Sunday, July 30. 2006
In "More misinformation on repositories from ALPSP" Steve Hitchcock wrote:
['Romeo Green' publisher] policies [endorsing author self-archiving] have benefitted both publishers and repositories. [They] would not have been voluntarily adopted by publishers otherwise.'Not quite: Many of the 94% of journals that are Romeo green (e.g., the APS and IOPP journals) became green because of Open Access (OA) self-archiving's demonstrated benefits to research, researchers and the public that funds them (doubled research usage and impact), not because self-archiving also enhances journal visibility and impact factors, hence might benefit journal sales or submissions. Let us not forget that although the PLoS petition, which threatened to boycott journals that did not provide OA, failed (because publishers were understandably unwilling to convert to an untested publishing model), the will of its 34,000 signatories was nevertheless noted, and green self-archiving policies were partly the result.
The will of the research community is still being (understandably) monitored by the publishing community. It is being noted that only about 15% of researchers self-archive spontaneously, despite its demonstrated benefits. Research funders and institutions are now proposing to mandate self-archiving (just as they already mandate publishing itself), in order to maximize the benefits to researchers, their institutions, and the funding public. Publishers are trying to oppose those mandates, but again, there is ultimately no choice but to adapt to the will and interests of the research community (which includes researchers' employers and funders).
The problem is that publishers are also trying (rather ineptly) to manipulate that will, by misrepresenting the research community's interests, and that effort is bound to backfire sooner or later, to publishers' historic discredit. It is not only natural for the research community to 'put the interests of [its own] institution[s] and local community' first' but it is also in the interests of research productivity and progress, and the tax-paying public that funds them. Publishers would accordingly be far better advised to allow nature to take its course, toward the optimal and inevitable outcome for research, researchers and the public, and to prepare to adapt to it, rather than just trying to delay and waylay it. There is absolutely no doubt about which way any conflict of interest here (between the research community and the public on the one hand, and the publishing community on the other) will need to be resolved.
Best not to argue with the optimal and inevitable...
"Evolving APS Copyright Policy (American Physical Society)"Stevan Harnad
American Scientist Open Access Forum
Saturday, July 29. 2006
Long-standing members of the American Scientist Open Access Forum will recognize some exceedingly familiar themes voiced (at long last) in the following excerpts from the very welcome and helpful 2006 Open Letter by 25 US University Provosts in support of the Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA). But having now expressed their support for the federal self-archiving mandate, there is absolutely no need for the provosts to wait for the Act's adoption to act! This would be an excellent time for each to put their support into practice by adopting an institutional self-archiving mandate of their own, at their own institution (and registering it in ROARMAP for other institutions to emulate).
Some Pertinent Prior AmSci Topic Threads:
"Chron. High. Ed. 18 September on Cal Tech & Copyright" (Sep 1998)
"Scholars' Forum: A New Model For Scholarly Communication" (Mar 1999)
"The Need To Re-Activate the Provosts' Initiative" (Feb 2001)
"Written evidence for UK Select Committee's Inquiry into Scientific Publications" (Dec 2003)
"What Provosts Need to Mandate" (Dec 2003)
"A Simple Way to Optimize the NIH Public Access Policy" (Oct 2004)
"Please Don't Copy-Cat Clone NIH-12 Non-OA Policy!" (Jan 2005)
"Maximising the Return on UK's Public Investment in Research" (Sep 2005)
"Generic Rationale and Model for University Open Access Self-Archiving Mandate" (Mar 2006)
"How to Counter All Opposition to the FRPAA Self-Archiving Mandate" (Sep 2006)
American Scientist Open Access Foru
On Fri, 28 Jul 2006, in response to my posting -- to the effect that "EPrints is free [and] the world's first, most widely used" [software for creating Open Access Institutional Repositories] -- Jean-Yves Le Meur commented in the American Scientist Open Access Forum:
J-YLM: "This is indeed true in terms of number of installations [but] in terms of number of documents in repositories, CDS Invenio distributed by CERN [formerly CDSware] easily comes first... "Jean-Yves is absolutely right that CERN's CDS Invenio (formerly CDSware) comes first among the top dozen digital archiving software installations in terms of average number of documents (28,327):
SOURCE: Registry of Open Access Repositories (ROAR)I would go even further, and point out that CERN's own IR, with 78,774 items, is 11th biggest among all 721 archives registered in ROAR and 3rd biggest among the c. 450 of the archives that are institutional repositories IRs (rather than central repositories, which draw from the contents of many institutions), after #1 Wageningen University (110,269) and #2 Nagoya University (82,625).
