Monday, March 13. 2006
[Update: See new definition of "Gratis" and "Libre" OA, 27/8/2008]
Note to Peter Suber and the original formulators of the Budapest Open Access Initiative (Re-posted from AmSci Forum 13 March 2005 [last year]).
I would like to suggest that this is the right time, in light of recent developments, to update the BOAI definition of OA to make explicit what was already implicit in it: That OA must be now and must be permanent (not, for example, a feature that is provided for an instant, a century from now).
I think this was always perfectly obvious to anyone who read the BOAI definition of OA, but, as people will do, those with a vested interest in doing so found a loophole in the wording as it now stands. This is easily remediable by adding and announcing the obvious "immediate" (upon acceptance for publication) and "permanent" that should have been stated explicitly in the first place.
I think we overlooked this partly because we could not second-guess all conceivable self-serving construals by opponents of OA, but partly because we were trying to be as encouraging as possible about partial measures. Yet we were very careful, and should now be even moreso, not to allow the notion of "partial-OA" -- which is on a direct slippery-slope in which TA (toll-access) too would become construable as just another form of partial-OA!
Delayed free-access and temporary free-access are forms of access, to be sure -- and some is generally better than none, more is generally better than less -- but OA itself is only complete free access, immediate and permanent, for everyone and anyone, anytime, anywhere webwide. Otherwise all access would be OA, and the rest would just be a matter of degree (or, in the words of the wag, we would have agreed on our profession and we would now be merely haggling about the price!)
The BOAI definition was not etched in stone. 3+ years of experience have now suggested ways in which it can be clarified and optimized. This is a good time to make explicit what was already implicit in it, which is: OA is a trait of an article, not an evanescent state. Just as an article is OA if it is freely accessible online, an article is not OA if it is not freely accessible online, and hence an article that is not immediately accessible freely online is not OA and an article that is no longer freely accessible online is not OA (and never was -- within the limits of inductive uncertainty and the impossibility of clairvoyance, i.e., if the obsolescence was planned).
Being accessible might be a transitory state, but being OA has to be an all-or-none trait. Researchers don't need access to research eventually, or temporarily or sometimes or somewhere: All researchers need OA to all research, immediately, permanently, at all times, and everywhere (webwide). I suggest that we announce the following update to the passage that starts:
"By "open access" to this literature, we mean its free availability on the public internet, permitting..."to:
"By "open access" to this literature, we mean its free availability on the public internet, immediately and permanantly, permitting..."Those with an interest in blocking or minimzing non-toll-based access will of course scream that BOAI is "moving the goalposts!" but I think anyone who thinks clearly and honestly about the interests of the research community and of research itself, and what was the fundamental rationale and motivation for OA in the first place, will see that this is merely highlighting what the goal has been all along, not moving it.
Date: Sun, 13 Mar 2005 03:30:27 +0000 (GMT)
From: Stevan Harnad
To: Richard Poynder
Subjectt: Poynder's Blog-Point
One thing you missed: The "immediate" and "permanent" are and always were implicit in the BOAI definition of OA: An article is OA if and when it is freely accessible online. Obviously when it is not, it is not OA, so that excludes any embargo period, or any temporary "hook" period, withdrawn afterward!
The goal of OA is to make all articles OA: Not all articles OA after a while, or for a while. The answer to the question "Is this article OA?" has to be "yes", not "no". If an article can be OA some of the time, and not OA other times, then you may as well say an article can be OA to some people and not to other people (which is exactly what toll-access is: OA to those who can pay, non-OA to those who cannot).
Immediacy and permanence is as intrinsic to the fundamental rationale for OA as the full-text's being on-line and toll-free is. Researchers don't want to keep losing 6-12 months of research impact and progress, and call that Open Access.
Back Access is a cynical sop, any way you look at it, and a deplorable attempt to misuse both the principle of OA and the rationale underlying it.
