Saturday, December 7. 2013
Bo-Christer Björk is quite right. The Elsevier study's arbitrary (and somewhat self-serving) 6-category classification system (each of whose categories is curiously labelled a "publishing system") leaves much to be desired.
It is not just what Elsevier called "Gold Open Access" that was Gold Open Access, but also what they called "Subsidised." The difference is merely that what they called Gold was publishing-fee-based Gold and what they called subsidized was subsidy-based Gold:
4. Open Archives
5. Green Open Access: Pre-print versions
6. Green Open Access: Accepted Author Manuscript versions
Elsevier also neglected to mention that "Subsidised" did not necessarily mean subsidized either: There are also subscription-based journals that make their online versions free immediately upon publication; hence they are likewise Gold OA journals.
What Elsevier called "Open Archives" is also not what it sounds like: It seems to be Delayed Access articles, accessible only after a publisher embargo, either on the publisher's website or in another central website, such as PubMed Central, where publishers also deposit, sometimes immediately, sometimes after an embargo.
The two Green Open Access categories are also ambiguous.The pre-print versions are (correctly) described as pre-refereeing drafts (but it would take a lot closer analysis to determine whether the pre-prints differ from the refereed version. It is easy to determine whether they were posted before the official publication date but far from easy to determine whether they were posted before refereeing. (The date of the letter of acceptance of the refereed draft is often one that only the author and the editor know -- though it is in some cases printed in the journal: did Elsevier look at that too?)
The post-refereeing author's drafts are presumably what they are described as being, but it is not clear by what criteria Elsevier distinguished them from pre-refeeeing drafts (except when they were in an institutional repository and specifically tagged as unrefereed).
So, as Bo-Christer points out, there are many methodological questions about the data without whose answers their meaningfulness and interpretability is limited. I would say that the timing issue is perhaps the most important one. And to sort things out I would like to propose a different system of classification:
Open Access (OA): The term OA should be reserved for immediate OA, regardless whether it is provided by the publisher (Gold) or the author (Green). A reasonable error-margin for OA should be within 3 months or less from publication date. Anything longer begins to overlap with publisher embargoes (of 6, 12, 24 months or longer).
Delayed Access (DA): The term DA should be used for delays of more than 6 months. And besides the usefulness of separately counting 6, 12, and 24 month DA, DA should also be analyzed as a continuous variable, reckoned in months starting from the date of publication (including negative delays, when authors post the refereed draft during the interval from acceptance date to publication date. The unrefereed preprint, however, should not be mixed into this; it should be treated as a separate point of comparison.
So there is Gold OA (immediate), Green OA (immediate), Gold DA and Green DA (measured by 6-month intervals as well as continuously in months.
If a separate distinction is sought within Gold, then fee-based Gold, subsidy-based Gold and subscription-based Gold can be compared, for both OA and DA. The locus of deposit of the Gold is not relevant, but the fact that it was done by the publisher rather than the author (or the author's assigns) is extremely relevant.
For Green OA and DA it is also important to compare locus of deposit (institutional vs. institution-external). See mandates below.
In all cases independence and redundancy should uniformly be controlled: Whenever a positive "hit" is made in any category, it has to be checked whether there are any instances of the same paper in other categories. Otherwise the data are not mutually exclusive.
If desired, all the above can be further subdivided in terms of Gratis (free online access) and Libre (free online access plus re-use rights) OA and DA.
Tracking Gold has the advantage of having clear unambiguous timing (except if the publication date differs from the date the journal actually appears) and of being exhaustively searchable without having to sample or check (if one has an index of the Gold OA and DA journals).
Tracking Green is much harder, but it must be done, because the fight for OA is rapidly becoming the fight against embargoes. That's why Green OA should be reserved for immediate access. It is almost certain that within the next few years most journals will become Gold DA (with an embargo of 12 months). Hence 12 months is the figure to beat, and Green DA after 18 months will not be of much use at all.
And the best way to push for immediate Green OA, is to upgrade all Green mandates to require immediate institutional deposit, irrespective of how long an embargo the mandate allows on DA. Requiring immediate deposit does not guarantee immediate OA, but it guarantees immediate Almost-OA, mediated by the repository's automated copy-request Button, requiring only one click from the requestor and one click from the author.
The immediate-deposit requirement plus the Button not only fits all OA mandates (no matter how they handle embargoes of copyright), making it possible for all institutions and funders to adopt it universally, but it also delivers the greatest amount of immediate access for 100% of deposits: immediate Green OA for X% plus (100-X)% Button-mediated Almost OA. And this, in turn will increase the universal demand for immediacy to the point where publisher embargoes will no longer be able to plug the flood-gates and the research community will have the 100% immediate Green OA it should have had ever since the creation of the web made it possible by making it possible to free the genie from the bottle.
Friday, December 6. 2013
Elsevier has just conducted and published a study commissioned by UK BIS: "International Comparative Performance of the UK Research Base – 2013"
This study finds twice as much Green OA (11.6%) as Gold OA (5.9%) in the UK (where both Green OA repositories and Green OA mandates began) and about equal levels of Green (5.0%) and Gold (5.5%) in the rest of the world.
There are methodological weaknesses in the Elsevier study, which was based on SCOPUS data (Gold data are direct and based on the whole data set, Green data are partial and based on hand-sampling; timing is not taken into account; categories of OA are often arbitrary and not mutually exclusive, etc). But the overall pattern may have some validity.
What does it mean?
It means the effects of Green OA mandates in the UK -- where there are relatively more of them, and they have been there for a half decade or more -- are detectable, compared to the rest of the world, where mandates are relatively fewer.
But 11.6% Green is just a pale, partial indicator of how much OA Green OA mandates generate: If instead of looking at the world (where about 1% of institutions and funders have OA mandates) or the UK (where the percentage is somewhat higher, but many of the mandates are still weak and ineffective ones), one looks specifically at the OA percentages for effectively mandated institutions, the Green figure jumps to over 80% (about half of it immediate-OA and half embargoed OA: deposited, and accessible during the embargo via the repository's automated copy-request Button, with a click from the requestor and a click from the author).
So if the planet's current level of Green OA is 11.6%, its level will jump to at least 80% as effective Green OA mandates are adopted.
Meanwhile, Gold OA will continue to be unnecessary, over-priced, double-paid (which journal subscriptions still need to be paid) and potentially even double-dipped (if paid to the same hybrid subscription/Gold publisher) out of scarce research funds contributed by UK tax-payers ("Fool's Gold").
But once Green OA prevails worldwide, Fair Gold (and all the Libre OA re-use rights that users need and authors want to provide) will not be far behind.
We are currently gathering data to test whether the immediate-deposit (HEFCE/Liege) Green OA mandate model is indeed the most effective mandate (compared, for example, with the Harvard copyright-retention model with opt-out, or the NIH model with a 12 month embargo) in terms of deposit percentage and timing.
P.S. Needless to say, the fact that the UK's Green OA rate is twice as high as its Gold OA rate is true despite the new Finch/FCUK policy which subsidizes and prefers Gold and tries to downgrade Green -- certainly not because of it!
Sunday, December 1. 2013
Laakso & Björk (2013) compare the citation impact of immediate Gold OA with delayed Gold and toll-access. They find that delayed-Gold journals average twice as many citations per article as toll-access journals and three times as many as immediate-Gold journals.
This is based on comparisons between different journals. But journals differ in both subject matter and quality -- and one of the ways to try to equate them to make them comparable for quality is to equate them for impact.
So if journals are not equated for subject matter and quality, one is comparing apples and oranges. But if immediate Gold OA, delayed-Gold and toll-access journals are equated for impact, one can't compare impact for delayed vs. immediate Gold -- in fact one can't compare the journals for citation impact at al!!
A feasible way to compare immediate-OA with delayed-access and toll-access is via Green OA based on within-journal comparisons instead of between-journal comparisons, by comparing articles published within the same journal and year that are and are not made Green OA. To do this one needs both the date of publication and the date the article was made Green OA.
It is impossible to get the OA date for webwide deposits in general, but for repository deposits it is possible.
