Friday, August 31. 2007
As there is a concerted disinformation campaign now underway on the part of some (but not all) members of the Association of American Publishers (AAP) "PRISM" coalition, an anti-OA lobby faithfully following the high-priced pit-bull script that AAP purchased from corporate image trouble-shooter Eric Dezenhall in January 2007 for the express purpose of combatting Open Access, I would like to bring some simple home truths to the attention of all interested parties (for free):
(1) Peer-Reviewed Journal-Article Authors Give Journals Their Articles for Free: No Royalties. The authors of peer-reviewed journal articles, unlike all other authors, donate their articles to journal publishers for free, allowing the publisher to sell their articles for a (subscription) fee that goes exclusively to the publisher: Not a penny of royalty revenue, salaries or fees is sought or received by these authors (or their funders, or their employers) out of the total income that their publishers earn from selling their articles. This is not "work for hire." The only thing these authors ask in exchange for granting to their publishers the right to sell their articles is peer review, to ensure and certify their article's quality.That is the status quo today: The costs of managing peer review are covered, many times over, by selling -- mostly to the authors' institutions -- paper and online access to the articles donated for free by the authors, with the peer review donated for free by the peers.
These authors, however (who are also the peers, as well as the users, and whose progress and careers depend on the uptake of their research by other author/researchers) have never been satisfied with leaving their research accessible only to those users whose institutions could afford subscription access to the journal in which it was published. In the paper era, if a would-be user lacked subscription access, they would write to the author to request a reprint, which the author would then mail to the requester, at the author's own expense.
Then email made it faster and cheaper to send eprints to requesters by email. And finally the web made it possible to self-archive the eprint in the author's institutional repository, making it openly accessible to all would-be users who could not afford access to the publisher's version, without the bottle-neck of an email exchange. This is called Open Access Self-Archiving or "Green OA."
The funder and university Green OA mandates that are the target of the anti-OA lobby are simply the effort on the part of researchers funders and universities to maximize the benefits of the research that they themselves have funded and salaried, by ensuring that all of it is deposited in an OA repository, freely accessible online to all those would-be users webwide who cannot afford paid access.
Sixty-two percent of journals have already endorsed this new means of maximizing access to research in the online era, while 38% still seek to block or embargo access. But this is not what the anti-OA lobbying is about, because the proposed and adopted funder and university Green OA mandates can allow access embargoes (with semi-automatized email eprint request buttons to tide over access needs during the embargo period).
The anti-OA lobbying is instead based on the remarkable (and alarming) claim that OA mandates will destroy peer review, and thereby scientific quality.
But just a little reflection should make not only the falsity but the self-servingness of this claim completely transparent:
(4) If Institutional Subscriptions Are Ever Cancelled, Peer Review Management Costs Will Be Paid Out of the Institutional Subscription Cancellation Savings. If and when institutional subscriptions were ever cancelled unsustainably as a consequence of Green OA, the cost of peer review could easily be paid for directly by institutions, on behalf of their employees, per paper submitted, out of just a fraction of the very same funds they have saved from their institutional subscription cancellations. All access and archiving would then be provided by the network of institutional OA repositories instead of the publisher, who would only provide the peer review. This is called "OA publishing" or "Gold OA."The Gold OA cost-recovery model is premature today, when there is still a healthy demand for the paper edition and the publisher's online edition. But it is the natural and obvious answer to the question of what will pay for managing peer review if and when that demands disappears and subscriptions become unsustainable.
Hence what the anti-OA lobby is actually worrying about is the loss of their subscription revenues, not the loss of peer review. So far, however, there is no evidence that Green OA has caused any subscription cancellations at all. The demand for both the paper edition and the publisher's online edition are still healthy. But the real question is whether the demonstrable benefits of OA to research, researchers, their institutions, their funders and the general public are to be renounced in order to protect journal publishers from a possible risk to their revenue streams.
This is not about peer review at all, but about an industry trying to resist adapting to technological developments in the online era merely in order to maximize its own interests, at the expense of the public interest.
