel subscriptions as worrying as the author finds our assertions that they likely would.
You may disagree with the publishers requiring waivers, but they are clearly stating they will. And if they will, the system collapses. And these are (in the cases we are talking about) small journals, often those of learned societies, professional groups. This is not about big corporate profits, at least not for these journals.

And (Karin again), to return to our conclusion. The SCL needs a much more thorough, thoughtful review by all stakeholders and we suspect that a different solution to the problem its developers and advocates seek to solve will take shape.

And in connection with my earlier piece to which David has graciously linked, consider the emergence of Unpaywall, which is explicitly designed to (among other things) make it as easy as possible for libraries and other subscribers to see which of their subscribed journals are sufficiently represented in Green OA versions to justify cancelation. (Pull quote from the Unpaywall FAQ: “We find fulltext for 50-85% of articles, depending on their topic and year of publication. We think that’s a game-changer for the publishing industry. Now that most articles are free, why subscribe?”)

I really feel like Martin Wolf and I have read different articles.

Where does this stridency come from? Why is it such an offense against all that is good and holy for different fields to have different standards? Why is it so hard to understand that while paying $80,000 a year for a single Engineering journal may threaten a library’s budget, paying $175 a year for a history journal probably does not, and may provide vital operating funds to the society that publishes it? What interest is being served that is so paramount above and beyond, say, the continued health of those societies and the scholarship they support?

Torsten writes of the Harvard model: “Once such a policy is introduced following due process it is legally binding on the authors, so it is not more or less voluntarily than the UK-SCL model. What may well differ is the requirement to deposit, but that is no different with UK institutions.”

I am lost by this. My understanding is that the Harvard model is and remains entirely voluntary. (and for good reason: many professors at Harvard earn significant money from publications that would be captured by OA mandates, and pushed back hard against the idea of a mandate). the UK is much farther along the road of mandating OA. This is what my contacts at Harvard tell me, rather than Suber, who is very much an interested party.

Further, the SCL is entirely about pre-prints. Regardless of the rightness of that position, it is part of a global movement in the UK to force publication exclusively in OA venues. The scorn heaped on non-OA publications by the UK academic establishment is palpable even over here, although we get our share of it as well.

The vehemence of OA advocacy needs to be addressed on its own terms: what is the BENEFIT of this position? WHO is benefited by it? This has never been made clear to me. It might be somewhat clear if we are talking about work on the Zika virus, though even there–exactly what is the critical benefit offered by making sure that non-scientists can access immediate scientific information?

But that’s far astray from the central point here. Who is harmed by allowing Slavery and Abolition to set its own editorial policies? Who is harmed by not having institutional repositories of work that will appear in it? The answers to these questions are far more speculative than the speculative harms for which both both Martin and Torsten critique this article. And the answer to this isn’t to show that X number of people worldwide download the articles; people will download anything. The question is what mission-critical interest is being harmed by allowing authors to make up their own minds whether to deposit or not? And why and how does that interest trump the interest of scholars to make up their own minds about what to do with their publications? The only answers I can even formulate to these questions have to do with distant, non-professionals who may have a passing but not professional interest in scholarly work product. I want to suggest that it is possible to admit that this is a real interest, but to ask whether it truly outweighs the interest of scholarly autonomy. I don’t think it’s even close, and it is disturbing how vehement, to return to this point again, OA advocates are in their insistence that scholars should not have autonomy with regard to their work, and that this is somehow for our benefit. It isn’t. We are telling you we don’t want it, and you keep telling us that it’s good for us and we do. And stridently, and vehemently. You are telling us that our own autonomy interests are better served by doing what we don’t want to do, than by doing what we do want to do. You know what’s good for us better than we do. Even if that’s the case, arguing that we don’t have the right to make that decision is a shot across the bow for anything that is meant by academic freedom.

The case for OA has been made for almost two decades now. We understand it. It works in some places, and much less well in others. At what point will OA advocates admit that it is a direct threat to the academic enterprise to keep saying that many of us do not understand our own rights and interests? You’ve made your case, and now it’s up to us to decide whether we want to do it or not. That many of us only want to go so far–as this piece ably argues–is something anyone who respects academia either has to accept, or has to admit that they really don’t believe academic freedom means scholars get to make up their own minds, even if (as you obviously think) we are wrong.

Thank you for raising awareness of the UK-SCL. I appreciate this is a complicated field and there are different view and concerns, and exactly for that reason I think it is important to address any misconceptions. I see that we already have a detailed response picking up on some of the general points, so I will focus on some of the specific claims.

> And it seems to be on a fast track through much of UK higher education.

Everyone who ever implemented policy in HE institutions knows that there is no such thing as a fast track. The model has been considered and discussed at universities since at least 2014, and it is built on work going back to well before 2008 at Harvard.

> Rather than the author’s, or more commonly the publisher’s, copyright holding supreme in the rights to use and distribution of their work, this non-exclusive license would allow the institution to control distribution and reuse.