We do have some very preliminary and partial data from the University of Minho repository, but the sample is still too small to do within-journal comparisons. Immediate Green OA articles do have more citations on average than Delayed Access articles (see Figures 2c and 3c) despite the availability of the automated "Almost-OA" Button during the delay period, but these citation counts are just absolute ones, rather than relative to within-journal matched toll-access controls. Hence these are likewise still comparisons between apples and oranges. (Note also that the large number of undeposited articles is likewise unmatched, and not based on their respective within-journal matched toll-access controls.)
The sample will grow as the number of Green OA mandates and repository deposits worldwide grows. The vast unused potential for immediate Green-OA and Almost-OA has long been known and noted -- most recently by Laakso (2014).
Gargouri, Yassine, Larivière, Vincent & Harnad, Stevan (2013) Ten-year Analysis of University of Minho Green OA Self-Archiving Mandate (in E Rodrigues, Ed. title to come)
Laakso, M., & Björk, B. C. (2013). Delayed open access: An overlooked high-impact category of openly available scientific literature. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology.
Laakso, M (2014) Green open access policies of scholarly journal publishers: a study of what, when, and where self-archiving is allowed. Scientometrics (in press)
Open Access ≠ Open Access Journals. In AAAS's ScienceInsider, Jocelyn Kaiser reports the results of yet another survey showing that researchers want Open Access but do not provide it.
But if you ask the wrong questions, you get the wrong answers.
Open Access (OA) means free online access to peer-reviewed journal articles.
OA provides for researchers the advantage of maximizing the access, uptake, usage, applications, progress and impact of their research findings by making them accessible to all potential users, not just subscribers. Most researchers already know this.
There are two ways for researchers to provide OA:
--- (1) either researchers publish in an OA journal, which makes its article free for all online ("Gold OA");
--- (2) or researchers publish in their journal of choice but also self-archive their final peer-reviewed draft in their institutional OA repository, which makes it free for all online ("Green OA").
Gold OA has all the disadvantages mentioned and not mentioned by Kaiser: (i) not the author's established journal of choice; (iii) may have low or no peer-review standards (iii) may cost the author money to publish, out of scarce research funds.
That explains why most authors want OA but few provide Gold OA (as this latest Science survey yet again found).
About twice as many authors provide Green OA as Gold OA, but that's still very few: So what are the reasons authors don't provide Green OA?
Authors don't provide Green OA because they (i) fear it might be illegal; (ii) fear it might jeopardize publishing in their journal of choice; (iii) fear it might jeopardize peer-reviewed publishing itself.
The difference between the reasons why authors don't provide Gold OA and the reasons they don't provide Green OA is that the former are valid reasons and the latter are not.
But the solution is already being implemented worldwide, although Kaiser does not mention it:
Research funders and research institutions worldwide are mandating (requiring) Green OA.
Over 60% of journals already formally endorse immediate, unembargoed Green OA.
For the remaining 40% of articles, published in journals that embargo Green OA for 6, 12, 24 months or longer, they can be deposited as Closed Access (CA) instead of OA duriing the embargo: institutional repositories have a request-a-copy Button that allows users to request and authors to provide an email copy of any CA deposit with one click each ("Almost-OA").
So Green OA mandates can provide at least 60% immediate OA plus 40% Almost-OA. (This unused potential for immediate Green-OA and Almost-OA has long been known and noted -- most recently by Laakso (2014)).
And if Green OA mandates eventually make subscriptions unsustainable -- because Green OA from OA institutional repositories makes it possible for institutions to cancel their subscriptions -- then journals will cut costs (leaving all access-provision and archiving to the Green OA repositories), downsize and convert to Gold OA, providing peer review at a fair, affordable, sustainable price, paid for out of the institutions' subscription cancellation savings (not authors' research funds).
So mandatory Green OA is (i) legal, (ii) does not jeopardize authors' publishing in their journal of choice and (iii) does not jeopardize publishing or peer review:
Mandating Green OA merely provides Green OA (and Almost-OA) until journals convert to affordable Gold OA so that (i) authors can continue to publish in their established journal of choice; (ii) need not risk low or no peer-review standards (iii) need not pay to publish out of scarce research funds.
It would have been more complicated for the Science survey to explain the Green/Gold contingencies before asking the questions, but it would have been more informative than asking, as this survey did, "What is the Sound of One Hand Clapping?"
The outcome would have been that the vast majority of researchers will willingly comply with a Green OA mandate, exactly as had already been found by Swan & Brown's classic international JISC survey in 2005:
Friday, November 29. 2013
On Thu, Nov 28, 2013 Bo-Christer Björk wrote in GOAL: "The idea that publishers would tolerate large scale mandate driven green OA (say 50-60 %) of articles with no embargoes or counteractions is pretty naive. Elsevier has shown the way with rules stipulating that Green OA is OK, unless its mandated, in which case they require special deals with the the institutions in question. And many publishers who previously had no embargo periods are starting to define such."
Björk's comment, unfortunately completely misses the point.
Yes, publishers can and will try to impose embargoes on Green OA, especially encouraged by the perverse effects of the UK's Finch/RCUK preference and subsidy for Gold.
That is not being denied, it was being affirmed: "Joint 'Re-Engineering' Plan of UK Government and UK Publisher Lobby for 'Nudging' UK Researchers Toward Gold Open Access"
But the immediate-deposit (HEFCE/Liege) mandates are immune to these publisher embargoes. They are the compromise mandate that fits all funders and institutions, regardless of how long a maximal publisher embargo they allow.
(Green OA after one a one-year embargo has been pretty much conceded by all publishers, whether or not they admit it, so that's the worst case scenario; one year of access-denial is now the figure to beat: The HEFCE/Liege mandates get everything deposited in institutional repositories immediately upon acceptance for publication, whether or not it is made OA immediately. And that means that access to everything immediately becomes at most 2 keystrokes away, one from the requestor, one from the author, thanks to the repositories' automated "Almost-OA" Button: see more below.)
As to Elsevier's "special deals" for mandating institutions: sensible institutions will politely inform Elsevier that they are, as always, quite prepared to negotiate with publishers about subscription pricing ("Big Deals") -- but definitely not about university internal record-keeping and archiving policy, which is none of publishers' business.
As to Elsevier authors (who -- not their universities! -- are the ones negotiating rights agreements with their publishers): They can rest assured that Elsevier is still completely on the Side of the Angels in its explicit, formal recognition of their authors' right to provide immediate, unembargoed (Green, Gratis) OA to their final drafts, by self-archiving them online, accessible free for all, in their institutional repositories -- a right that Elsevier has formally recognized ever since 2004.
Let me repeat that very clearly: All Elsevier authors today retain the right to make their papers OA immediately upon publication -- no embargo -- by depositing their final refereed drafts in their institutional repositories and setting access to them as OA immediately.
The recently added Elsevier double-talk about "voluntariness" and "systematicity" has absolutely no legal force or meaning. As it stands, it is just vacuous, pseudo-legal FUD and can and should be safely ignored by authors.
And if and when Elsevier (putting at further risk its already rather unhappy public image) ever does decide to bite the bullet and changes its rights agreements from what they state currently to state instead that, as of today, Elsevier authors no longer retain the right to make their papers (Green, Gratis) OA unembargoed, then the institutional repositories' automated request-a-copy Button will tide over researcher needs during the embargo with one click from the user to request a copy and one click by the author to provide one. This is not OA, but it's "Almost-OA."
Once the immediate-deposit mandate, the Button, and X% Immediate-OA + (100-X)% Almost-OA prevail worldwide, it won't be much longer till embargoes die their inevitable and well-deserved deaths under the overwhelming worldwide pressure for OA, which by then will already all be only one keystroke away.
Meanwhile, X% Immediate-OA + (100-X)% Almost-OA will already be incomparably more access than all non-subscribing would-be users have (or have ever had) till now.
It is rather hard to say on whose side Björk is on, and why! It's one thing to objectively measure the level and growth rate of Green and Gold OA, Immediate and Delayed, across disciplines and time, as Björk does, valuably. It's a rather different thing to advocate for Gold OA.