Moreover, among IRs, CERN's own IR, with its 78,774 items, mostly full-text, is indeed easily and by far the first (biggest and most successful). (Wageningen's admirable IR has 110,269 items but only about half of them are full-text documents, and the nature and percent full-text of Nagoya's imposing IR, with 82,625, still needs to be ascertained: a posting from Nagoya would be most welcome!).
I will go still further: CERN leads the world in Open Access IR "Best Practice" Policy, being the institution with the most comprehensive, systematic and successful institutional self-archiving mandate (and one of only 6 institutions worldwide that have a self-archiving mandate at all!).
The only problem is that CERN is not promoting the adoption of its superb institutional self-archiving policy along with its promotion of its CDS software!
CERN is instead too busy trying to reform publishing (so as to hasten a transition to Open Access Publishing), having already successfully reformed its own researchers' self-archiving practices.
But "Best Practice" insofar as OA (which is not the same thing as OA Publishing) is concerned may well begin at home, but it must not 'end at home!
I would be more than happy to endorse CDS Invenio as OA IR Best Practice, alongside GNU EPrints -- if and when CERN promotes the adoption of its own institutional self-archiving policy model along with its CDS software.
Otherwise CDS Invenio is, and will continue to be, just another of the softwares that (in its own words) "covers all aspects of digital library management."
For OA IR "Best Practice" is not "to cover all aspects of digital library management": it is to focus specifically on the urgent OA priority: ensuring that 100% of institutional research output is systematically and successfully self-archived in the OA IR as soon as possible, just as CERN's is. The outcome is already long overdue. CERN has already attained it. It is time for CERN to help the rest of the world to attain it too, by promoting its own institutional Best Practice along with its (excellent) software!
Meanwhile, that is precisely what GNU EPrints is doing, and has been doing all along: promoting not the practice of "digital library management" but the practice of OA self-archiving.
Prior American Scientist Open Access Forum Topic Threads:Stevan Harnad
American Scientist Open Access Forum
In case there is even the slightest of doubts about which software I recommend as "World's Best Practice" for creating and maintaining an Open Access Institutional Repository (OA IR), it is, of course, GNU EPrints.
EPrints is free: the world's first, most widely used, and by far the most functional of all the available OA IR softwares. It is created for and specifically focussed on OA functionality, with the most advanced features being designed and added continuously by the award-winning EPrints developmental team as it keeps up with (and indeed often leads) the accelerating development and evolving needs of the worldwide OA movement.
Enough said. See the testimonials (and add your own!), find out exactly what the focus is on and for, and then, assuming you already have an EPrints (or other) OA IR, you can go back to lobbying for OA self-archiving mandates for your institution and research funder (the current number-one priority!):
"Generic Rationale and Model for University Open Access Self-Archiving Mandate"But don't forget to register your IR in ROAR (Registry of Open Access Repositories) and to register your institution's OA IR policy in ROARMAP.
Your arch archivangelist,
American Scientist Open Access Forum
P.S. Ceterum Censeo: All OA texts and their metadata should be directly deposited locally, in the author's own OA IR. Each researcher's own institution is the primary content-provider. If it is desired to also include them in one or more central repositories such as PubMed Central or Arxiv, eprints can and should be harvested from the local OA IR. EPrints is implementing automatizable import/export features for doing just that: Exporting to central repositories, as well as importing from them (e.g., papers already deposited centrally prior to the creation of the local IR).
Friday, July 28. 2006
There has been dramatic progress in the adoption of Open Access Self-Archiving Mandates lately.
ROARMAP (Registry of Open Access Repository Material Archiving Policies) and
ROAR (Registry of Open Access Repositories) now list:
497 institutional repositories registered to dateIf your university or research institutions or research funding agency has an Open Access Self-Archiving policy, please register it in ROARMAP: and register your institutional repository (IR) in ROAR.
You can track the growth of the number and nature of OA policies in ROARMAP and the growth in the number and size of IRs in ROAR.