As Martin noted this is not correct. The non-exclusive licence is non-exclusive for a reason, and as analysis from the Publishers Association has shown it is actually more restrictive than the one used at Harvard. Authors and institutions only have the right to share the accepted manuscript of scholarly articles for non-commercial use, and only after the version of record has been published. The model supports academic sharing of content, it does not allow institutions to control the distribution.

> That is, we produce essays with interpretive arguments, not data

As a historian myself I would say you are doing humanists a disservice with this statement. Historians and other humanists do indeed produce data to support their arguments. Economic history is just one example.
Also, what is one author’s publication is another researcher’s data. Allowing other researchers to reuse your publications, for example via text and data mining, adds value to scholarship.

> Additionally, institutional publication of scholarly articles raises all kinds of issues related to intellectual property and third-party rights.

Institutions do not publish scholarly articles through the UK-SCL models; they enable the authors to share the manuscripts and to meet open access funder requirements.

> It is extremely unlikely that the rights holders of such materials will abandon their third-party rights and allow libraries to publish their materials. The result will be an administrative burden for libraries and academics, and create potential legal problems too.

I think this statement shows a misunderstanding of what the UK-SCL is about. The issue you describe does exist, but is neither a new issue nor is it specific to the UK-SCL. It applies to every article manuscript that is deposited in an open access repository, regardless of the UK-SCL. So when art historians deposit their manuscripts in an institutional repository they need to either clear the rights or not post items under third party rights, or with clear indication of what these rights are (depending on the specific content). This is the case already now and it will stay the same with the UK-SCL, so there is no extra burden to academics and no change in what deposit means or requires.

> The Harvard model is actually several entirely voluntary license forms with different application, which in turn have been embraced with varying degrees of enthusiasm across that institution.

Legally this is not correct. Once such a policy is introduced following due process it is legally binding on the authors, so it is not more or less voluntarily than the UK-SCL model. What may well differ is the requirement to deposit, but that is no different with UK institutions.

> There is no evidence that the so-called Harvard model is widespread or that it may become so.

This is not correct either. Since 2008, when the first faculty at Harvard introduced the policy, we have seen many more institutions following. Harvard’s helpful directory shows the number has already grown to 70: http://cyber.harvard.edu/hoap/Additional_resources#Policies_of_the_kind_recommended_in_the_guide
The other obvious example would be the UK institutions – how you can say that “much of UK higher education” is now fast-tracking the UK-SCL and at the same time deny that the model may become more widespread is not clear to me.

> entirely voluntary on the part of academic staff who are not compelled to participate

As explained above this is not true in that sense that a university using this model does hold the rights asserted under the policy. Where the voluntary aspect comes in is in the requirement to deposit the manuscript – this I believe varies between institutions, as it does in the UK. There are UK academics who decide not to deposit now and I assume there will also be UK academics in the future who do not deposit. The rights that apply to the deposited manuscript and the act of deposit itself are related, but not the same.

> The SCL authorizes simultaneous institutional publication of peer-reviewed papers, thus failing to acknowledge the value added by journals and their editorial processes in orchestrating peer review and quality assurance

If this was true of the UK it would equally be true of US institutions who have the rights to share manuscripts once the version of record has been published.

> The UK Publishers Association has recently published their concerns

And there has been a point-by-point response, which I think you should also share with your readers to ensure they can hear both sides of the argument: https://www.slideshare.net/chrisabanks/scholarly-communications-model-policy-and-licence-publishers-association-concerns-together-with-ukscl-steering-group-responses

In addition to other points raised I am also note that there seems to be some misconceptions from editors and publishers regarding the model of the UK-SCL. In several of the examples you cite editors state they would not “not publish articles whose authors have pre-published their work with a Creative Commons License in their institutional repositories”. This is not what the UK-SCL allows – manuscripts can only be made available in the repository when the article has been published, so pre-publication is not allowed under the UK-SCL. Equally, I am concerned about the point the editor cited above makes about Creative Commons – if CC licensing is not possible for this journal then most publicly funded UK authors would find it impossible to publish in the journal in the first place as it clashes with the funder mandates. Effectively, what the editor is therefore saying is they would not publish authors funded through the UK tax payer anyway. So again, this is not a UK-SCL issue.

Finally, the UK-SCL recognises the value added by publishers. It is exactly because of this value that carefully edited and enhanced versions of records will still be valuable to institutions and authors, and find subscribers to bring in revenue. The UK-SCL simply helps authors to share their work and meet funder requirements.

Torsten, thank you for your comments. Before we dive into a few of the issues we/ you have raised, may I ask, given that you are central to (from some accounts, leading?) this initiative that you direct us to what you feel is the fullest description of the UK SCL? We have seen primarily slides from your talks and proposals from university librarians, and would be grateful for a link to an open and full description of what you propose. Secondly, would you share the composition of the UK SCL working group to which you refer in your presentations? Apologies if we missed an easy reference to each of these.

Thank you for your fast response, Karin, although I am a little confused by your comment. If you feel you do not currently have a full understanding of the UK-SCL, why did you write an article criticising it? It would have been easy to reach out to me or others to ask for clarification before writing the piece.

Anyway, a website is currently under construction. It will include information for different audiences, including authors, funders and publishers.