Now, I am myself an unambiguous and unambivalent advocate for Green OA, whether when I am objectively measuring its growth rates or designing tools and policies to facilitate and accelerate mandating it. And my reasons (likewise no secrets) are the many reasons that Green OA can be facilitated and accelerated by mandating it.
Gold OA, in contrast, costs extra money (over and above uncancellable subscriptions) and can only grow on publishers' terms, and publishers' timetable.
I know of no reason to believe that OA can or will grow faster via the paid Gold route than the mandated Green route: The reason Björk gives above (publisher embargoes) certainly does not entail that conclusion at all. Immediate-deposit mandates are immune to publisher embargoes and will accelerate the demand and supply of OA unstoppably as they are adopted more and more widely.
That suggests a new parameter whose growth rate Björk and others might now find it interesting to measure: The growth rates of various kinds of mandates, keeping a special eye on the most powerful and effective one: The HEFCE/Liege model. Because that's where most of the action in the next few years will be taking place...
Wednesday, November 27. 2013
Joint "Re-Engineering" Plan
of UK Government and UK Publisher Lobby
for "Nudging" UK Researchers
Toward Gold Open Access
UKGOV: "...in the long term the most effective form of OA will be Gold OA…. there is no distinction to be made between the Government's and BISCOM's direction of travel for OA. The envisaged final destination is likely to be what the Finch Group termed a 'mixed economy' of Gold and Green OA, the proportions of which the decisions of researchers and behaviour in the market will decide…"Throughout its response to BIS, it is evident that the UK Government is not perceiving OA primarily as a means of maximizing UK research uptake and impact -- for the benefit of the UK tax-payers that fund the research, and for the progress and productivity of research, in the UK and world-wide -- but as a means of sustaining the current revenue streams of peer-reviewed journal publishers, come what may.
That is why the Government's "travel" plans tend to be framed far less in terms of the real needs of UK research and researchers and far more in terms of "business models," "market," a "mixed economy," and how these can be "re-engineered" to keep them congruent with publishers' terms and timetable.
There seems to be little room in the UK Government's vision for even considering the following contingencies:
-- that 100% OA is not only already fully feasible today, thanks to the online medium, but also urgent for research and researchers, indeed already overdue;
-- that the online era has already made a lot of the traditional products and services of journal publishers (and their costs) obsolete;
-- that publishers' current revenue streams are greatly and needlessly inflated;
-- and that the embargoes and other retardants that publishers are themselves placing in the path of OA are not, in reality, necessities, to sustain the essential functions of peer-reviewed journal publishing, as publishers claim; they are merely contrived to prop up the expensive and obsolescent functions of publishers in order to sustain publishers' current highly inflated levels of income at all costs, come what may.
What is keeping the economy "mixed" and slow to provide OA, in other words, is that publishers are holding OA hostage to their current revenue streams, by embargoing Green, and transitioning to Gold only on terms and on a timetable that lock in those revenue streams.
The UK Government's "re-engineering" plans are designed to make sure any transition stays on that track and timetable.
UKGOV: "...Government's approach, therefore, amounts to a subtle re-engineering of the present market. By 'nudging' the flow of revenue for the publishing industry towards it becoming income from Article Publication Charges (APCs) for Gold OA…"This "subtle re-engineering of the present market" consists of sustaining current publisher income streams (and modera operandi) by only providing OA on condition that current subscription revenue levels per article are sustained, and continue to be collectable in the form of Gold APCs in place of subscriptions.
There is no thought given to the distinct possibility that with all peer-reviewed final drafts deposited in institutional Green OA repositories, there will no longer be any need or demand for a print edition, online edition, access-provision or archiving (and their associated costs) from the peer-reviewed journal publisher: only the need for peer review (which is only a fraction of the cost of subscription publishing today).
And no thought of the real "market" that could indeed decide whether in a 100% Green OA world there will be any real demand left for anything else that peer-reviewed journal publishers offer, forcibly co-bundled with the peer review.
UK publicly funded research is being conceived by the UK Government as if it were primarily an investment in the journal publishing industry rather than in research productivity, applications and progress.
Some "nudge"! Some notion!
UKGOV: "...96% of journals have an embargo period of 24 months or less; 64% of journals have an embargo period of 12 months or less… This illustrates the extent to which the Government's policy already is being complied with…"Hardly. The effect of the UK policy has been precisely the opposite. More and longer embargoes have been adopted by publishers since the new UK policy was announced and began to be implemented.
Yet despite this perverse effect, the percentage of publishers that endorse immediate, unembargoed Green OA remains over 60% according to SHERPA Romeo data (much as it was before the Finch/RCUK policy). (This figure is camouflaged in the Government's composite category of 64% with "an embargo period of 12 months or less .")
(And aren't the ones who are supposed to comply with a funder mandate the fundees, rather than publishers? Are we mixing up our constituencies here -- or simply giving a hint of who's really calling the shots?)
UKGOV: "...The Government, through HEFCE and the Research Councils, will continue to encourage Jisc, the Open Access Implementation Group (OAIG) and others to promote standardisation and compliance across subject and institutional repositories…"Far more important for the UK Government to promote would be the institutional adoption of a mechanism for verifying compliance with its OA policy -- in particular, its Green option (rather than just focusing on how the Gold is spent). HEFCE has provided a potential mechanism, in requiring immediate deposit (whether or not OA to the deposit is embargoed) for REF eligibility.
Institutions (ever eager to ensure compliance with funders' conditions) will thereby be recruited and strongly motivated to monitor and ensure timely compliance. (Funding that would be a constructive use for unspent RCUK Gold OA funding.)
UKGOV: "...RCUK have balanced the objective of timely OA to all users with the need to respect, through a mutually acceptable embargo period, sustainable business models…"Translation: RCUK has collaborated with publishers in embargoing OA to make sure that OA is only provided on publishers' terms and timetable. (This is the UK/publishing-industry "re-engineering" plan.)
Fortunately, there is a remedy for this, and that is the HEFCE immediate-deposit mandate, plus the institutional repositories' automated request-a-copy Button, which allows users to request and authors to provide (with one click each) a copy for research or educational purposes during any embargo (i.e., the Liege-model mandate, which is the one the UK should adopt.)
UKGOV: "...A re-engineering of the research publications market entails a journey not an event. Necessarily it requires a period of transition for the process of change. Longer embargo periods, as illustrated below, play an important part under some circumstances during the transition process…"Translation: RCUK has collaborated with publishers in embargoing OA to make sure that OA is only provided on publishers' terms and timetable.
This "journey" to "re-engineer the research publications market" is actually a government-funded business trip to guarantee publishers' current income at UK tax-payers' expense (and at the cost of lost research usage and impact). Not a happy "event" for UK research and researchers -- or for global OA.
UKGOV: "...Government believes that the first signs of the impact of its OA policy on embargo periods have been beneficial…"Beneficial for publishers, perhaps, but certainly not for researchers, nor for OA, since the policy's perverse effect has been to encourage publishers to adopt and extend embargoes, not to shorten or drop them. (Nevertheless, over 60% of journals still do not embargo Green OA, despite the UK OA policy.)
UKGOV: "...as stated in David Willetts' letter of 20 June 2013, UK policy already is leading to shorter embargo periods for Green OA…"It is very hard to imagine what David Willetts is imagining here: The adoption of a Green OA embargo that is within Finch/RCUK's current allowable limits is hardly a triumph for OA if the publisher formerly did not embargo Green OA at all (or had not yet formulated a policy).
Moreover, an embargo of a year or longer is no boon at all for OA. It is unspoken, but I think it's fairly clear that most publishers are by now resigned to one-year embargoes on Green, along with a mandated push toward hybrid Gold. They know that most of the revenue in question comes from that first year.
So a "deal" to let publishers hold OA hostage to that one-year embargo (or else pay Gold) is not good news for research and research progress in an era where immediate 100% Green OA is fully within reach, technically and practically speaking, and where the costs of peer-reviewed journal publishing could be radically reduced if freed from the grip of publisher Green OA embargoes.