American Scientist Open Access Forum
Wednesday, August 29. 2007
The Association of American Publishers (AAP) has launched "PRISM" (Partnership for Research Integrity in Science & Medicine), an anti-OA lobbying organization, to counteract the accelerating growth of OA and the dramatic success of the pro-OA Alliance for Taxpayer Access (ATA) lobbying organization in the US and the EC Open Access Petition in Europe.
See Peter Suber's splendid, measured critique of PRISM's statements in Open Access News (more to come in Peter's September SPARC Open Access Newsletter [SOAN]).
The blogosphere is also on the case. (See especially the brilliant caricature of the publishing lobby's arguments here.) Unlike the pro-OA lobby, which has a huge and growing public support base worldwide, the anti-OA lobby is up against the problem that it has neither a public support constituency, nor any ethical or practical case to build one on. It is simply an industry trying to favor its corporate interests over the public interest without quite saying so. Hence PRISM is now applying, quite literally, the "pit-bull" tactics recommended to them by the PR firm of Eric Dezenhall, namely, to pretend (i) that OA represents government interference in both the corporate sector and the research sphere and (ii) that OA puts both peer-review and scientific quality at risk.
Although the bickering and blogging and spinning on this will be frenetic, the actual issues behind it are extremely simple:
(1) Open Access (OA) (free online access to peer-reviewed research) maximizes access to research findings. It thereby also maximizes the uptake, usage, and application of research findings, hence research productivity and progress.That's all there is to it: The online era has made possible an obvious benefit for research, and the publishing lobby is trying to resist adapting to it. What needs to be kept clearly in mind is that research is not conducted and funded as a service to the publishing industry, but vice versa.
Fortunately, the very openness of the online era is to the benefit of the pro-OA lobby, as the specious arguments of the anti-OA lobby can be openly exposed and answered rather than being left to be voiced solely in closed corridors (lobbies), where their obvious rebuttals cannot be promptly echoed in reply.
Berners-Lee, T., De Roure, D., Harnad, S. and Shadbolt, N. (2005) Open Letter to Research Councils UK: Rebuttal of ALPSP Critique.Stevan Harnad
American Scientist Open Access Forum
Sunday, August 26. 2007
The United Kingdom's Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) is doing two things right. There are also two things it is planning to do that are currently problematic, but that could easily be made right. Let's start with what RAE is already doing right:
(+1) It is a good idea to have a national research performance evaluation to monitor and reward research productivity and progress. Other countries will be following and eventually emulating the UK's lead. (Australia is already emulating it.)But, as with all policies that are being shaped collectively by disparate (and sometimes under-informed) policy-making bodies, two very simple and remediable flaws in the reformed RAE system have gone detected and hence uncorrected. They can still be corrected, and there is still hope that they will be, as they are small, easily fixed flaws; but, if left unfixed, they will have negative consequences, compromising the RAE as well as the RAE reforms:
(-1) The biggest flaw concerns the metrics that will be used. Metrics first have to be tested and validated, discipline by discipline, to ensure that they are accurate indicators of research performance. Since the UK has relied on the RAE panel evaluations for two decades, and since the last RAE (2008) before conversion to metrics is to be a parallel panel/metrics exercise, the natural thing to do is to test as many candidate metrics as possible in this exercise, and to cross-validate them against the rankings given by the panels, separately, in each discipline. (Which metrics are valid performance indicators will differ from discipline to discipline.)