The UK-SCL steering group members represent different areas or communities of expertise, including publishers, academics, HE research and legal office, libraries and colleagues with OA expertise. A list of the institutions the steering group members are associated with is in the presentation you referenced, slide 15: https://www.slideshare.net/TorstenReimer/the-uk-scholarly-communications-licence-a-model-for-open-access-rights-retention I should note that since I put these slides together the steering group has been expanded to include a representative of the Royal Society (one of the publishers/scholarly societies who support the UK-SCL).

Torsten, we thank you for your comments. I fear at this point we are all simply restating our positions. I’ll note that while we reviewed everything you have mentioned, it did seem to us curious that there is not a more accessible and public detailed description of the SCL.

What we have heard from a number of people involved is that the model is being offered with some urgency as a quick fix. And we note that while the SCL may solve some problems, it creates others, and thus no institution should rush to adopt it without a much fuller, more robust and public airing of these potential remedies and potential additional problems. I hope you are correct that in fact there is a much more deliberative approach being taken.

We will look forward to the website and to the full list of the stakeholders who have been involved in your initiative. I also hope we have an opportunity for exchange in another forum.

Thanks, Karin. I understand your point regarding restating positions, although I note that some points I raised haven’t had any answer – but readers should now be able to consider this issue with a more balanced view that. If you have new comments I’d be happy to revisit the discussion, either here on in another forum, so please do get in touch.

Institutions have discussed the issues around open access and approaches for addressing them for years, and they are aware of the views of the Publishers Association. It is disappointing that many, but as I note not all, subscription publishers are now saying they will ask for 100% of waivers for UK authors, but workflows exist under which the overall workload for university staff in dealing with this would still be lower than under the current model. So you will find that these issues have been considered, but also that the universities remain in dialogue with publishers – perhaps a more constructive solution that 100% waiver applications will be suggested.

You may however be disappointed in that I don’t think a “full list of stakeholders” will ever be published. Just the number of university representatives on all the HEI committees that have discussed the UK-SCL goes into many hundreds, and universities do not usually publish lists of everyone consulted in the process of developing policy. What will of course be made available, and perhaps that is what you mean by a full list, are statements from bodies and organisations in support of the UK-SCL, relevant contacts at participating institutions etc.

Thank you for your responses Torsten: I really value the opportunity for the exchange of ideas and opinions on a forum such as this.

Karin and I had seen the slide show you referenced, along with virtually everything else we could find on-line, and the briefing materials being distributed at universities like my own. Our question was more about who created and developed the UK SCL: we understand that you and Chris Banks initiated it, but then your steering group lists simply universities, the British Library and JISC. Our sense is that the SCL was developed by librarians, and as such addressed problems and seeks solutions in certain ways. For all of the reasons we have laid out, and which have been echoed by other commentators, we believe that a one-size-fits-all approach developed by one stakeholder is inherently problematic.

You are right, of course, that historians produce data. However, our point was that historians (and arts and humanities scholars in general) usually quote or feature all manner of data which they have not created and do not have the right to publish without permission. I am currently working on an article featuring over twenty 18th and 19th century images, as well as a series of musical and voice recordings, and several video recordings: these come from libraries, archives and institutions in four countries on two continents. The journal I am working with has long experience of securing permission to publish excerpts from these varied sources. But how will my university navigate this, because by mounting the ‘accepted for publication’ version of my article in freely available form online under the UK SCL they will, in effect, be publishing it. (Sorry, but to say that this is not publication but is simply a way to “enable authors to share the manuscripts” is, I am confident, not how the rights holders for the materials we use will see it). Will my employer expect me to secure all of the necessary permissions for OA publication? Or will the library do it? This will be a huge amount of work, and I think it likely that permission will be withheld for some and perhaps even many of these images and recordings: OA publication without them would mean publication of an incomplete piece. You are correct, of course, this issue exists already, but by requiring the publication on-line of all ‘accepted for publication’ versions of articles by UK authors, the UK SCL will significantly increase the size of this issue, and the necessity of obtaining full permission. Rights-holders will be ever more aware of the appearance of their materials on-line, and more likely to assert their rights: not every library, archive or private individual is ready and willing to have material they own published on-line, at least not without payment.

Other commentators have already provided evidence (including Unpaywall) that institutions are considering dropping subscriptions to journals, reasoning that it makes no sense to pay for something when much of its content is freely available on-line. It is all very well to assure academics and journal editors that libraries won’t do this, but most of us have experienced all manner of library budget cuts and new pressures on library which give us every reason to think that in the near future the important, high quality arts and humanities journals (amongst others) published by small organisations may well be endangered.

The more evidence that emerges from Harvard shows that the ‘success’ of that system stems from the fact that it is not mandatory: some Harvard academics choose not to participate at all, while others request full and complete waivers upon request. These waivers are neither partial nor conditional. On these grounds alone, the UK-SCL operates completely differently to the Harvard system, in that the UK-SCL is mandatory, and there is no guarantee that individual institutions will grant even partial waivers.