I hope the Immediate Institutional Keystroke Policy as a default bottom line will put an end to any further inclination to try to use the Back-Access Ploy, for it immunizes institutions completely from any pressure for an embargo (the N-1 keystroles to deposit the metadata and full text are required, for internal purposes; the Nth OA keystroke is strongly encouraged but up to the author), leaving the dominoes to fall naturally (and anarchically) of their own accord. Sensible institutions won't even bother formalizing the Nth keystroke as optional, but will deal with it, if need be, on a case by case basis.
The Wellcome Trust will have the eternal historical distinction of having been the first research funder to actually mandate Open Access (OA) self-archiving (May 2005): NIH Public Access Policy alas did not help advance OA, but rather missed an opportunity and inadvertently held things back for at least 2 years. But the hope now is that -- inspired in part by the far better model provided by the Wellcome Trust policy -- the NIH policy will be revised, becoming a self-archiving requirement instead of just a self-archiving request, no longer allowing a delay of up to 12 (or even 6) months.
It does not follow, however, that the current Wellcome Trust policy is unflawed, or that it provides the optimal model for others to follow. It was a great help at its historic time, as a counterweight to the far more flawed NIH policy, but at this historic point, the Wellcome Trust policy too risks becoming a retardant instead of a facilitator of OA, if it is imitated by others in its flaws instead of its strengths.
The strength of the Wellcome Policy is that (1) it is an exception-free requirement, not an optional request, and that (2) it does not allow a delay of longer than 6 months.
Its flaw is that (a) it allows any delay at all and that (b) it requires self-archiving in a central, 3rd-party repository (PubMed Central; PMC) instead of the author's own institutional OA Institutional Repository (IR) (from which PMC could then harvest if/when it wishes).
The two flaws are linked. For the simple and natural way to rule out delays is to require immediate deposit of the accepted, final draft in the author's own institutional OA IR (immediately upon acceptance for publication), but merely request/encourage that access to the deposited draft should be immediately set to "Open Access." That leaves the author the option to provisionally set access instead as "Restricted Access" if need be (for up to 6 months).
How is this linked to the requirement to deposit in PMC instead of at home? Because PMC is neither the author nor the author's institution. It is not even the Wellcome Trust. It is a generic, 3rd-party repository, which publishers can (perhaps rightly) construe as a rival 3rd-party publisher. Publishers are certainly within their rights to block or embargo rival 3rd-party publishing. (Whether it makes any sense to try to treat a 3rd-party OA repository as a rival publisher in the OAI-interoperable age is another matter!)
But the author and the author's own institution certainly cannot be construed as a rival 3rd-party publisher: They are the party of the first part, the content-provider, and the publisher is only the party of the second part: the value-adder and vendor.
And that is why far more journals have given their green light to author self-archiving in their own respective institutional OA IRs, than to self-archiving in a central 3rd-party repository like PMC. And that is also why PMC-archiving is more vulnerable to a publisher embargo.
But there is an ultra-simple way to require immediate deposit while accommodating any publisher embargo at the same time: Require immediate deposit in the author's own OA IR -- immediately upon acceptance for publication -- and harvest the full-text into PMC after 6 months!
That way the deposit is, without exception, immediate, and for about 93% of articles, access too will be immediately OA. (Those articles, too, can be immediately harvested into PMC.) For the c. 7% of articles set to Restricted Access, the metadata will be immediately visible anyway, and emailed eprint-requests (facilitated and automatized with the help of the IR software) can fulfil the access-needs of would-be users who cannot afford access to the proprietary journal version during the embargo period.
Why not implement the deposit/access-setting distinction, but in PMC rather than in the author's own IR? Because it fails to generalise to all the rest of OA research output (in all fields of research, not just biomedical). The Wellcome Trust funds some of the world's biomedical research; NIH funds more; but there are vasts amounts of further research -- in biology, medicine, physical sciences, engineering, social sciences and even the humanities -- that would all fail to benefit from a parochial PMC mandate for biomedical research. If, instead, funders like Wellcome and NIH mandated that their fundees self-archive in their own institutional OA IRs, that would effectively "tile" all of OA space, effectively and completely, as universities cover all fields of research output. (Central OA repositories like PMC and others would still be available for any orphan works from unaffiliated researchers.)