Hence the prior-funding metric (-1a) needs to be used cautiously, to avoid bias and self-fulfilling prophecy; and the citation-count metric (-2b) is a good candidate, but only one of many potential metrics that can and should be tested in the parallel RAE 2008 metric/panel exercise. (Other metrics include co-citation counts, download counts, download and citation growth and longevity counts, hub/authority scores, interdisciplinarity scores, and many other rich measures for which RAE 2008 is the ideal time to do the testing and validation, discipline by disciplines, as it is virtually certain that disciplines will differ in which metrics are predictive for them, and what the weightings of each metric should be.) Yet it looks as if RAE 2008 and HEFCE are not currently planning to commission this all-important validation analysis, testing metrics against panel rankings for a rich array of candidate metrics. This is a huge flaw and oversight, although it can still be easily remedied by going ahead and doing such a systematic cross-validation study after all.(-1a) Prior research funding has already been shown to be extremely highly correlated with the RAE panel rankings in a few (mainly scientific) disciplines, but this was undoubtedly because the panels, in making their rankings, already had those metrics in hand, as part of the submission. Hence the panels themselves could explicitly (or implicitly) count them in making their judgments! Now a correlation between metrics and panel rankings is desirable initially, because that is the way to launch and validate the candidate metrics. In the case of this particular metric, however, not only is there a potential interaction, indeed a bias, that makes the prior-funding metric and the panel ranking non-independent, and hence invalidates the test of this metric's validity, but there is also a deeper reason for not putting a lot of weight on the prior-funding metric:
For such a systematic metric/panel cross-validation study in RAE 2008, however, the array of candidate metrics has to be made as rich and diverse as possible. The RAE is not currently making any effort to collect as many potential metrics as possible in RAE 2008, and this is partly because it is overlooking the growing importance of online, Open Access metrics -- and indeed overlooking the growing importance of Open Access itself, both in research productivity and progress itself, and in evaluating it.
Brody, T., Carr, L., Gingras, Y., Hajjem, C., Harnad, S. and Swan, A. (2007) Incentivizing the Open Access Research Web: Publication-Archiving, Data-Archiving and Scientometrics. CTWatch Quarterly 3(3).This brings us to the second flaw in HEFCE's RAE 2008 plans:
(-2) For no logical or defensible reason at all, RAE 2008 is insisting that researchers submit the publishers' PDFs for the 2008 exercise. Now it does represent some progress that the RAE is accepting electronic drafts rather than requiring hard copy, as in past years. But in insisting that those electronic drafts must be the publisher's PDF, the RAE is creating two unnecessary problems.To recapitulate: two pluses -- (+1) research performance itself, and (+2) conversion to metrics -- plus two (correctable) minuses -- (-1) failure to explicitly provide for the systematic evaluation of a rich candidate spectrum of metrics against the RAE 2008 panel rankings and (-2) failure to require deposit of the authors' papers in their own IRs, to generate more OA metrics, more OA, and more UK research impact.(-2a) One unnecessary problem, a minor one, is that the RAE imagines that in order to have the publisher's PDF for evaluation, they need to seek (or even pay for) permission from the publisher. This is complete nonsense! Researchers (i.e., the authors) submit their own published work to the RAE for evaluation. For the researchers, this is Fair Dealing (Fair Use) and no publisher permission or payment whatsoever is needed. (As it happens, I believe HEFCE has worked out a "special arrangement" whereby publishers "grant permission" and "waive payment." But the completely incorrect notion that permission or payment were even at issue, in principle, has an important negative consequence, which I will now describe.)
The good news is that there is still time to fully remedy (-1) and (-2), if only policy-makers take a moment to listen, think it through, and do the little that needs to be done to fix it.
Appendix: Are Panel Rankings Face-Valid?
It is important to allay a potential misunderstanding: It is definitely not the case that the RAE panel rankings are themselves infallible or face-valid! The panelists are potentially biased in many ways. And RAE panel review was never really "peer review," because peer review means consulting the most qualified specialists in the world for each specific paper, whereas the panels are just generic UK panels, evaluating all the UK papers in their discipline: It is the journals who already conducted the peer review.
So metrics are not just needed to put an end to the waste and the cost of the existing RAE, but also to try to put the outcome on a more reliable, objective, valid and equitable basis. The idea is not to duplicate the outcome of the panels, but to improve it.
Nevertheless -- and this is the critical point -- the metrics do have to be validated; and, as an essential first step, they have to be cross-validated against the panel rankings, discipline by discipline. For even though those panel rankings are and always were flawed, they are what the RAE has been relying upon, completely, for two decades.
So the first step is to make sure that the metrics are chosen and weighted so as to get as close a fit to the panel rankings as possible, discipline by discipline. Then, and only then, can the "ladder" of the panel-rankings -- which got us where we are -- be tossed away, allowing us to rely on the metrics alone -- which can then be continuously calibrated and optimised in future years, with feedback from future meta-panels that are monitoring the rankings generated by the metrics and, if necessary, adjusting and fine-tuning the metric weights or even adding new, still to be discovered and tested metrics to them.