The result is that more and more of history journal editors and editorial boards we have consulted with are confirming that they will not accept or work under the terms dictated to them by the UK SCL. In fact we have yet to find a history journal editor prepared to accept and work under the terms of the UK SCL. One may assert that these journal editors are mistaken and so forth, but that in itself is unlikely to make them change their minds. If history journal editors stick to this position, we as historians will be forced to acquire waivers for the articles we submit to them, and if we require full waivers for virtually all of our articles then we will be publishing under the Green OA system that is operating at present.

You suggest that the publishing under the terms of the UK SCL will allow British academics to meet funder requirements (and, of course, have their work eligible for consideration come the next Research Excellence Framework in 2021). What this fails to note is that the current Green/Gold system already meets both funder and REF requirements.

So our overall point is simple. We think the current system should be left in place while representatives from all constituencies work with groups such as Universities UK Open Access Coordination Group discuss how to move forward and develop new models which will work better for everyone. And the plural, models, is vital. What is becoming ever more clear is that a one-size-fits-all approach to OA publication across the disciplines, especially if it is developed largely by one stakeholder, is bound to be problematic. We will need either one umbrella model with significant variations, or even several parallel models. While the UK SCL is now the subject of consultations at universities across the UK, it has been presented as a fait accompli, and what we need are academics from all disciplines, journal editors, funders and higher education authorities, librarians and other stakeholders to work together to create a new system.

Thank you for your response, Simon. I feel that some of the issues you raised I had already addressed in my previous comment, but for some aspects context is important and so I will cover them again.

As I mentioned in the response to Karin the UK-SCL steering group has representatives from different backgrounds, including copyright experts, research office staff, publisher, academic and librarian. I think the question of whether or not the UK-SCL was initiated by librarians is a red herring – and just for the record I am not a librarian by training nor was I employed in a library position at Imperial College when the UK-SCL started. It has been discussed across universities, with feedback from all types of stakeholders including academics, through the normal process each HEI is using for policy change. I have personally had discussions with dozens of academics on the model, and presented on this in front of hundreds. There has also been input from publishers as early as 2015.

Regarding the third party rights I am afraid I have to repeat what I said before: this applies to any repository upload so is not a UK-SCL issue. The requirement to deposit all scholarly papers is also neither new, nor UK-SCL specific. UK universities have had similar policies for years, and the Open Access policy for the post-2014 REF has effectively ensured that this is UK-wide policy across HEIs. So again, the UK-SCL does not add anything new here, it just references the de-fact situation at UK universities. Also, universities can introduce the model without a requirement to deposit if they so choose.

> Other commentators have already provided evidence (including Unpaywall) that institutions are considering dropping subscriptions to journals,

I fail to see any evidence in the comments that universities are considering to drop subscription as result of the UK-SCL. No one I have spoken to about this since the initiative has started has even remotely suggested this – and considering that the UK contribution to global publishing, while not unimportant, is overall relatively small it would also be foolish for a university library to even consider this because of the UK-SCL. The quote from Unpaywall is a marketing statement from a third party that has no say in subscription discussions at UK university – that you cite this as evidence for university plans is a little disappointing. I refer you to Danny Kingsley’s analysis of claims made regarding green OA and subscriptions: https://unlockingresearch.blog.lib.cam.ac.uk/?p=331

Waivers: the wording that is currently under discussion is that universities will give ‘every consideration’ to a waiver request from their staff. The reason that there is no guarantee in the suggested wording for the model policy is to future proof it – if more funders move to very short or zero embargoes (see the Gates Foundation policy) it would give universities flexibility to meet the funder requirement. How exactly the waiver process is implemented will be for each university to decide.

> The result is that more and more of history journal editors and editorial boards we have consulted with are confirming that they will not accept or work under the terms dictated to them by the UK SCL.

If what you have quoted above is a typical reaction from a history journal editor then perhaps you have not explained the model correctly. As I noted above the argument that the UK-SCL allows pre-publication is wrong. As it appears from the post that these editors responded to statements you sent them I think it is frustrating that you have presented the UK-SCL in a way that suggest the model would allow pre-publication. Also, as I noted above some of the statements of editors quoted show that they would not publish any RCUK funded UK author anyway (or any other funder with similar requirements), so the discussions that it appears you had with editors seem to have, to quote the title, missed the mark.

> What this fails to note is that the current Green/Gold system already meets both funder and REF requirements.

That is not correct. The total RCUK funding made available for Gold is about enough to pay the costs for one large research intensive such as Imperial College. There is not enough funding available to make all UK authored or co-authored articles available as Gold unless authors would only publish in free or the cheapest gold journals, which they currently show no inclination to do. Therefore for the bulk of outputs the sector has to rely on green OA. Not all journals currently meet the REF OA terms, and it gets worse when you factor in other funders. Elsevier for example demand an ND licence for article deposit, with means Elsevier authors cannot comply with RCUK mandates through the green route.

