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Conference talk: 'Pay now or wait a year: embargoes as a selective barrier to access'

conference contribution
posted on 06.05.2021, 13:54 by Liam Bullingham
A talk which was included as a breakout session at the UKSG Annual Conference, April 12-14 2021.

In the absence of funds for 'gold' open access, publishers may allow universities to share the author's manuscript on a 'green' basis, with or without an embargo. In the UK, the former means the work can be openly accessed typically after a period of 12-24 months. Such time gives publishers opportunity to build revenue, but creates inequalities. Firstly, there is a division between those who can afford a fee or can access a library subscription to benefit from the research and those that cannot; but there is also a divide between universities that have funds to pay publishing charges and less research intensive institutions that have no such fund.

This case study considers journal articles published by Edge Hill University in 2019. Originally a teacher training college, the University received taught degree-awarding powers its university title in 2006, followed by Research Degree Awarding Powers in 2008. A key finding is that embargoes mean certain kinds of research articles can be 'locked down' for longer. For instance, educational journal articles were found to be held back from public access for more than twice the time compared with health research. This is driven by disseminating research through publishers who make consistent use of embargoes.

As a result, the consumers of Edge Hill's education research (e.g. schools, teachers) may need to wait longer to use it. This can potentially affect their ability to use research to innovate, enhance practice, or respond to societal challenges.


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