But again, there is a remedy for this, and that remedy is the HEFCE immediate-deposit mandate, plus the institutional repositories' automated request-a-copy Button, which allows users to request and authors to provide (with one click each) a copy for research or educational purposes during any embargo. (This is again the Liege-model mandate, which is the one the UK should adopt.)
UKGOV: "...Publication of the results of publicly funded research is an integral part of the research process…"This re-statement of the Wellcome Trust mantra continues to ignore the fact that the UK (but not Wellcome) also has to pay the costs of journal subscriptions. Hence the Gold APC costs are over and above subscription costs (which are likewise "a legitimate part of the cost of undertaking research").
That means Gold OA APCs today are needless double-payments, over and above uncancellable subscriptions: "Fool's Gold." The only way they can turn into "Fair Gold" is if mandatory Green OA first prevails, eventually allowing subscriptions to be cancelled (and driving down publication costs by offloading access-provision and archiving onto Green OA repositories).
Then the price of Gold will drop to a fair, affordable, sustainable level, single-paid out of the institutional subscription cancellation savings, instead of double-paid, needlessly, as now, out of scarce UK research funds -- needless because while subscriptions are still being paid (fully and fulsomely), Green OA can provide the OA.
UKGOV: "...HEFCE and other Funding Councils have agreed that QR funding may be used [to pay for Gold] at the discretion of the HEIs. Hence, HEIs have access to the necessary public funds to cover the cost of implementing the Government's and RCUK's OA policy…"For UK researchers and institutions who deplore wasting scarce research funds to pay publishers even more money, it is hardly solace to tell them that if their UK Gold allotment runs out, they can squander their research money from other sources on fool's gold too.
(But fortunately, be the Government ever so grudging about it, freedom of author choice between Green and Gold is now restored by RCUK, so the best protection against wasting UK research funds on Gold is to provide Green instead, via immediate-deposit, irrespective of embargo-length.)
UKGOV: "...The Government is aware of the reluctance of some HEIs to promote the Government's preference for Gold OA, on the grounds that it represents a reduction in funding available for research, but the cost of the Government's funded OA policy is estimated to be… approximately one per cent of the science budget… This is a marginal cost expected to be outweighed by the benefits to the economy arising from direct innovation and spill over benefits…"(1) As noted, the UK's designated funding for outgoing UK Gold is far from being the whole of the UK's publication funding: The UK continues to pay for essential incoming journal subscriptions. And it is that level of spending that the UK is collaborating with publishers to "re-engineer" so as to sustain it whether it's paid in the form of subscriptions or in the form of Gold APCs.
(2) So the extra marginal costs of the UK Gold subsidy (a further 1% of the UK's research spend) are over and above the existing UK publication spend.
(3) Researchers cannot be expected to welcome the loss of yet another 1% of their already sparse research funding -- and especially not when it is lost just for the purpose of propping up publishers' already inflated revenue levels, come what may, in exchange for an OA that researchers could have at no further expense (beyond the existing UK subscription spend) via Green OA -- if it were not for the publisher embargo on it -- an embargo that the UK government is reinforcing, with its joint "re-engineering" plans to "nudge" researchers toward Gold OA.
Fortunately, there is a remedy for this, and that is the HEFCE immediate-deposit mandate -- plus the institutional repositories' automated request-a-copy Button, which allows users to request and authors to provide (with one click each) a copy for research or educational purposes during any publisher embargo (i.e., the Liege-model mandate, which is the one the UK should adopt.)
Because RCUK has restored authors' freedom of choice of journal, and because HEFCE proposes requiring immediate-deposit for REF eligibility, UK researchers can choose to publish in any journal and can fulfill the RCUK mandate through immediate deposit in their institutional repository, whether or not OA to the deposit is embargoed. It is this immediate deposit that can -- with the help of the repository's automated request-a-copy Button during any embargo period -- "re-engineer" publishing to Fair Gold (after 100% Green OA has prevailed, and made it possible for publishers to downsize to an affordable, sustainable price for peer review alone) instead of the Fool's Gold toward which the UK government has set the "direction" for the UK's "journey" toward OA.
Gold OA the dominant form of OA? Far from the truth.BISCOM: "The Government and RCUK should clarify that Gold open access is the ultimate goal of, rather than the primary route to, their open access policies. We recommend that the Government and RCUK reconsider their preference for Gold open access during the five year transition period, and give due regard to the evidence of the vital role that Green open access and repositories have to play as the UK moves towards full open access. (Paragraph 70)"UKGOV: "...Gold OA, at 12 per cent, is now proving to be the dominant form of OA.
Spontaneous, unmandated Green OA is already twice that figure, and if effectively mandated (on the HEFCE/Liege model) Green OA is over 10 times that figure, with the majority of deposits being done even before the date of publication.
UKGOV: "...the Government and RCUK would maintain that the merits of Gold OA (immediate, final published version, compatibility with data mining, unrestricted access and re-use, with attribution) mean that it is preferred to Green OA.Preferred by whom? Finch/RCUK or UK researchers (and the rest of the world)?
(1) Much of today's Green OA is immediate; some of today's Gold OA is delayed. The embargoes are a result of publisher preference to sustain their current revenue levels come what may.
(2) To researchers who are denied access to unaffordable publishers' versions, toll-free online access to the author's Green OA final draft is the difference between night and day, insofar as research applications and progress are concerned.
(3) While access itself is restricted (both by publishers' subscription access tolls and by publishers' OA embargoes) freeing access is incomparably more important and urgent than paying publishers still more for further re-use rights.
(4) The fastest, fairest and surest way to reach Fair Gold OA and all the re-use rights users need and authors want to provide is to first mandate that authors provide Green OA -- rather than to require pre-emptive double-payment, over and above uncancellable subscriptions, out of scarce research funds, for Fool's Gold OA, at arbitrarily inflated prices, on the pretext of needing to sustain publishers' current revenue streams (otherwise peer-reviewed publishing will perish).
UKGOV: "...The use of repositories is a feature of both Gold and Green OA. In terms of the sustainability of long term access to published research and data…"Before institutional repositories can preserve access they must first provide it. To provide it they must have effective deposit mandates.
(There are no publisher embargoes holding up data-archiving, so it is a red herring to mention data in this context.)
The remedy is again obvious (to all but the UK Government: the publishing lobby is certainly fully aware of it, because it is fighting it tooth and nail):
Mandate immediate-deposit of all articles, whether published in a subscription journal or a Gold OA journal, whether OA is embargoed or immediate, whether the OA is Gratis (toll-free online access) or Libre (toll-free online access plus various re-use rights such as text-mining, re-mixing and re-publication).
That, with the help of the Button, will ensure that 100% Green Gratis OA -- and eventually Fair Libre Gold OA -- will come to pass as quickly as possible: affordably, scalably and sustainably.
UKGOV: "...the UK OA Decision Tree sets out clearly the direction of travel. This is not incompatible with researchers having a free choice as to whether or not to follow the preferred path. Government and RCUK hope they will choose to do so. Government welcomes RCUK retaining this decision tree. It has been agreed by all affected parties, and does not simply reflect the publishers' position, but the consensus position arrived at by members of the Finch Group…"I suppose it's enough that the Government agrees that UK researchers and institutions are free not to follow the preferred path, hence can ignore the decision tree.
But it would have been more forthright and sensible to abandon the decision tree altogether, rather than leave it as a misleading sign-post.
It is indeed true that the UK-Government/Publishing-Lobby joint "re-engineering" plan for "nudging" UK researchers toward (Fool's) Gold Open Access "does not simply reflect the publishers' position, but the consensus position arrived at by members of the Finch Group."
But what is patently false is that it has "been agreed by all affected parties."
UKGOV: "...Government believes that by [funding hybrid Gold] the rate of adoption of Gold OA by publishers and researchers alike will accelerate…"No doubt it will. But the goal of UK research, researchers, their institutions and the UK tax-payers who are funding the research is not to accelerate the UK rate of adoption of Gold OA but to accelerate the rate of provision of OA -- in the UK and worldwide.