Regarding your point on the stakeholder discussions: these are valuable and will continue – I am myself on the UUK coordination group as well as some of the subgroups. I do note however that many of the issues raised by the sector have not been addressed through many years of discussions, nor have large scale investments by RCUK led to the flipping to Gold OA publishing envisaged to Finch. Until these and/or other changes have happened an interim solution is required, and that’s what led to the development of the UK-SCL. Whether they want to support their authors and customers or add more complexity to the system is a choice publishers have to make.

It strikes me that if all articles under the UK-SCL system are made immediately available as “versions of record” equivalent to what is found in the articles as published, there is no incentive for any journal that is not already OA to invest in having those articles reviewed–which I guess what Karin has been saying. If they are Green OA of some form, on the other hand, whether embargoed or not, that incentive still exists because libraries presumably want the versions of record for their users to have available for reading and citation. For some uses, such as classroom assignment, Green OA versions may suffice, and if that is deemed to be so, then libraries would likely subscribe only to those journals that serve the core fields that these universities support and rely for other uses on the Green OA versions. But I fail to see what logic exists to expect subscriptions to continue if the finally edited and formatted versions are openly accessible to everyone at the point of publication. What evidence exists to show that under these exact circumstances libraries will continue to subscribe? Evidence that subscriptions are not affected if Green OA versions exist is not relevant here.

And, by the way, the fact that journals in the HSS fields are often less expensive than those in the STEM fields does not mean they won;t be cancelled. Librarians have explained to me that, regardless of cost, if libraries are forced to cancel some STEM journals, the “politics” of campus life force them to cancel some HSS journals also. And even when STEM journals are higher priced, they are often cancelled because STEM faculty have more power on campus than HSS faculty do. I’m not making this up; this is exactly what I was told by librarians.

Sandy, there is clearly a misunderstanding here. Universities would only make the accepted manuscript available, exactly the same version that currently is self-archived as green open access. The version of record remains with the publisher. We never spoke about anything but the manuscripts, so this is nothing else but green OA.

As a strong advocate of OA since the 1980s, I have always argued against “one size fits all” and have been critical of the tendency of some OA advocates to think that the CC BY license works for all authors in all fields. It does not.

It may be worth pointing out that when netLibrary came onto the scene as a vendor iof ebooks to libraries, university presses (and other publishers) were compelled to obtain third-party permission to use copyrighted material owned by others in the ebook edition, and in some cases permission was denied. I can remember some books we at Penn State entered into netLibrary that had pages blank because permission to use items like maps and other illustrations was denied. So the ebook version was, in fact, a truncated version of record.

Thank you for your comment, Sandy. I fully understand that there are different views across disciplines (and even within disciplines) on the suitability of CC licenses, and that third party rights in particular are complicated. You may have noticed that the UK-SCL proposal does not include CC BY as the licence, despite encouragement to go down this way (including from academics), so the model does not advocate CC BY as default solution. The main reason for not including ND is that this licence component puts authors in breach with funders – James has explained this in more detail below. So in that sense it is not a case of the UK-SCL imposing on authors but helping authors to meet funder requirements. I appreciate you may not agree with the funder policy, but we have to respect them anyway.

From previous discussions, and again in this article, there is a clear divide in opinions over the appropriateness of an –ND licence for scholarly material.

The arguments for point out (some UK specific):
• It is essential to support academics (and other researchers) who employ techniques “for example via text and data mining, [which] adds value to scholarship.”
o Creative Commons guidance indicates the –ND licence creates restrictions for any academic researcher who wishes to publish an article which may have resulted from text or datamining material under this licence.
“If you publicly share the results of your mining activity or the data you mined, you should attribute the rights holder. If what you publicly share qualifies as an adaptation of the licensed material, you should not mine ND-licensed material” https://creativecommons.org/faq/#can-i-conduct-textdata-mining-on-a-cc-licensed-database
o One major commercial publisher’s own legal counsel has publically advised them and authors that the CC-BY-NC-ND licence “does not allow users to text or data mine the article.” https://www.elsevier.com/connect/what-changes-when-publishing-open-access-understanding-the-fine-print
• No author , if supported by one of several funders (AHRC and other UK Research Councils, Wellcome Trust, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation) could meet the requirements of their funding contract if using the CC-BY-NC-ND licence.

The arguments against point out:
• It is “essential to protect academic research from inappropriate reuse”: a concern, in particular but not in isolation, of Arts and Humanities scholars of protecting their work from being taken out of context.
• And a similar concern “that translations of their writings be done competently.”

I understand the concern around translation of scholarly content, as set out in Sandy’s article (https://scholarsphere.psu.edu/downloads/6hd76rz61r). Given that this is more about dissemination (anyone can create a poor automated translation for personal use with ease) however, I am not clear how widespread an issue this would be, or how effective the –ND licence would actually be in controlling this? Equally, I am not clear of what the response of those advocating against the –ND licence is to these concerns?

With regards the inappropriate use, I struggle with some of the concerns here, as many appear to be raised as being unable to take action against such misuse unless an –ND licence is used. Are there examples specifically of where the use the –ND licence has prevented the potential misuse mentioned? Or where the CC-BY-NC licence has failed to do so? The CC-BY-NC licence still requires an attribution to the original author, and an indication of what changes have been made and an indication they are not be endorsed by that author. The author’s moral rights, where these requirements are not met, are not affected (is my understanding).