Mandate: Queensland U Tech growth Policy
Mandate: CERN growth Policy
CNRS growth Policy
INRA growth Policy
INRIA growth Policy
Inst Jean Nicod growth Policy
Inst fr rech mer growth Policy
U Lumiere Lyon 2 growth Policy
Bielefeld U growth Policy
Humboldt U growth Policy
In Sc Net Oldenburg growth Policy
Potsdam U growth Policy
U Bremen growth Policy
U Hamburg growth Policy
Mandate: Nat Inst Tech growth Policy
U Oslo growth Policy
Mandate: U Minho growth Policy
Lund U growth Policy
Mandate: U Zurich Policy
Funder Mandate: BBSRC Policy
Funder Mandate: ESRC Policy
Funder Mandate: MRC growth Policy
Funder Mandate: Wellcome Trust growth Policy
Mandate: U Southampton ECS growth Policy
U Southampton growth Policy
CCLRC growth Policy
Case Western growth Policy
U Kansas growth Policy
NIH growth Policy
Friday, July 21. 2006
The following poem, "Publish or Perish," has won the (English-language category) prize in the Euroscience Open Forum (ESOF2006) Poetry Competition, sponsored by the Andrea von Braun Stiftung. The award of 300 euros has been donated by the author to the Alliance for Tax-Payer Access in support of their efforts to promote the adoption of the Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA) in the US: With UK OA now well on its way, let Euroscience and euros now reach across the Atlantic to help spread OA to the entire planet: 'Self-Archive Unto Other As You Would Have Them Self-Archive Unto You'.
Publish or PerishAs Science is mere structured common sense,
Friday, July 14. 2006
Jan Velterop [JV] (Springer Open Choice), wrote, in "Open access, quo vadis?":
JV: "Now that alternatives for the term 'self-archiving' are being suggested -- presumably in an attempt to increase the number of self-archivers --"Actually, alternative terms are not needed, and will not be adopted, and the reason alternatives were even being mentioned was because of the distracting and irrelevant associations with preservation-archiving of originals, rather than access-archiving of supplementary copies (authors' final refereed drafts) of journal articles.
JV: "it may be time to face up to some uncomfortable truths. Let's be honest, open access is just not all that attractive to individual researchers when they publish their articles."If that were indeed true, it would of course be just as uncomfortable a truth for Open Access journals as for Open Access self-archiving. But I think it is very far from being true! (Isn't OA what 34,000 researchers, for example, signed the PLoS Open Letter to demand in 2001?)
Jan is conflating two separate things here, both of which researchers indeed do find unattractive, but neither of which is Open Access (OA) itself: (1) paying OA journal publication charges and (2) doing the keystrokes to OA self-archive.
In reality, researchers find it no more nor less attractive to provide OA to their publications than they find it attractive to publish at all: For let us not forget that without "publish or perish" mandates, Springer's journals would be a lot thinner in content!
Fortunately, the publish-or-perish mandate can be naturally extended, in the online age, to "publish and self-archive" -- in order to maximize each article's usage and citation impact. Both publications and citations are already being counted and rewarded by researchers' employers and funders today, and the two JISC author surveys by Swan & Brown (plus several subsequent replications as well as concrete implementations) have confirmed that about 95% of authors will comply with self-archiving mandates (81% of them willingly, only 14% of them reluctantly).
Nor (as the surveys likewise show) is it the case that OA is not attractive to researchers (and Jan too had better hope that's not the case!). It is the case that many researchers still don't know about OA, and that many of those who do know still think OA means they would have to publish in journals other than their currently preferred ones.Swan, A. (2005) Open access self-archiving: An Introduction. JISC Technical Report.
Researchers are mistaken, of course, on both counts. Researchers' first mistake is unawareness that with journals that offer Open Choice there is no need for them to switch journals: they are given the option to pay their chosen journal to provide OA for their article. Researchers' second mistake is that there is no need for them (or their institutions or their funders) to pay for Open Choice either, because authors can self-archive their own published articles.