UKGOV: "...Evidence quoted above from the Publishers Association suggests that this is already proving to be the case. Researchers would be disappointed to have publication in their favoured journals denied to them if they opt for Gold OA and publishers would not want the inefficiencies, or brand dilution effects, of always putting publication of Gold OA material in to a new and separate journal…"This ludicrous and embarassing piece of self-promotional spin is so obviously a page borrowed from the publishers' agenda that it does not deserve a reply. It is shameful that the Government of the United Kingdom is echoing this tendentious sales pitch as its own.
UKGOV: "...Government does not consider it appropriate for publishers to rely on retrospectively amortising their APC revenue to discount global subscription rates, as some now do. This may address 'double-dipping' in one sense, (no increase in total revenue to the publisher) but it does nothing to address the concerns of research intensive individual institutions, wherever they are located around the world. Such institutions paying APCs for Gold OA publication in particular journals should see some related and proportional discount in their total subscription fees, with the same publisher, to avoid them disproportionately funding the translation to Gold OA…"This pious homily is actually masking a piece of uncritical, unreflective and unrealistic nonsense:
If the Government agrees that a UK subscription rebate of only 6% of a UK Gold OA 6% overspend (i.e., 6% of 6%), over and above the UK's 100% subscription spend, is not an "appropriate" way for publishers to refrain from double-dipping, what on earth does the UK imagine publishers will do instead? Because if publishers simply deduct the fee for UK hybrid Gold OA directly from UK subscription fees, that's just tantamount to declaring the UK can have all the hybrid Gold OA it wants for free.
That would be just fine (since subscription fees are already paying the costs of publication in full): UK authors would automatically be free of embargoes and would automatically retain all desired re-use rights for the hybrid Gold journals in question.
But free hybrid Gold for subscribers is not at all what publishers have in mind, given how anxious they are to embargo Green (so I suggest that the UK re-discuss their joint "re-engineering" plans in this regard).
Here's a hint: Publishers are only interested in a transition scenario that guarantees their current income streams, regardless of where they come from. They are just as averse to immediate-Gold OA as to immediate-Green OA, because it is the sustainability of their current revenue levels that is at risk. So unless the hybrid Gold fees are real and sustainable -- which they are not, if they are merely funny-money, available to every subscribing institution as a free bonus -- publishers will not budge on the UK Government's plaintive nudge for a "proportional discount in their total subscription fees."
Tuesday, November 26. 2013
Research Councils UK Response to BIS Committee
RCUK: compliance targets for the numbers of papers made available Open Access will be increased year-on-year, as will the funding we make available to support Article Processing Charges (APCs).This is a publishing industry timetable and terms.
The RCUK compliance target should be for OA (Green + Gold), not just for Gold payments; and the annual OA target should be 100%.
Funding-based annual targets slow OA growth whilst making it much more costly to provide OA.
What is needed is a mechanism for monitoring and ensuring timely compliance. That's what institutions (recruited by HEFCE's immediate-deposit mandate for REF2020 eligibility) will provide.
RCUK: During the transition period, we are allowing authors to use journals with embargo periods longer than the headline figure in the policy, but in line with those agreed by the Government, for publicly funded research where no funds are available to cover the payment of APCs.This is unclear. Relaxing the enforcement of embargo limits on Green is good, because it preserves author freedom of choice of journal. But if it is only for when there's no money to pay for Gold, it again incentivizes publishers to offer over-priced, double-paid hybrid Gold and to adopt or lengthen Green embargoes so as to collect as much extra UK Gold revenue as available.
RCUK: We are not convinced that institutional repositories are always the best way of providing [OA], and that solutions such as 'request a copy' button or emailing the researcher for a copy of the paper are not scalable to a wider constituency of users.RCUK has misunderstood the repositories' request-a-copy Button. It only requires a key press by the requestor and a key press by the author; the emailing is then automatic, by the repository software.
It is not clear what RCUK means by "not scalable": Any requestor with email access can request a copy, for either research or educational purposes.
The purpose of the Button is
(1) to make immediate-deposit mandates adoptable and scaleable to all institutions and funders;
(2) to provide Almost-OA during any embargo period;
(3)to immunize against publisher embargoes on Green OA;
(4) to make sure authors only need to deposit once, institutionally (from there, deposits can be exported or harvested);
(5) to recruit institutions to monitor and ensure compliance with OA mandates;
(6) to make sure all articles are deposited;
(7) to document the demand for OA;
(8) to increase global demand and pressure for immediate OA;
(9) to hasten the transition from Almost-OA to OA.
RCUK: the headline figure quoted in the report that 60% of journals already allow immediate un-embargoed self-archiving of the peer-reviewed version of the article does not reflect the reality for Research Council funded authors. A comparable figure for journals used by Research Council funded authors is between 17% and 20% .Sixty percent continues to be the worldwide estimate of the proportion of subscription journals that do not embargo Green OA. It is not clear where or how RCUK draws its UK-specific estimates, but it is likely that they are factoring the perverse effects of the Finch/RCUK policy itself, which has induced major publishers like Elsevier -- which does not embargo Green OA -- to adopt embargoes for UK content (if UK authors seek the re-use rights RCUK prefers) unless hybrid Gold fees are paid, as well as to add pseudo-legal hedges about "voluntariness" and "systematicity" to its formerly unhedged policy on Green OA.
RCUK is confusing cause and effect in its assessment of embargoes: The UK's explicit funding and preference for CC-BY Gold and downgrading of Green as "embargoed OA" has induced (some) publishers to adopt or lengthen Green embargoes. RCUK now cites this effect as if it were a justification for RCUK's having adopted what in fact caused it in the first place.
RCUK: RCUK has a preference for immediate, unrestricted, on-line access to peer-reviewed and published research papers, free of any access charge and with maximum opportunities for re-use. This is commonly referred to as the 'gold' route to Open Access. RCUK prefers 'gold' Open AccessGold OA means the publisher provides the OA. Green OA means the author provides it.
Gratis OA means free online access. Libre OA means free online access plus "maximum opportunities for re-use" (e.g., CC-BY).
Gold OA does not necessarily entail Gold OA APCs and most Gold OA is not Libre OA.
Both Green and Gold OA can be immediate or embargoed.
RCUK conflates "Gold OA" with immediate OA and Libre OA.
RCUK conflates "Green OA" with embargoed OA.
Hence most of the RCUK's evidence and reasoning amounts to self-justifying definitions and self-fulfilling prophecy.
RCUK: by going directly to the journal web site a reader can be confident that they are accessing the final peer-reviewed and formally published record of research.By paying publishers a considerable amount of extra money for Gold OA, over and above what publishers are already being paid for subscriptions, the UK can indeed give readers this tiny increase in confidence -- But the reader can be almost as confident in the Green OA version, without this vast extra payment.
Former council mandates were Green, but weak. They did not require immediate deposit, but only deposit after an allowable embargo period had elapsed, with no monitoring to ensure timely compliance.BISCOM: "RCUK should build on its original world leading policy by reinstating and strengthening the immediate deposit mandate in its original policy (in line with HEFCE's proposals) and improving the monitoring and enforcement of mandated deposit (paragraph 31)."RCUK:The current RCUK policy is much stronger in requiring deposit and access within clearly defined time periods. Reinstating individual council policies would be a backward step.
A forward step is to upgrade the former council mandates to require immediate institutional deposit, whether or not access to the deposit is embargoed for an allowable period (as HEFCE has since proposed, for eligibility for REF2020). Institutions monitor and ensure compliance with funding conditions and the institutional repository's request-a-copy Button tides over usage needs during the embargo.
The backward step is to prefer to double-pay for immediate Libre Gold with the UK's scarce research funds -- and to portray Green OA as meaning embargoed Gratis OA or a version of which one cannot even be confident. (To have bought into this specious argument is the surest sign of how publisher interests have been allowed to penetrate what ought to have been UK research interests.)
RCUK is completely silent about the fundamental objections BIS raised against funding hybrid Gold (subscriptions + Gold OA APCs):
(1) Hybrid Gold is arbitrarily over-priced.