I suppose the additional question is, are there examples of where any text/data mining activity has been prevented by the use of the -ND licence? More difficult to quantify I suspect, and asked in the context that the advice is clear that if a researcher wished to employ such a practice, they would be unable to using so-licenced content.

First of all, moral rights are not recognized under US law, except to a very limited set of works (in the fine arts). When the US adhered to the Berne Convention, it was argued that other US laws (like the Lanham Act) provided equivalent protection. Whether that is true, of course, is arguable.

The CC license used to contain language prohibiting various misuses, but that language was omitted in later versions. Authors have reason to be concerned about where and how their writings are used, for example, in contexts and with editing that betrays their intended meaning. As for translations, once a work is translated, incentives to translate it again diminish even if the translation is poor.

Yes, my error; that part perhaps should read “The CC-BY-NC licence still requires an attribution to the original author, and an indication of what changes have been made and an indication they are not be endorsed by that author. The author’s moral rights (WHERE A JURSIDICTION RECOGNISES THEM), are ALSO not affected where these requirements are not met”

Here are a few comments on what the authors have said about the Harvard OA policies. I leave comments on the UK-SCL for another time.

When Wulf and Newman first refer to the Harvard OA license, they link to the Harvard repository terms of use. That’s confusing. The Harvard OA license is embodied in the OA policies, not the repository terms of use. These are separate and complementary.

For the language of the Harvard OA license, see (for example) the language of the policy from the Faculty of Arts and Sciences or the Harvard model OA policy.

> “There is no evidence that the so-called Harvard model is widespread or that it may become so….”

This doesn’t matter to the merits of the Harvard model and even less to the merits of the UK-SCL. But for the record the Harvard model has been adopted by at least 70 institutions in North America, Europe, Africa, and Asia.

> “First, the Harvard model is more of a statement of institutional preference than a directive, and it is entirely voluntary on the part of academic staff who are not compelled to participate….”

It helps to be more careful here. The authors’ statement is true in three senses: (1) faculty were not compelled to vote for the OA policies; (2) once adopted by vote, the waiver option in each policy lets faculty members decide for or against OA for each new article, with the default favoring OA; and (3) although the policies include a commitment to deposit a certain version of each new article in the repository, there is no penalty for non-deposit. But the statement is untrue in another sense: (4) the Harvard OA policies have legal consequences, and are not just statements of institutional preference. By voting up the policies, faculty granted the university a certain set of nonexclusive rights.

> “Some [members of the Harvard History Department] may have requested waivers for all of their articles.”

There are two ways to read this, one certainly false and the other probably false. (1) It might mean that one waiver can cover all of an author’s future articles, and that some members of the History Department have requested this kind of standing waiver. That is untrue. The Harvard OA policies only allow article-by-article waivers, not standing waivers. Faculty who want waivers for separate articles must obtain them separately. (2) It might mean that some faculty in the Department have made separate waiver requests for each of their articles. That’s possible but not likely. The highest number of waivers requested by any member of the Department is very low.

(I’m taking the authors’ claim in its strongest form, and disregarding the fact that they say some Harvard historians “may” have done this, not that any actually have done it.)

The authors say that the Harvard repository terms of use are “similar to a CC-BY-NC-ND license.” I suppose that’s true. But if so, it’s equally true that the terms are *dissimilar* to a CC-BY-NC-ND license. The terms permit some but not all commercial use (differing from NC licenses), and some but not all derivative works (differing from ND licenses). If the authors’ point was that these terms differ from the straight CC-BY-NC license used by the UK-SCL, that’s true.

Finally, commenter Siloh says, “The Harvard model is ‘ignored’ by top scientists at Harvard because it restricts choice and the freedom to choose where to publish their work, i.e., prevents them from publishing in the most prestigious journals in their subject area (knowledge gained directly from two Harvard Profs).”

I have no doubt that some faculty ignore the policies. But the policies do not restrict the freedom of faculty to choose where to publish their work. There are two kinds of misunderstanding on this front. (1) Some covered authors believe that the policies require them to publish their new articles in OA journals. That belief is untrue, and even a superficial reading of the policies shows it to be untrue. This misunderstanding reflects the tenacious background assumption that all OA is gold OA, or that the only way to make an article OA is to publish it in an OA journal. This kind of misunderstanding is common to all green policies, not just to Harvard-style green policies. (2) Some covered authors overlook or undervalue the waiver option. This option assures the freedom of faculty to choose where to publish their work, and was incorporated into the policies precisely to assure this freedom. This was well-explained at the time of each faculty vote, which is why faculty voted for the policies (at four Harvard schools by unanimous votes), and it’s well-explained in all our published material on the policies.

The Harvard repository has more than 39,000 deposits, the vast majority from scientists, who are no slouches at publishing in the journals of their choice.

By “unanimous votes”? True in one sense, not true in another. As I understand it, those faculty members in each school who showed up for the vote did cast an affirmative vote. But those attending these meetings did not represent a majority of the faculty in each of these schools; most simply didn’t bother to attend. Hence it is at best misleading to claim that the policy had universal consent of the faculty when not all the faculty bothered to vote.