It may be the combination of these truths that causes Jan's heartache:
JV: "I say that with pain in my heart, but we have, as proponents of open access, singularly failed to get enough support among researchers. Not for want of trying. The proposition is simply not strong enough."Yes, telling researchers about OA and its benefits -- whether gold OA publishing or green OA self-archiving -- is not enough to induce more than about 5% - 25% of researchers to go ahead and provide OA, either way. That's why OA mandates from their institutions and funders are needed to induce researchers to do it, for their own (and the public) good, just as mandates were needed to induce them to publish at all, for their own (and the public) good.
But only OA self-archiving can be mandated: OA publishing cannot be mandated (1) until enough publishers offer at least the Open Choice option and (far more important) (2) until the cash that is currently tied up in paying for institutional journal subscriptions is freed so it can be "re-routed" to pay for institutional OA publishing costs.
So instead of feeling a pain in his heart, Jan should be vigorously supporting OA self-archiving mandates because (a) they are sure to provide immediate (at least 95%) OA and (b) if they ever do cause substantial subscription cancellations, they will free up the cash to be re-routed to pay for OA publishing.
JV: "That doesn't, of course, make open access any less desirable. But researchers, as we all, do live in an ego-system and the strength of a person's interest in anything seems to diminish with at least the square of the distance (metaphorical or otherwise) to his or her id."How far are citation-counts from a researcher's ego or id?
But it is not ego that's keeping researchers from performing the few extra keystrokes it takes per article (over and above the keystrokes to write it) to self-archive it: it's ergo and igno: ergonomic inertia together with ignorance about how few keystrokes and how little time are actually involved in self-archiving:
Researchers who have never self-archived imagine that it takes a lot of time and trouble. In reality it does not. The self-archiving mandates will see to it that researchers discover for themselves how little effort it entails, for such a substantial benefit (to themselves).Carr, L. and Harnad, S. (2005) Keystroke Economy: A Study of the Time and Effort Involved in Self-Archiving.
JV: "The benefits of open access 'to science' are apparently pretty distant to an average researcher."But his own citation impact is not.
JV: "Now, I know that the case has been made that there are benefits at closer proximity to researchers' ids, such as increased citations to their articles, but they seem, grosso modo, wholly underwhelmed by those."(1) More underinformed than underwhelmed (but time is remedying that).
(2) Information about personal benefits alone, however, is not enough to induce researchers to provide OA, any more than information about the personal benefits of publishing alone is enough to induce them to publish. The carrot/stick of "publish or perish" was needed for the one, and its natural online-age extension to OA self-archiving is now needed for the other.
(3) On the other hand, researchers' institutions and funders seem to be less "underwhelmed" about the benefits of OA self-archiving than the researchers themselves, for they (RCUK, FRPAA, NIH, CURES, EC, CERN, and several individual universities) are evidently inclined to mandate it
(4) Who is opposing the mandates? Not researchers: publishers.
(5) Where does Jan (with all the pain in his heart) stand on self-archiving mandates?
JV: "So what now? Mandates, it appears. From the funders -- organisations in charge of the scholarly super-ego, as it were. They have the power to impose OA on their grantees, and maybe the duty. And as they mostly pay the bill for library subscriptions anyway (indirectly, via overhead charges of institutions, but they pay nonetheless), they could simply re-route that money to OA article processing charges and reform publishing in the process. They may still, and follow the excellent leadership of the Wellcome Trust in this regard."But dear Jan, the message does not seem to be sinking in: It is not OA publishing that funders are proposing to mandate, it is OA self-archiving. And there is no money (nor need) to "re-route" while it is all tied up in paying the bills for publication via subscriptions!
JV: "There seems to be one thing standing in the way. Conflation of financial concerns with open access is, unfortunately, a major barrier to open access."Whose financial concerns? Whose conflation? Research funders and institutions are proposing to mandate OA self-archiving, and publishers are opposing it, claiming it puts their finances at risk. So what, exactly, is the "major barrier" to OA at this moment?
JV: "If open access were a real priority, in other words, if the starting point would not so much be cost evasion, but the principle that for the amounts now spent on scholarly literature one could, and should, have open access, and if a widespread willingness were displayed on the part of funders and librarians to help flip the model, then I'm thoroughly convinced we would be much, much further with open access.""Cost evasion"? When, as you say, correctly, "the amounts now spent on scholarly literature" are tied up in subscriptions? Isn't it closer to reality to say that this is, if anything, "re-routing evasion," since the costs are all being paid?