(2) Hybrid Gold is double-paid (subscriptions + Gold OA APCs)
(3) Hybrid Gold makes double-dipping possible
(4) Double-dipping subscription rebates to all subscribing institutions worldwide only returns 6% of 6% of UK's Gold OA APC subsidy to the UK.
(5) Subsidizing and encouraging hybrid Gold encourages publisher adoption and lengthening of Green OA embargoes to pressure authors to pick and pay for Gold.
RCUK is astoundingly ill-informed: Since 2004, well before Finch/RCUK, Elsevier has not embargoed Green OA at all. Under the incentive of the Gold OA funding mandated by Finch/RCUK, Elsevier has now adopted explicit embargoes for Libre Green, as well as some (meaningless) double-talk about Gratis Green (it must be "voluntary" and must not be "systematic").BISCOM: "Given the importance of ensuring that UK open access policy does not result in reduced access in the UK or worldwide, the Government and RCUK must monitor and evaluate the impact of their open access policy on embargo lengths imposed by UK publishers. The impact on different subject areas must also be carefully monitored. That information must inform future meetings of the Finch Group and RCUK's reviews of open access policy (paragraph 51)."RCUK: we welcome the recent reduction in embargo periods by Elsevier, such that the majority of its journals now offer a green option with 12/24 month embargo periods in line with those agreed by the Government for publicly funded research where no funds are available to cover the payment of APCs, as well as a hybrid-gold option.
Nothing for RCUK to welcome, if RCUK's interests are with research access rather than publisher profits.
This re-statement of the Wellcome Trust mantra continues to ignore the fact that the UK (but not Wellcome) also has to pay the costs of journal subscriptions. Hence the Gold APC costs are over and above subscription costs (which are likewise "a legitiame part of the cost of undertaking research").BISCOM: "We are concerned that the expectation appears to be that universities and research organisations will fund the balance of APCs and open access costs from their own reserves. We look to the Government and RCUK to mitigate against the impact on university budgets. The Government must not underestimate the significance of this issue (paragraph 64)."RCUK: Publication of research results is an integral part of the research process, and is thus a legitimate part of the cost of undertaking research. RCUK is committed to providing the necessary funding to cover the costs of publishing papers arising from the research funded by the Research Councils.
That means Gold OA APCs today are needless double-payments: "Fool's Gold." The only way they can turn into "Fair Gold" is if Green OA first prevails, eventually allowing subscriptions to be cancelled (and driving down publication costs by offloading access-provision and archiving onto Green OA repositories). Then the price of Gold will drop to a fair, affordable, sustainable level, single-paid out of the institutional subscription cancellation savings, instead of double-paid, needlessly, as now, out of scarce research funds. -- Needless, because while subscriptions are still being paid, Green OA can provide the OA.
RCUK: The shared ultimate goal of full Gold open accessThe proximal goal (still far away) is 100% Gratis OA; this can be reached by mandating Green OA (with the immediate-deposit clause + Button). The ultimate goal is affordable, sustainable OA, at a fair price, with as many re-use rights as users need and researchers want to provide.
Gold OA means publisher-provided OA. RCUK is referring to immediate, fee-based Libre Gold OA -- but re-naming it "Gold OA" as if to contrast with Green OA.BISCOM: "The Government and RCUK should clarify that Gold open access is the ultimate goal of, rather than the primary route to, their open access policies. We recommend that the Government and RCUK reconsider their preference for Gold open access during the five year transition period, and give due regard to the evidence of the vital role that Green open access and repositories have to play as the UK moves towards full open access (paragraph 70)."RCUK: RCUK's preference is for immediate, unrestricted on-line access, aka Gold open access, for reasons defined in section 2 of this response.
Green OA means author-provided OA. RCUK is trying to portray Green OA as embargoed Gratis Green OA. This is publishers' preferred way of spinning the meaning of "Green OA": the same publishers that are embargoing Green OA in an attempt to make their definition a self-fulfilling prophecy.
And, regrettably, under the influence of the publishing lobby (unwittingly aided and abetted by the Wellcome Trust as well as the minority of researchers who are in a great hurry for Libre OA), Finch/RCUK have fallen for it, hook, line and sinker.
Why attach a decision tree to a new policy, now, that authors are trying to understand, now, when the decision tree does not apply now, but will only apply eventually (maybe)?BISCOM: "RCUK's current guidance provides that the choice of Green or Gold open access lies with the author and the author's institution, even if the Gold option is available from the publisher. This is incompatible with the Publishers Association's decision tree, and RCUK should therefore withdraw its endorsement of the decision tree as soon as possible, to avoid further confusion within the academic and publishing communities (paragraph 71)."RCUK: …the 'decision tree'… represents the post-transition 'end state' ... institutions now understand the flexibility we are offering during the transition period, and that the 'decision tree' has to be seen within the context of this flexibility.
(Is this not yet another way of digging heels in with: "My mind's made up: Don't confuse me with facts!")
"My mind's made up! Don't confuse me with facts!" -- facts about over-pricing, double-payment, double-dipping, "rebates," and perverse effects:BISCOM: "If RCUK and the Government continue to maintain their preference for Gold, they should amend their policies so that APCs are only paid to publishers of pure Gold rather than hybrid journals. This would eliminate the risk of double dipping by journals, and encourage innovation in the scholarly publishing market (paragraph 77)."RCUK: RCUK made an explicit decision not to restrict the RCUK block grants only to covering APC costs for pure Gold journals. To have done so would have restricted the choice of authors as to where they could publish their research by limiting them to pure Gold journals if they wanted to 'go gold'... RCUK commitment to provide APC funding without restriction has already driven change within the publishing industry, with many major subscription journals now offering a hybrid-gold option for the journals that Research Council authors chose to publish in. It is unlikely that publishers would have made these changes if RCUK had restricted its APC funding to pure Gold journals.
Gold payments are in any case double-payments (subscriptions + Gold APCs). If paid to the same publisher (hybrid Gold), they also allow publisher double-dipping. But even if not double-dipped, but instead paid back as a rebate to all subscribing institutions, that just means the UK's 6% double-payment subsidizes all subscribers worldwide with a 6% subscription reduction! The UK itself only gets back 6% of the Gold APC subsidy it has provided for the rest of the world.
And far from following the UK's profligacy with this needless foray into paying for Fool's Gold, the rest of the world -- which mandates Green, not Gold -- is left saddled with the perverse effects of the UK's incentives to hybrid Gold publishers: offer hybrid gold, pick your price, and adopt or lengthen embargoes on Green!
RCUK: RCUK considers that publishers need to ensure that subscriptions paid by institutions for hybrid journals reflect any additional revenue that the journal has received through the APCs that the institution has paid in order to publish 'gold' papers in that journal.See above: RCUK thinks that a 6% rebate of a needless 6% double-spend (6% of 6%) is sufficient solace. It is not clear that UK tax-payers would or should see it that way. Nor should UK researchers. (Nor should researchers worldwide, in view of the perverse effects of UK policy on Green OA embargoes worldwide.)
RCUK: Whilst RCUK does not restrict its policy to supporting only pure Gold journals, institutions are free to decide how they allocate their RCUK block grants, and this could include declining to make APC payments to specific hybrid Gold journals that institutions may consider guilty of 'double-dipping'.How are institutions supposed to figure out whether publishers are double-dipping?
The best thing institutions can do with the scarce research funds RCUK has needlessly re-directed to double-paying publishers for Fool's Gold is to make sure all their authors immediately deposit their final, refereed drafts in the institutional repository and make them Green OA as soon as possible.
And instead of wasting the RCUK OA funds on Fool's Gold, they should spend them on implementing a reliable mechanism for monitoring and ensuring timely compliance with the HEFCE immediate-deposit requirement.
Tuesday, November 19. 2013
Ann Okerson (as interviewed by Richard Poynder) is committed to licensing. I am not sure whether the commitment is ideological or pragmatic, but it's clearly a lifelong ("asymptotic") commitment by now.