Peter, so many issues we might discuss profitably, but in an era when I think we must fight for clarity of information let us be clear about this one thing. The uptake for the Harvard model is cited as “over 70 institutions” around the world, while the link is to a list in which the University of Oregon Library Faculty and Department of Romance Languages are counted individually, and similarly other departments within universities are counted individually. I don’t think either of us would argue that this demonstrates widespread embrace.

It’s not correct to say that the ‘main UK research funder’ is RCUK and it permits CC BY NC (not ND) – at least, it’s not correct for the humanities – for whom by far the largest research funder is HEFCE (now Research England) – and it permits ND. This outcome arose only after a long and well-argued case was made to HEFCE that the RCUK policy had not adequately taken into account the distinctive nature of humanities research (the Finch Report on which it had been based had no humanities representation at all). It’s dispiriting to have to rehearse all those arguments all over again.

Most of the UK learned societies who represent the vast bulk of humanities academics were able to develop a common view – for OA, but in forms that were designed to recognize to reflect and enhance rather than to impair the distinctive practices of humanities research – and this common view was taken into account in developing the HEFCE policy. They should be brought back into this conversation if ‘consultation’ is really to be taken seriously, and not conducted as a tick-box exercise to rubber stamp managerial decision making, as is all too common in UK HE nowadays.

(I write as a former President of the Royal Historical Society, which makes very little money from publishing and has always been a strong advocate – indeed a pioneer – of OA in the humanities.)

Peter, I don’t dispute the importance of HEFCE – I have acknowledged how critical its REF open access policy is. In fact, the UK-SCL is directly inspired by HEFCE’s policy (see below). However, HEFCE and RCUK are different in that HEFCE is a funding council that does not just fund research, and the budget dedicated to research is also different: RCUK invest around £3 billion a year whereas HEFCE’s allocation for research in 2017/18 is £1.595 billion. While HEFCE is indeed very relevant for the humanities this does not contradict my statement the RCUK is the UK’s main research funder.

Whether the argument which of these two bodies is the main research funder in the UK is overly relevant is another matter though. First of all both organisations are now going to become part of UK Research and Innovation, which may (or may not) lead to a fully harmonised policy. Even if it does not the UK SCL aligns with HEFCE’s policy aims. The HEFCE OA policy (or the OA policy for the REF as we are reminded to call it is it is the policy of all UK funding councils) that you reference has directly inspired the UK-SCL. Section 39 says: “where an HEI can demonstrate that outputs are presented in a form that allows re-use of the work, including via text-mining, credit will be given in the research environment component of the post-2014 REF.” As James has explained above a CC BY NC licence does support this policy statement whereas ND does not. Furthermore: “We further recommend that institutions fully consider the extent to which they currently retain or transfer the copyright of works published by their researchers, as part of creating a healthy research environment.” This is exactly what the UK-SCL does, so it aligns well with this policy.

Regarding the role of learned societies: we fully recognise this which is why the Royal Society is represented on the UK-SCL steering group.

Torsten, please don’t forget the Scottish Funding Council research grant (everyone always forgets Scotland), which brings the funding council total up to £1.83b. But the key point made by Peter is that most of us in the arts and humanities get most of our research support from the funding councils, not from the research councils, which is why for arts and humanities researchers following the guidelines and requirements of the funding council/REF makes more sense. Again, we are back to the point that a one-size-fits-all model flattens out differences and does not best suit all. Having the Royal Society, primarily the learned society for the sciences, as a representative of all scholarly learned societies embodies the problem.

Simon, I think the comment about Scotland is better directed at Peter as he was the one positioning RCUK vs HEFCE only. As you will see from my comment I did specifically reference “all UK funding councils”.

Equally, if you read my comment again you will see that I have explained how the UK-SCL is directly inspired by the founding councils’ policy and how it directly follows policy guidance. To suggest it would be better from an arts and humanities perspective to follow the guidance from the funding councils is therefore an argument for and not against the UK-SCL.

Torsten, I don’t think any of your points addressed my comment.

1) My point about the funding councils being the principal funder was specifically made about the humanities. (My estimate is that the funding councils’ allocation of QR to the humanities is over 3x the sum allocated to research by AHRC.) Nearly all of us in the humanities are funded by the funding councils and only a minority of us by RCUK. This is an important point because of the variance between RCUK and the funding councils’ policies, for which see below.

2) On whether SCL ‘follows policy guidance’ in the funding councils’ mandate. As you well know, unlike the RCUK mandate, the funding councils’ mandate explicitly permits ND. ‘While we do
not request that outputs are made available under any particular licence, we advise that outputs licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Non-Derivative (CC BY-
NC-ND) licence would meet this requirement.’ (para 27) The funding councils’ mandate also allows many more exceptions where third-party rights and journal policies conflict with the letter of the OA mandate. All of this resulted from powerful arguments put by humanities organizations that the RCUK policy had been devised without adequate consideration of the different pattern of humanities publishing. It is also the case that the funding councils’ policy offers ‘extra credit’ for HEIs that go beyond the letter of the policy, including allowance for re-uses such as text mining (though this is not explicitly about ND: it’s far from clear that ND prohibits text-mining, for example). Which is only to say that the policy is a little incoherent, resulting as it did from a set of compromises between a wide range of stakeholders. But it’s only a half-truth, or less, to say that SCL which seems to want to mandate NC is the fulfilment of the funding councils’ mandate which acknowledges ND!