Let me translate what you are saying, Jan: If all publishers converted to Open Choice, and if all institutions cancelled all their subscriptions, then there would be plenty of cash to pay for taking the paid-OA option. But this is evidently not happening, and it cannot be mandated. "Re-routing" cannot be mandated.
Self-archiving, however, can be mandated. And perhaps it will eventually lead to the same outcome ("re-routing"). But before that it will certainly lead to the OA that is already long overdue.
It is not a matter of springing still more cash, in advance, to pay for OA, at a time when journals are already making ends meet via subscriptions. The available cash is all tied up; moreover, there's no need for further cash: There's need for further OA. And that's what OA self-archiving mandates will deliver, now.
Moreover, re-routing is not the goal of OA or the OA movement: OA is!
JV: "And as for financial concerns, inherent in an author-side payment model is a much clearer scope for real competition, and that will put downward pressure on prices and upward pressure on efficiencies as any economist will tell us. Putting the horse before the cart might be a good idea, for a change."Fine, but first we would have to get from here to there. And there -- i.e., OA publishing -- is not the pressing goal: OA is. And that is what OA self-archiving mandates will provide. The horse is OA, which can be mandated through self-archiving mandates. The cart (publishing reform) is hypothetical, but if the cart ever does get re-routed in that direction, surely it will be driven by the horse (the self-archiving mandate) not by a re-routing mandate!
JV: "There is of course the hypothesis, consistently put forward by Stevan Harnad (and Stevan is nothing if not consistent, you have to give him that), that we can have OA without reforming publishing and without damaging journals."Jan, you are (knowingly or unknowingly) misrepresenting what I have been saying all along, despite the frequency (and consistency) with which I have been pointing out this published set of conditional probabilities, over and over, for years and years now:
What I have been consistently saying is that we can have immediate (and long-overdue) OA (e.g., by mandating self-archiving), right now, without having to first reform publishing. What subsequent effect that will in turn have on publishing is an empirical question, to which no one has a sure answer, so all we can do is speculate (see above link). I personally think 100% OA self-archiving will eventually lead to subscription cancellations and a transition (your "flip") to OA publishing.
So what is your point, Jan?
JV: "Consistent, but unfortunately, that doesn't make it right. In his world of self-archiving, all peer-reviewed and formally published articles would be freely available with open access -- although perhaps in an informal version, but still -- and librarians would continue to pay for subscriptions to keep journals afloat."That is again an incorrect statement of my view. What I have said is:
(1) All evidence to date indicates that mandated self-archiving will generate 100% OA (1a) and will increase research usage and impact (1b).
(2) There is no evidence to date that it will decrease subscriptions, but it may or may not eventually do that.
(3) If mandated self-archiving ever does decrease subscriptions sufficiently to make it impossible to make ends meet via institutional subscriptions, it will then also have increased the institutional subscription cancellation savings that can be "re-routed" to pay for OA publishing.
But (2) and (3) are hypothetical speculations whereas (1) is a certainty. And (most important), a certainty whose demonstrated benefits are not outweighed by the hypothetical risk to publishers' subscription revenues.
JV: "As evidence he puts forward that having effectively had a physics archive in which published articles have been available freely for a decade and a half or so, this has not discernibly reduced the willingness of librarians to keep paying for subscriptions to the journals with the very same material. And indeed, he makes very plausible that in physics, over the last decade and a half, there has been no damage to journals. But then he extrapolates."I do not extrapolate. I say (truly) that there is no evidence as yet of self-archiving's decreasing subscription revenues; but if and when it ever does, the system will adapt naturally, with institutional subscription cancellation savings being "re-routed" toward institutional OA publication costs.
JV: "And although Stevan may even turn out to be right -- only hindsight will tell and we have to keep an open mind on that -- for societies and other publishers just to take his word for it or even his 'evidence' that his extrapolations are valid, would be a serious dereliction of fiduciary duty, and sooo unnecessary. Because with some political will, publishing can be reformed, and reformed very quickly, without damage, or even the threat of damage, to anyone. And thus the problems could be fundamentally solved instead of treated with sticky-plasters such as OA through self-archiving (great as institutional repositories otherwise are)."May I make a proposal? Go ahead and reform publishing! But in the meanwhile, please let OA self-archiving be mandated, so that researchers can have their long-awaited OA, ending at last their needless, cumulative research usage and impact losses, and so that any further adaptations, if there are indeed to be any, can take their natural course in the OA era.
