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Why wouldn't funding agencies pay for OA ?

April 20, 2010

Two years ago when the PMC deposit issue was heating up, I posed this question to Martin Frank and Fred Dylla at the annual PSP gathering. Martin said NIH tells him that this would result in an additional 10% over their budget. To me the NIH response appeared too anecdotal and I kept looking for some statistics (HHMI reimburses authors for OA fees). Now a report in DLib Magazine just presents detailed statistics – Donald King, from UNC, looks into the question of how much it would cost the federal government to fund all US science articles. His analysis is very compelling and tells the true story.

Starting with an assumption of 285,000 published articles (NSF data for 2008 showed an article count of 200,000) and an author payment charge of $2,500 per article publishable under OA, the total cost for the funding agencies for the OA fee comes to $712.5 million which represents just 1.27 percent of total R&D funds. King also presents multiple scenarios to meet the OA payments.

The calculations are so simple and obviously NIH was preposterous in its judgment.

King also makes strong analytical arguments on the potential cost savings to the community. As a suffix note to the article he says:

Through the last 15 years, during which I joined with Carol Tenopir and others in examining use and cost of scholarly publishing, we have tried to remain “honest brokers” in our studies to provide evidence for others to use. With that in mind I have written this article not as an advocate, but rather as an observer to present an idea others might not have considered.

I recommend everyone to look at his analysis and recommendations.

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