In sum: despite their warts, the current RAE panel rankings need to be used to bootstrap the new metrics into usability. Without that prior validation based on what has been used until now, the metrics are just hanging from a skyhook and no one can say whether or not they measure what the RAE panels have been measuring until now. Without validation, there is no continuity in the RAE and it is not really a "conversion" to metrics, but simply an abrupt switch to another, untested assessment tool.
(Citation counts have been tested elsewhere, in other fields, but as there has never been anything of the scope and scale of the UK RAE, across all disciplines in an entire country's research output, the prior patchwork testing of citation counts as research performance indicators is nowhere near providing the evidence that would be needed to make a reliable, valid choice of metrics for the UK RAE: only cross-validation within the RAE parallel metric/panel exercise itself -- jointly with a rich spectrum of other candidate metrics -- can provide that kind of evidence, and the requisite continuity, for a smooth, rational transition from panel rankings to metrics.)
American Scientist Open Access Forum
Thursday, August 23. 2007
In the August CTWatch, Paul Ginsparg wrote:
PG: "Studies have shown a correlation between openly accessible materials and citation impact, though a direct causal link is more difficult to establish, and other mechanisms accounting for the effect are easily imagined."The causal mechanisms underlying the positive correlation between OA and research impact are not only imaginable, but the five most probable causal contributors have already been repeatedly itemized. Indeed, they were listed in another article in the same CTWatch issue: "Incentivizing the Open Access Research Web":
OA Advantage (OAA) = EA + QA + UA + (CA) + (QB)
PG: "It is worthwhile to note, however, that even if some articles currently receive more citations by virtue of being open access, it doesn't follow that the benefit would continue to accrue through widespread expansion of open access publication."Worthwhile to note, and already noted (see above: CA). However, the "widespread expansion to open access" has not yet taken place, and that's the point! OA is still hovering somewhere around 15% overall. The urgent and substantive item on the agenda concerns how to make it take place. And the competitive advantage is one of those incentives. (So are EA, QA, and UA.)
(Note also that the objective of OA is OA itself, not necessarily or primarily OA publication ["Gold OA"]. 100% OA can be achieved via "Green OA" self-archiving of non-OA publications, and that is what OA mandates by research funders and universities are aiming for. Green OA is entirely in the hands of the research community, and can be accelerated and ensured through Green OA mandates. Gold OA is largely in the hands of publishers, cannot be mandated, and can and will take care of itself, if need be, after OA itself has been achieved, through Green OA and Green OA mandates.)
PG: "Indeed, once the bulk of publication is moved to open access, then whatever relative boost might be enjoyed by early adopters would long since have disappeared, with relative numbers of citations once again determined by the usual independent mechanisms."About 90% of citations are accorded to about 10% of articles. Roughly speaking, this means that the most useful articles are used most, and that they are approximately the top 10%. It is also the most useful articles that benefit from OA the most. The correlation is between citation counts and probability of being OA: OA cannot help unuseful articles get used more, though it can unearth occasional neglected gems that are published in obscure and little-subscribed-to journals.
It is also true that the top 10% of articles are more likely to be published in the top 10% of journals, which are also the most widely subscribed-to -- hence the most accessible -- journals. But even so, they are not accessible to all their potential users, because most universities can only afford to subscribe to a small fraction of journals.
Hence, even after all research is OA, and the competitive advantage is all gone, the distribution of usage and citations will not simply be "once again determined by the usual independent mechanisms." There will now be a level playing field, with what is used and cited being determined solely by its quality and usefulness (QA, UA), no longer constrained by the affordability and accessibility of the journal in which it published, as now. And the beneficiary will be the entire research cycle, its productivity and its progress.
PG: "Citation impact per se is consequently not a serious argument for encouraging more authors to adopt open access publication."Not only is impact enhancement a serious argument to authors for providing OA (not necessarily Gold OA publication!) to their published articles, but it is the strongest argument for OA: Either OA does increase research usage, hence its productivity and progress, or it doesn't. If it doesn't, there is little remaining rationale for OA: Teaching? Maybe, but how much of primary research output will ever be used and useful for teaching? Public access? For things like health-relevant findings, yes, but how much of primary research output will ever be used or useful for public reading?