In other words, funders are not helping world OA if they keep thinking of it as a go-it-alone operation. Funders only fund bits; central OA repositories don't exist for all disciplines and fields; and even if they did, they -- unlike the researchers' institutions -- do not have the clout to reinforce scattered funder mandates with institutional self-archiving mandates, to ensure that all their institutional research output is indeed self-archived.
So the simple and sensible way to update and optimise the pioneering Wellcome Trust self-archiving mandate would be to (1) require the self-archiving to be done in the fundee's own institutional OA IR (as the UK Select Committee proposed), (2) require it to be done immediately upon acceptance for publication, (3) encourage immediate access-setting to OA, (4) require access-setting at OA by 6 months at the latest, and (5) harvest the metadata into PMC immediately upon deposit -- and the full-text into PMC (if need be -- there's a case to be made for just linking to the IR version) within 6 months at the latest.
Why is Wellcome Trust not making this simple and obvious update without even any need for prompting? I think it is because there are again green and gold wires crossed: Over and above its mission to ensure that all Wellcome-funded research (and, hopeably, all research) is made OA, the Wellcome Trust has the further worthy goal of encouraging a transition to the OA (gold) publishing model. This is all fine, but not if the slow, uncertain transition to gold OA is supported at the expense of a speedy, certain transition to 100% OA itself (green).
And that is what I think is happening: Wellcome is not doing everything it could to hasten OA itself, because it is not committed only to OA, but to publishing reform too.
My own view is that publishing reform will take care of itself, and that the urgent task is to get to 100% OA as soon as possible. (Indeed, that itself will probably prove the most important stimulant to publishing reform.) But to slow the immediately feasible and certain transition to OA in the service of far slower and less certain -- and more hypothetical -- measures to induce publishing reform, is not, I think, to help OA along the road to the optimal and inevitable (and already overdue) outcome.
On Mon, 13 Mar 2006, Robert Kiley (Wellcome Trust) [RK] wrote in the American Scientist Open Access Forum:
RK: "Please note the Wellcome Trust currently does NOT have any plans to reduce the 6 month time limit on its grant condition. The grant condition requires published research (original research papers in peer reviewed journals) arising in part or whole from Trust funding to be placed in Pubmed Central (or UK PMC when it exists) no later than 6 months after the date of publication."No need to reduce the 6 months if Wellcome does not wish to. Just mandate immediate deposit (in the fundee's own OA IR) and let delayed access-setting bear the burden of the delay. Meanwhile, everyone gets into the habit of self-archiving at home, and emailing eprints can bridge the gap, universally and uniformly.
RK: "It is obvious that a potential delay of up to 6 months is not ideal in terms of the timing of access, but it is a realistic response to the very real concerns of publishers, large and small, that self archiving is a threat to their business model. Whether this is eventually shown to be the case is immaterial as it is this perception that we need to deal with."Fine. As noted: Mandate immediate deposit and allow the option of delayed access-setting.
RK: " As the only funding organisation with a mandate in its grant condition to support open access through open access publishing and archiving in PMC we are very well aware how many journals are currently at odds with this policy."Note the conflation of open access provision (through self-archiving, green) with open access publishing (gold)...
RK: "That is why, in conjunction with JISC, we are funding an extension of the Sherpa/Romeo project to identify, at the journal level, which journals will allow a copy of the published paper to be deposited into PMC/UKPMC so it is available no later than 6 months after the original publication date."It is always good to extend Sherpa/Romeo's coverage, but Romeo already lists embargoes, if any. So surely what Romeo needs is more coverage of journal self-archiving policies, not a focus on 6-month embargoes!