Publishers should stop delaying and disparaging the OA self-archiving mandate and re-route their energy and attention toward publishing reform. Then everyone will be happy: Researchers, their institutions, their funders, and the public that funds them will be happy with their maximized research access, usage and impact, and publishers, with whatever they wish to do toward re-routing publishing toward another cost-recovery model.
Let one not stand in the way of the other.
PS There is perhaps also something to be said in defence of consistency (and clarity too): One cannot both affirm and deny the very same thing, no matter how one blurs it and how wishfully one thinks...
American Scientist Open Access Forum
Sunday, July 9. 2006
Lisa Dittrich (LD), Managing Editor, Academic Medicine, wrote:
Harold Varmus strong-armed his fellow Nobel Laureates to sign his decrees? Did he also strong-arm the 34,000 signatories of the PLoS Open Letter?LD: "I personally think the push to OA has come from a few zealots (Varmus and whatever Nobel Laureates he could strong arm into signing his various decrees)"
About 'the serials crisis' or about the serials crisis? Does LD think they are just crying wolf?LD: "and librarians upset about 'the serials crisis'"
So it is out of contentment with the "open access" they already have that those of the 34,000 researchers who were not strong-armed by Harold signed the PLoS petition?LD: "Most scientists, though, with the possible exception of physicists, have been quite content with the "open access" they already have--namely, the ability to easily get content through their libraries, paid for by their library's budget."
And is it to be expected that (once the word is out) scientists, their institutions and their funders will be content to know that until they provide open access to them their articles are getting only half their potential research impact?
Keep counting, because those numbers are changing -- and not in the direction of knowing less...LD: "many of the authors I work with... don't even know what the term "open access" means!"
...'unless our employer or funder mandates it, in which case 95% of us will do it, 81% willingly' (Swan & Brown 2004, 2005 research author surveys).LD: "And they are VERY busy people. So ask them to take one more step after publication--to deposit their research on an NIH database, or even an IR, and most will say 'I'll get to that... sometime'... "
Livelihoods? We both have day jobs!LD: "As with most other causes, it's those whose livelihoods --the Varmuses and Harnads of the world"
That's to be expected. But librarians and publishers can only knick and twist: it is researchers who provide the content, and they're the only ones who can provide the OA. But their employers and funders can help see to it that they do -- just as they see to it that they publish at all ("publish or perish").LD: "--and those whose pocketbooks--the librarians and publishers--who are most invested in this issue who get their knickers in a twist over it"
Does LD mean those "opine-accessors" who just can't resist thinking out loud on OA lists? I agree they're a liability, to both sides, but I'm not sure why they're being singled out as "intellectuals": Intellectual content or rigor is certainly not what the OA movement is going to go down in history for...LD: "intellectuals w/too much time on their hands."
And counting their citations -- and getting promoted and funded for them. How long does LD think it will take the news to trickle down to the least intellectual of them that they are losing citations as long as they lose would-be users who can't afford the access-tolls?LD: "The researchers are busy researching and publishing."
Has LD ever wondered, then, why scientists publish it at all? or count their citations? Because, you see, OA is about what researchers publish, not what they hold "close to the vest for fear of being scooped." And have you ever asked yourself, Lisa: if your researchers didn't want to share their findings (indeed if they weren't mandated by their employers and funders to "publish or perish") what would fill the pages of Academic Medicine?LD: "One other thing: the assumption that all researchers want to share their data is nuts. Remember the fight over who first discovered the AIDS virus? It got pretty ugly. And we've published research in our journal about geneticists holding their findings pretty close to the vest for fear of being scooped. It's not all a love fest in science land, people."
American Scientist Open Access Forum
NIH Director Elias Zerhouni was interviewed by Susan Morissey in Chemical and Engineering News: July 3, 2006 Volume 84, Number 27 pp. 12-17
(1) It is hard to see (1a) why it is zealotry to insist that researchers (sic) need immediate rather than delayed access to publicly funded research findings -- or (1b) how the tax-paying public's interest is in the middle!Zerhouni: "What I've found with [the open access] issue is paralysis [emphasis added]. You have the zealots on one side who are hammering for open access right away. And then on the other side, you have the zealots who say that open access is absolutely not right. In the middle is the taxpayers' interest.