PG: "A different potential impact and benefit to the general public, on the other hand, is the greater ease with which science journalists and bloggers can write about and link to open access articles."If the primary rationale for OA were accessibility to science journalists, the OA movement would be dead in the water. Instead of making the annual 2.5 million articles in the 25,000 journals across all disciplines and languages OA, publishers could simply agree to the compromise of making their online sites freely accessible to designated journalists. End of story. No need for IRs, no need for self-archiving, no need for Green OA mandates (and of course no need for Gold OA publication).
As to bloggers: As with everything else, most of what they blog is not of interest to most. The important bloggings about research will come from researchers themselves, in the form of Open Peer Commentary, and will simply be part of the Early Advantage (EA) of OA, which is yet another contributor to the OA usage/impact advantage, the primary "serious" and scalable rationale for OA.
American Scientist Open Access Forum
I do not quite understand all the fuss about the American Anthropological Association's switch in publishers from the University of California Press to Wiley/Blackwell. Yes, Wiley/Blackwell is a commercial publisher, and UC Press is a university press. But both are "Green" on author Open Access self-archiving, meaning they have both endorsed immediate self-archiving of the author's final, accepted draft (postprint) in the author's Institutional Repository, providing immediate Open Access to the article [but see FOOTNOTE].
The time to raise a hew and cry would be if and when Wiley/Blackwell ever contemplated changing their green self-archiving policy. But green policies (62% of journals currently) are growing in number, not shrinking, and this is largely because university and research-funder Green OA mandates, requiring their researchers to deposit their postprints, are growing in number.
So let the research community focus its voice and its will on Green OA policies for its publishers, as well as for its institutions and funders, rather than on spurious distinctions among commercial, university and learned-society publishers (all of which have their share of both green and non-green publishers!).
FOOTNOTE: There is one substantive point, however, about the AAA's transition to Wiley/Blackwell, which is that some of Blackwell's journals impose embargos on the date at which access to the deposit can be set as Open Access.Stevan Harnad
American Scientist Open Access Forum
Saturday, August 18. 2007
The Coming Revolution in Scholarly Communications & Cyberinfrastructure
Friday, August 10. 2007
To fast-forward to 2012 see
"Research Works Act H.R.3699:
The Private Publishing Tail
Trying To Wag The Public Research Dog,
Publisher anti-OA Lobby Triumphs in European Commission (2007)
(feel free to use to promote OA and to bait "pit-bulls")
Tuesday, August 7. 2007
Professor Andrew Colman, University of Leicester, wrote:
I am keen to have my publications archived where they are likely to be found by interested readers. After your encouraging reply [suggesting that I deposit, by default, peer-reviewed final manuscript drafts rather than the publisher's PDF], I spent a whole day retrieving 63 manuscript drafts of articles and tidying them up for deposit in the Leicester Research Archive. Because PDFs of the published versions are already in my own web space, I inserted a hyperlink on each manuscript version, directing readers to the PDF version.I would advise you to to forward this exchange to the IP policy-makers at U Leicester, because the logic of the current UL policy has to be more carefully thought through. I am sure UL's motivation is to help, not hinder UL's research impact while ensuring everything is in conformity with the law. A few minor but critical changes in the current policy will accomplish both goals: maximal impact, and full legality:
A month later, less than half of my manuscripts are in the Leicester Research Archive. The archive has been seeking permission from the publishers [as a precondition] for archiving each manuscript draft, and, for those for which permission has been granted, have also carefully deleted the hyperlinks that I inserted at the top of each manuscript draft.This is the policy that urgently needs to be carefully thought through again, as it has a few major, unnecessary flaws that are easily remediable, but do need to be remedied:
(Deleting hyperlinks to the PDFs on your website makes no sense at all!)(1) All manuscripts should be deposited immediately upon acceptance for publication. Deposit itself is entirely the prerogative of UL, an internal matter, not requiring permission from anyone. It is only access-setting to that deposited document -- i.e. Open Access vs. Closed Access -- that can depend in part on publisher policy.