RK: "In order to encourage experiments in alternative business models to the subscription model the Trust also explicitly supports open access publishing as part of the research funding process."
So far, so good. Funding authors' OA (gold) publishing charges is very constructive and helpful. But now this:
RK: " That is why we provided some assistance to OUP, Blackwell's and Springer in drafting the author licence for their various open access offerings so that they were explicitly compliant with publishing and depositing in an archive such as PMC."This sort of thing simply encourages the locking in of a 6-month embargo instead of helping to phase it out!
If the Wellcome Trust instead simply mandated immediate deposit and let access-setting bear the weight of any embargoes, it would not need to get into the business of entrenching and canonizing embargoes instead of letting them die a quiet death of natural causes!
RK: " We see open access repositories and open access publishing as complimentary exercises and to us, and the publishers we talk to, there is a direct link between the impact of self archiving and the publishing process so it is a pragmatic response to deal with both issues in parallel."What is complementary today is: (1) non-OA publishing, (2) OA publishing, and (3) OA repositories for the author self-archiving of both (1) and (2).
Self-archiving is not a form of OA publishing, and the immediate and reachable goal -- the one that justifies OA in the first place, namely, access to 100% of published research articles -- is a transition to 100% OA, not necessarily a transition to OA publishing.
RK: " In time the most likely scenario, and one the Trust is supporting, is that open access publishing, or another model yet to be invented, will become the norm and publishers will be able to operate without a reliance on subscriptions. As such the 6 month embargo period will be kept under review but at the moment the Trust has no plans to change it."That's fine. Let the allowable 6-month delay stand, but let it be a delay in access-setting, not deposit. And let the immediate deposit be in the fundee's own institutional IR, with PMC harvesting it after the allowable delay -- rather than delaying the deposit itself, and insisting it be in PMC!
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Universities and research funders are both invited to use this document to help encourage the adoption of an Open Access Self-Archiving Mandate at their institution. Note that this recommended "Immediate-Deposit & Optional-Access" (IDOA) policy model (also called the "Dual Deposit/Release Strategy") has been specifically formulated to be immune from any delays or embargoes (based on publisher policy or copyright restrictions): The deposit -- of the author's final, peer-reviewed draft of all journal articles, in the author's own Institutional Repository (IR) -- is required immediately upon acceptance for publication, with no delays or exceptions. But whether access to that deposit is immediately set to Open Access or provisionally set to Closed Access (with only the metadata, but not the full-text, accessible webwide) is left up to the author, with only a strong recommendation to set access as Open Access as soon as possible (immediately wherever possible, and otherwise preferably with a maximal embargo cap at 6 months).
1. Research Accessibility
1.1 There exist 24,000 peer-reviewed journals (and conference proceedings) publishing 2.5 million articles per year, across all disciplines, languages and nations.2. Research Impact: Usage and Citations
2.1 This is confirmed by recent findings, independently replicated by many investigators, showing that articles for which their authors have supplemented subscription-based access to the publisher’s version by self-archiving their own final drafts free for all on the web are downloaded and cited twice as much across all 12 scientific, biological, social science and humanities disciplines analysed so far. (Note: there are no discipline differences in benefits of self-archiving, only in awareness.)3. University Self-Archiving Mandates Maximise Research Impact
3.1 Only 15% of the 2.5 million articles published annually are being spontaneously self-archived worldwide today..4. Action: This university should now mandate self-archiving university-wide
4.1 This university should now maximise its own research impact and set an example for the rest of the world by adopting a self-archiving mandate university-wide.5. The Importance of Prompt Action
5.1 Self-archiving is effortless, taking only a few minutes and a few keystrokes; library help is available too (but hardly necessary).
Southampton University Resources for Supporting Open Access Worldwide
A1 U. Southampton ECS department was the first department or institution in the world to adopt a self-archiving mandate (2001).
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