I was surprised to see the direction Ann ultimately took because -- as I have admitted many times -- it was Ann who first opened my eyes to (what eventually came to be called) "Open Access."
In the mid and late 80's I was still just in the thrall of the scholarly and scientific potential of the revolutionarily new online medium itself ("Scholarly Skywriting"), eager to get everything to be put online. It was Ann's work on the serials crisis that made me realize that it was not enough just to get it all online: it also had to be made accessible (online) to all of its potential users, toll-free -- not just to those whose institutions could afford the access-tolls (licenses).
And even that much I came to understand, sluggishly, only after I had first realized that what set apart the writings in question was not that they were (as I had first naively dubbed them) "esoteric" (i.e., they had few users) but that they were peer-reviewed research journal articles, written by researchers solely for impact, not for income.
But I don't think the differences between Ann and me can be set down to pragmatics vs. ideology. I too am far too often busy trying to free the growth of open access from the ideologues (publishing reformers, rights reformers (Ann's "open use" zealots), peer review reformers, freedom of information reformers) who are slowing the progress (from "now" to "better") of access to peer-reviewed journal articles by insisting only and immediately on what they believe is the "best." Like Ann, I, too, am all pragmatics (repository software, analyses of the OA impact advantage, mandates, analyses of mandate effeciveness).
So Ann just seems to have a different sense of what can (hence should) be done, now, to maximize access, and how (as well as how fast). And after her initial, infectious inclination toward toll-free access (which I and others caught from her) she has apparently concluded that what is needed is to modify the terms of the tolls (i.e., licensing).
This is well-illustrated by Ann's view on SCOAP3: "All it takes is for libraries to agree that what they’ve now paid as subscription fees for those journals will be paid instead to CERN, who will in turn pay to the publishers as subsidy for APCs."
I must alas disagree with this view, on entirely pragmatic -- indeed logical -- grounds: the transition from annual institutional subscription fees to annual consortial OA publication fees is an incoherent, unscalable, unsustainable Escherian scheme that contains the seeds of its own dissolution, rather than a pragmatic means of reaching a stable "asymptote": Worldwide, across all disciplines, there are P institutions, Q journals, and R authors, publishing S articles per year. The only relevant item is the article. The annual consortial licensing model -- reminiscent of the Big Deal -- is tantamount to a global oligopoly and does not scale (beyond CERN!).
So if SCOAP3 is the pragmatic basis for Ann's "predict[ion that] we’ll see such journals evolve into something more like 'full traditional OA' before too much longer" then one has some practical basis for scepticism -- a scepticism Ann shares when it comes to "hybrid Gold" OA journals -- unless of course such a transition to Fool's Gold is both mandated and funded by governments, as the UK and Netherlands governments have lately proposed, under the influence of their publishing lobbies! But the globalization of such profligate folly seems unlikely on the most pragmatic grounds of all: affordability. (The scope for remedying world hunger, disease or injustice that way are marginally better -- and McDonalds would no doubt be interested in such a yearly global consortial pre-payment deal for their Big Macs too…)
I also disagree (pragmatically) with Ann's apparent conflation of the access problem for journal articles with the access problem for books. (It's the inadequacy of the "esoteric" criterion again. Many book authors -- hardly pragmatists -- still dream of sales & riches, and fear that free online access would thwart these dreams, driving away the prestigious publishers whose imprimaturs distinguish their work from vanity press.)
Pragmatically speaking, OA to articles has already proved slow enough in coming, and has turned out to require mandates to induce and embolden authors to make their articles OA. But for articles, at least, there is author consensus that OA is desirable, hence there is the motivation to comply with OA mandates from authors' institutions and funders. Books, still a mixed bag, will have to wait. Meanwhile, no one is stopping those book authors who want to make their books free online from picking publishers who agree…
And there are plenty of pragmatic reasons why the librarian-obsession -- perhaps not ideological, but something along the same lines -- with the Version-of-Record is misplaced when it comes to access to journal articles: The author's final, peer-reviewed, accepted draft means the difference between night and day for would-be users whose institutions cannot afford toll-access to the publisher's proprietary VoR.
And for the time being the toll-access VoR is safe [modulo the general digital-preservation problem, which is not an OA problem], while subscription licenses are being paid by those who can afford them. CHORUS and SHARE have plenty of pragmatic advantages for publishers (and ideological ones for librarians), but they are vastly outweighed by their practical disadvantages for research and researchers -- of which the biggest is that they leave access-provision in the hands of publishers (and their licensing conditions).
About the Marie-Antoinette option for the developing world -- R4L -- the less said, the better. The pragmatics really boil down to time: the access needs of both the developing and the developed world are pressing. Partial and makeshift solutions are better than nothing, now. But it's been "now" for an awfully long time; and time is not an ideological but a pragmatic matter; so is lost research usage and impact.
Ann says: "Here’s the fondest hope of the pragmatic OA advocate: that we settle on a series of business practices that truly make the greatest possible collection of high-value material accessible to the broadest possible audience at the lowest possible cost — not just lowest cost to end users, but lowest cost to all of us."
Here's a slight variant, by another pragmatic OA advocate: "that we settle on a series of research community policies that truly make the greatest possible collection of peer-reviewed journal articles accessible online free for all users, to the practical benefit of all of us."
The online medium has made this practically possible. The publishing industry -- pragmatists rather than ideologists -- will adapt to this new practical reality. Necessity is the Mother of Invention.
Let me close by suggesting that perhaps something Richard Poynder wrote is not quite correct either: He wrote "It was [the] affordability problem that created the accessibility problem that OA was intended to solve."
No, it was the creation of the online medium that made OA not only practically feasible (and optimal) for research and researchers, but inevitable. (See the opening words of the Budapest Open Access Initiative.) But Richard is probably right that it was affordability that (eventually) roused librarians -- first to consortial licensing, and then to OA.
Monday, November 18. 2013
Finch II: Accessibility, Sustainability, Excellence: A Review of Progress in Implementing the Recommendations of the Finch Report (October 2013)
"Our review is based on a rigorous analysis of evidence from a wide range of sources."Hardly. The Finch II review is in fact a very selective re-hash of opinions and opinion-surveys, with nothing faintly resembling the objective evidence called for by the BIS Select Committee.
This exceedingly long, rambling, incoherent new Finch report has very little that is new or substantive; it is mostly vague, self-congratulatory sloganeering. But its thrust is clear: Despite all the objections and counter-evidence to Finch I, and despite the very trenchant and specific critique and recommendations of the BIS Select Committee, Finch II is simply digging in its heels and sticking to what it said in Finch I.
This is clearly the result of remarkably successful lobbying by the UK journal publishing industry (aided and abetted by a small fervent minority of OA advocates who consider free online access insufficient, and insist on paying extra for a CC-BY license that allows re-use, text-mining, re-mixing and re-publication) -- plus a good deal of woolly-mindedness (and perhaps some pig-headedness too) in the Finch Committee and its advisors (e.g., the Wellcome Trust).
The most important amendment grudgingly admitted by Finch II is that UK researchers are now free to choose between providing OA via the Green route (of publishing articles in any journal at all, by making the article OA in a repository after any allowable publisher embargo has expired) or via the Gold route (by paying the publisher [pure Gold or hybrid] to make the article OA immediately [with a CC-BY license]).
I will not rehearse again the many reasons why paying for Gold OA is a waste of UK public funds, double-paying arbitrarily inflated "Fool's Gold" fees to publishers for the UK's outgoing 6% of worldwide research, over and above paying subscription fees to publishers for all incoming research. The fact is that Finch has now conceded that researchers are free to choose whether or not to pay for Gold, so UK researchers need not waste money on Fool's Gold unless they wish to. Author choice is restored.
Moreover, Green OA embargo length limits will not be enforced for at least two years (Finch/RCUK are instead focussing all their attention on montoring how the Gold funds are being spent).
And Finch II also seems to have grudgingly conceded that the parallel HEFCE addendum -- requiring that in order to be eligible for REF2020, all articles must be deposited in the author's institutional repository immediately upon publlication (not after an embargo, nor just before REF2020) -- is likely to be adopted.