Public research is not funded to have its uptake, usage and applications (for the benefit of the public that funds it) embargoed from all those researchers who cannot afford access to the journal in which it happens to be published. Open access has now been repeatedly demonstrated to both increase and accelerate research usage and impact. Immediate access is the growth tip for rapidly progressing fields of research. Needlessly delaying access at the growth tip produces a counterproductive and unjustifiable bottleneck in research that is in the interests of neither research progress nor the public that funded it.
Nor is there as yet any evidence whatsoever that immediate access "causes a loss of viability in being able to produce good articles and good journals": This is being assumed, a priori, instead of being tested objectively, by requiring immediate access, monitoring the outcome annually, and making suitable adjustments only if and when there is ever any evidence that they are needed.
What induces paralysis is making these adjustments a priori, as NIH has done, requesting instead of requiring open access, and allowing it to be delayed instead of immediate. The failure of the NIH "request" policy is already apparent after the needless loss of two more years of potential research impact and progress since its first needlessly flawed NIH implementation two years ago. Those losses in research usage and impact owing to needless access embargos will themselves become directly measurable with time. In the meanwhile, the maximization of research access and progress are kept in a needless state of paralysis that is anything but a "middle ground."
(2) The primary and urgent purpose of open access is certainly not so that "scientists have access to [NIH's] portfolio of research so they can see what [NIH] has funded"! It is so scientists can use and apply the research findings, immediately, for the benefit of the public that funded it for that very purpose ("CURES").
(3) It is true that "It is also important that at some point the public, which pays for 99.5% of this research, is not prevented from having access to it" -- but that is not the primary purpose of open access! Its purpose is immediate scientific usage and applications, for the benefit of the public.
(4) Even though it is certainly not the primary reason for open access that "NIH needs a database of the research it funds so that it can have accountability and the ability to analyze its own portfolio," NIH can have that portfolio by requiring immediate deposit without even necessarily requiring that the articles be made publicly accessible immediately! Individual scientists who need to know and use the findings immediately, however, could have immediate access through the simple expedient of the EMAIL-EPRINT-REQUEST button that is now being implemented in researchers' own institutional repositories -- if, that is, the immediate deposit of the full text is systematically mandated. (Otherwise email eprint requests are a hopelessly time-consuming, uncertain and low-yield strategy.)
Hence the "happy medium" is to require immediate deposit in the researchers' own institutional repositories and to harvest the deposits into PubMed Central after whatever embargo period NIH judges necessary (a priori) to insure that this is not "done at the expense [of the] viability of peer-reviewed scientific publishing."
To instead allow an a-priori deposit embargo is to guarantee continued paralysis -- an outcome happy for no one (except perhaps some publishers).
Requesting delayed deposit in PubMed Central instead of requiring immediate deposit is not a happy medium, and it has already been shown to be nonviable. And the way the viability of an adaptation is determined in biological evolution is through its adaptive consequences. There is an element of "intelligent design" in this, in requiring research self-archiving at all; and we already know that self-archiving's consequences for research and researchers are positive. We don't yet know what effect mandated self-archiving will have on publishing, except that to date -- after 15 years of spontaneous self-archiving, which has in some fields reached 100% -- self-archiving itself has had no negative effect at all.Zerhouni: "I'm not driven by what the popular thing to do is; I'm driven by what's right... I believe... a happy medium can be found. But if the happy medium causes a loss of viability in being able to produce good articles and good journals, it won't work."
The happy medium is to require immediate deposit and allow delayed access-setting. And the way to find out whether or not it will work is to do it, and thereby test objectively whether it causes any "loss of viability in being able to produce good articles and good journals."
That's not what's popular; it's what's right: for research and researchers -- and for the tax-paying public that funds them, and for whose benefit the research is conducted. Journals need to adapt to what is best for research, researchers and the public. Otherwise it's the happy tail wagging the unhappy dog.
"A Simple Way to Optimize the NIH Public Access Policy" (Oct 2004)Stevan Harnad
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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.
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