Emeritus professors ‘excluded’ from UK open access deal

Policy expert told he would have to cover publication fee himself post-retirement alleges ‘blatant age discrimination’

May 22, 2024
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A recently retired professor who was told he would have to pay more than £2,000 to get his paper published has claimed that the effective exclusion of emeritus staff from a UK-wide open access deal amounts to “age discrimination”.

Patrick Dunleavy, an expert on UK public policy and government, said he was astonished to learn that he would need to cover the £2,330 gold open access fee himself if he wanted a paper accepted by the Wiley journal Political Quarterly to be published.

Previously his article processing charges had been covered by the London School of Economics, where he had worked for the past 45 years. However, Professor Dunleavy’s departure in November means he is no longer eligible for the publication support received by employed academic staff – a situation faced by most other emeritus scholars under the terms of a national deal agreed by sector technology body Jisc.

Older people contribute a lot to academia and still want to publish, so seeing a deal like this – which amounts to blatant age discrimination – being signed off by Jisc is very poor,” said Professor Dunleavy, who became an emeritus professor in 2020 but continued as LSE Press’ founding editor until six months ago.

“My research is still read by academics and policymakers and was entered into the last REF [Research Excellence Framework] by the LSE, so it’s odd that Wiley and Jisc feel those like me, with honorary appointments, should be excluded from open access agreements.”

Jisc, which negotiates open access deals on behalf of UK institutions, said it had “worked in collaboration with sector groups to create guidance to support institutional decision-making on eligibility for transitional agreements, which includes affiliated and contracted staff”.

“Article approval is at the discretion of the institution, noting that the guidance recommends that authors have a contract of employment with the university,” it added.

An LSE spokesman said it was “working with the author to enable their article to be published as open access” and was “currently updating our open access policies with a view to helping researchers retain the rights to their work”.

Professor Dunleavy, who joined the LSE in 1979, said he feared the current guidelines would mostly prevent emeritus scholars in the humanities and social scientists from publishing.

“Most of my papers are co-authored, so I haven’t run into this problem before, but I don’t see why individually authored work from emeritus staff – which doesn’t appear in huge volumes – should be effectively barred in this way,” he said.


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Reader's comments (1)

I had the same experience. It's one of the reasons why I self-publish now - and at a much lower cost as I can prepare all the document with LyX (Latex/Tex) and QGIS and just send the exported .pdf to my local printer.