This concession should not have been grudging, because the HEFCE/REF addendum in fact provides the crucial missing component that will make the Finch/RCUK mandate succeed, despite Finch's preference for Fool's Gold: It provides the all-important mechanism for monitoring and ensuring timely compliance, by recruiting institutions (ever ready to do anything they possibly can to increase their chances of success in REF) to ensure that deposit is immediate, even if OA is embargoed. (During any embargo the institutonal repositories also have the automated copy-request Button, which enables users to request and authors to provide individual copies for research purposes with just one click each.)
Finch II nevertheless continues to crow about the Finch Policy serving as a beacon for the rest of the world:
"It is clear also that our 2012 Report and the subsequent policy developments have proved a catalyst for activity not only in the UK, but internationally."In point of fact, apart from the UK, the only other country with a Finch-like preference for Gold is the Netherlands, as has just been announced, almost simultaneously with the release of Finch II. It is no coincidence, of course, that the UK and the Netherlands are the hosts of the world's largest journal fleet publishers, who have been feverishly lobbying worldwide against mandating Green and for instead funding Gold. The lobbying has had no success anywhere else on the planet, which now has over 80 funder OA mandates and over 200 institutional OA mandates, all of which are Green, except for the UK. (The Netherlands has not mandated OA at all, but threatens to emulate the Finch/RCUK preferential-Gold mandate in 2 years if there is not enough voluntary response.)
So, no news from Finch II, but promising prospects for a HEFCE/REF immediate-deposit requirement that will make the Finch/RCUK Green option succeed.
There are some telling signs, however, of just how fully Finch is in the thrall of the publisher lobby: Open Access is about access to research, yet Finch keeps referring to a "mixed economy" and a "transition," as if OA were about publishers' business models, hence about publishing economics, rather than about research access and impact, and as if the goal were Gold OA, rather than OA itself:
"We hold to the view that a transition via a mixed economy to Gold OA, where publication costs are met mainly by the payment of [Gold OA fees], is the most effective way of balancing our [sic] objectives of increased access, sustainability and excellence."This is also a good point to look more closely at "our" "sustainability" objective: What is it that "we" (who is "we"?) must be be careful to sustain, in the transition to OA: peer-reviewed research? or publishers' current revenue streams?
And who is to determine the terms and timetable for the transition to OA? The research community? or whatever (and however long) it takes to sustain publishers' current revenue streams?
Finch seems to have accepted wholesale that publishers are justified in embargoing Green OA in order to sustain their current subscription revenues -- and that the UK (double-) paying publishers' asking-price for Gold OA (as determined by whatever it takes to sustain their current revenue levels) is the fastest and fairest way to make a transition to 100% OA. But what is in reality being sustained here is publishers' current revenue levels, not peer-reviewed research itself. And publisher embargoes on Green OA are being used to hold back the "transition" timetable for as long as it takes till publishers' terms are met:
"...a transition to open access (OA) over an extended period that would be characterised by a mixed economy".To illustrate how fully Finch has identified itself with publishers' interests and their attempts to hold OA hostage to publishers embargoes and agenda:
"We cannot agree… with those who urge policies based solely on Green OA with short or zero embargoes, a position which derives from an exclusive preference for Green OA, rather than a mixed economy. There is a balance to be struck between embargo lengths that provide speedy access on the one hand, and sustainability for subscription-based journals and the business models that underpin them on the other."Finch II has internalized without reflection -- as if it were a law of nature, rather than merely a publisher-imposed, self-fulfilling prophecy -- the canard that Gold OA means immediate OA and Green OA means delayed OA (delayed because publishers embargo it!): The two options are accordingly defined by Finch II as:
"immediate free access to publications with the costs met by [Gold OA fees], often referred to as Gold OA…In point of fact, over 60% of subscription journals do not embargo Green OA (though Finch certainly seems to be doing its level best to give them the incentive to do so!).
Finch II has also re-affirmed its support for negotiating a Really Big Deal -- an extended national license scheme to "sustain" subscription access during the "mixed economy" transition. Translation: Publishers are to be granted their fondest wish of being paid a still bigger UK national license fee for all incoming subscription content, over and above the Finch funds to be paid them for (Fool's) Gold OA. The UK here will be collaborating in the fulfillment of publishers' "self-sustaining" strategy (see Appendix)...
Finch II also proposes to
"monitor the impact of OA policies on learned societies... [because they] start from different positions in engaging with the transition to OA."The only relevant question is whether Learned Society publishers are any more justified than commercial publishers in embargoing access to Learned Research in order to "sustain" their current revenue streams. Apart from that, post-Green Fair-Gold publishing will be as open to Learned Society publishers as to commercial publishers, if and when globally mandated Green makes subscriptions unsustainable. In place of whatever Learned Society publishing revenues were supporting "good works" such as meetings and scholarships, these good works can go on to fund themselves (via membership dues and registration fees) instead of being subsidized by lost Learned Research impact.
Finch II closes with:
"Our key recommendation is… to develop an interoperable system of repositories and an infrastructure that supports both Gold and Green OA."We can all applaud that, thanks to HEFCE/REF. The requisite infrastructure will be the interoperable system of Green OA repositories, with immediate-deposit mandated for all refereed research output, Gold and Green, with or without embargoes, and with or without CC-BY.
Publishers to Researchers:
"Want Open Access? Only On Our Terms - and Our Timetable!"
Publisher "Self-Sustaining" Strategy
(1) Do whatever it takes to sustain or increase current revenue streams.There is, however, a compeletely effective prophylactic against this publisher strategy (but it has to be adopted by the research community, because British and Dutch Ministers are apparently too susceptible to the siren call of the publishing lobby):
(a) Research funders and institutions worldwide all adopt an immediate-deposit mandate, requiring, as a condition of funding, employment and evaluation, that all researchers deposit their final, peer-reviewed drafts in their institutional repositories immediately upon acceptance for publication, regardless of whether they are published in a subscription journal or a Gold OA journal -- and regardless of whether access to the deposit is made Green OA immediately or only after a publisher embargo.
Saturday, November 16. 2013
The UK and the Netherlands -- not coincidentally, the home bases of Big Publishing for refereed research -- have issued coordinated statements in support of what cannot be described other than as a publishers' nocturnal fantasy, in the face of the unstoppable worldwide clamour for Open Access.
Here are the components of the publishers' fantasy:
(1) Do whatever it takes to sustain or increase your current revenue streams.There is, however, a compeletely effective prophylactic against this publisher fantasy (but it has to be adopted by the research community, because British and Dutch Ministers are apparently too susceptible to the siren call of the publishing lobby):
Now please read how fully the Dutch government fell for the publishing lobby's nocturnal fantasy. (Tomorrow you will see the same from the UK.)(a) Research funders and institutions worldwide all adopt an immediate-deposit mandate, requiring, as a condition of funding, employment and evaluation, that all researchers deposit their final, peer-reviewed drafts in their institutional repositories immediately upon acceptance for publication, regardless of whether they are published in a subscription journal or a Gold OA journal -- and regardless of whether access to the deposit is made Green OA immediately or only after a publisher embargo.
Here is a quick google translation of excerpts from Sander Dekker, Secretary of Education, Culture and Science, Netherlands on "Commitment to further developments in open access scientific publication"
Sander Dekker, Secretary of Education, Culture and Science, Netherlands:
(Page 1 of 103, totaling 1025 entries) » next page
Syndicate This Blog
Materials You Are Invited To Use To Promote OA Self-Archiving:
The American Scientist Open Access Forum has been chronicling and often directing the course of progress in providing Open Access to Universities' Peer-Reviewed Research Articles since its inception in the US in 1998 by the American Scientist, published by the Sigma Xi Society.
The Forum is largely for policy-makers at universities, research institutions and research funding agencies worldwide who are interested in institutional Open Acess Provision policy. (It is not a general discussion group for serials, pricing or publishing issues: it is specifically focussed on institutional Open Acess policy.)
You can sign on to the Forum here.