3) Again, my point about the learned societies was explicitly about a voice for the humanities. So the Royal Society is (while undoubtedly significant to the scientific societies) simply irrelevant here. SCL is beginning to look like Finch redivivus – another STEM-led policy that just writes out the humanities. Thus we may have to be fighting the post-Finch battles all over again – why?

If you don’t think the humanities should or do have any distinctive interests, just say so. But there’s no point in carrying on a dialogue based simply on your own premises, and blanking ours.

Peter, I do not deny the importance of the funding councils for the humanities – my comment explicitly acknowledged their importance in this field.

Regarding point 2: CC BY NC ND is the *minimum* compliance for the REF open access policy. The policy explicitly encourages institutions to go beyond minimum compliance and offers credits for institutions who do so. I have cited the section that highlights text and data mining.

Regarding whether TDM is permissible with an ND licence I refer you, not to the arguments of scholars or universities but to Elsevier: “This does not allow users to text or data mine the article.” https://www.elsevier.com/connect/what-changes-when-publishing-open-access-understanding-the-fine-print

So again, the UK-SCL has been developed specifically following guidance from the REF OA policy on how institutions should approach open access by going beyond the minimum requirements of the policy. And while funding council funding is very important for the humanities, we also need to keep in mind humanities scholars funded by RCUK (and no, there is not enough money in the system to pay for gold OA for all RCUK-funded authors, as explained above).

Regarding point 3: The institutions looking into implementing the policy represent a broad mix of disciplines and include large research-intensives and smaller universities. This ensures that the humanities have a voice in the university discussions like all other disciplines. The draft version that is currently under discussion includes a longer waiver/embargo period for the humanities specifically to reflect these views, and it had this provision from very early on.

We are more than happy to discuss these issues further, and as you probably know there is a consultation with publisher representatives. You may wish to speak to colleagues at the Publishers Association if you feel that the humanities are not represented well enough.

As I mentioned before I am a historian myself, and I have discussed the UK-SCL with other historians, so I am certainly not blanking the humanities.

Torsten, the Elsevier article you point to is from 2013 and refers to an earlier version of the CC-BY-NC-ND license (v3.0) that was in use by Elsevier at the time. We have since migrated to the newer 4.0 version of this license and make clear on our licensing page (https://www.elsevier.com/about/our-business/policies/open-access-licenses) that downloading an Elsevier article for TDM purposes is permitted by Elsevier where a CC-BY-NC-ND license has been applied to an article.

I believe Torsten took the link from my original comment, so the original error is mine (although being pedantic, at the point the original article was published, version 4.0 was in its 3rd public draft and had been going through discussions for 2 years already – the article itself does not link to nor reference a specific licence version).

However, it is worth highlighting what is actually permitted. Yes, Elsevier’s guidance now indicates that the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 licence allows “download for text and data mining purposes”. However, the guidance from the Creative Commons corporations itself indicates that the use of the -ND licence does create issues should the researcher then wish to disseminate or share the results publicly, if that takes the form of any derivative of the work.

I feel however, the wider concerns about the use, or not, of the -ND licence for text/data mining are perhaps of less immediate concern to address for some authors than other concerns raised, although I am equally unclear as to real world examples where the ND licence has already protected against these.

Thanks James, I was just about to make a similar reply. It is good to hear that Elsevier do not see ND as a barrier for text and data mining as far as their own content is concerned (at least for v4), but it is the legal interpretation across different jurisdicitions that is the issue here.

The depth, breadth, and quality of this exchange testifies to the thoughtfulness of Wulf and Newman’s essay, as well as the importance of these issues. I leave the details to more knowledgeable authorities, but am inclined to note that anyone who doesn’t believe that different disciplines have different approaches/imperatives/assumptions/contexts/etc should know that historians don’t have “outputs.” We write. We write articles, essays, blogs, books, reviews, and even Twitter posts. But even those of us who have learned how to say something in 140 characters do not create “output.” This is not mere semantics, as words represent ways of thinking, and in this case point to different understandings of how publication happens, what it costs, its half-life, and many other factors that relate to approaches to accessibility.

I don’t think anyone wants the Publishers Association to ‘represent’ the humanities. Ask the representative bodies, for god’s sake, i.e. the learned societies. They’ve had plenty to say on OA, and have made plenty of contributions to making it work.

Peter, I think you misunderstand me. I am not suggesting the PA is or isn’t representing the humanities, I was suggesting that if a humanities publisher / society wanted to be included in the ongoing consultations between publishers and the institutions they should contact the PA. We are more than happy to speak to humanities representatives separately, so anyone is welcome to get in touch and I will set something up.

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