I am not convinced of the value of manuscript drafts on their own. Researchers cannot rely on them, even if they are in fact faithful versions of the published articles, which is seldom the case because of copy-editing alterations that are often not even discussed with authors.You are judging this against the wrong baseline:
Please do not think of OA self-archiving as a substitute subscription access (for now). The self-archived draft is a supplement to the subscription draft, provided for those who are denied subscription access. You can make your final draft as faithful as you judge necessary. But it would be a profound error in judgment and priorities to deprive would-be users of access altogether, when they can't afford subscription access at all, mistakenly thinking you are thereby protecting them from being deprived of the copy-editing!(a) If a potential user has access to either the publisher's paper version or PDF, they can and will use that. Those are not the users for whom the self-archived version is being provided.
Even if one had confidence in the accuracy of a manuscript version, it would be impossible to quote from it, because the pagination would be missing. I don't find other researchers' manuscript drafts nearly as useful as final PDFs.Again, you are weighing this entirely from the wrong viewpoint: Those who can't access it, cannot read or use your research at all.
(And of course one can quote from a manuscript version. One quotes it, specifying the section and paragraph number instead of the page! That is in fact more accurate and scholarly than a page reference. And if the copy-editor (of the article one is writing, in which one is quoting from an article for which one only has access to the final draft, not the PDF) requests page-spans, that's the time to tell the copy-editor that one does not have subscription access, so let them look up the page numbers -- or use the even better scholarly indicator of section name and paragraph number.)
You said that "Leicester's only omission in all of this is not yet having mandated deposit; once it does that, all will go well". Worse than that, the person handling my submissions believes that publishers need to be contacted for each item, and that "unfortunately I do have to wait for permission to archive them, even if they are drafts. Generally publishers do not allow the 'as published versions' to be archived by anyone apart from themselves on their own sites and so for us to archive them, or provide links to sites, other than the publisher's official site, may breach copyright law... Unfortunately we are not allowed to even archive the drafts from the following publications which you have articles in [followed by a list]".This UL provisional policy has not been thought through and needs only a few simple parametric changes to make it sensible and effective:
(i) The manuscript can and should be deposited immediately. No one's permission is needed for that, and the metadata are then immediately visible webwide, and the "Fair Use" Button can start doing its job.
The Leicester Archive policy is very wrong on this score. I urge you to take it up with the administration, because currently they are shooting themselves in the foot, gratuitously, with this flawed policy, so easily corrected.
Yes, there are other Archives (e.g. Depot or CogPrints) you could deposit it in, but it would be a great pity if Leicester did not sort out its own deposit policy, as it is so simple to do: I. All manuscripts should be deposited immediately.
II. Not only the archivists but the authors should be able to deposit, as they can in virtually all of the other IRs worldwide. Almost no IR restricts depositing to proxy archivists (and those few that do are making a big mistake in imposing this needless and counterproductive restriction).
III. If there are worries about rights, check Romeo, and, if the archivist wishes, also write to the publisher. But meanwhile, deposit immediately and set Access as Closed Access if in doubt.
IV. Implement the "Fair Use" Button.
V. Adopt the Immediate-Deposit/Optional-Access (ID/OA) policy.
Professor Diana Kornbrot of the University of Hertfordshire added:
I am having similar problems at University of Hertfordshire.Yes there is a draft code of practice!
1. The Immediate-Deposit/Optional Access (ID/OA) Mandate: Rationale and Model
2. Professor Arthur Sale of University of Tasmania, which has an OA self-archiving mandate (designed by Prof. Sale) has also provided a "Generic Risk Analysis of Open Access For Your Institution".EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Universities are 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): Deposit, in the author's own Institutional Repository (IR), of the author's final, peer-reviewed draft of all journal articles 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).
3. Model policies for research funders have also been drafted (collaboratively by Alma Swan, Arthur Sale, Subbiah Arunachalam, Peter Suber and Stevan Harnad, by modifying the Wellcome Trust Self-Archiving Policy to eliminate the 6-month embargo and the central archiving requirement).
4. And here is the OA Self-Archiving Policy of the University of Southampton Department of Electronics and Computer Science (the first OA self-archiving mandate - from 2001):
Stevan Harnad1. It is our policy to maximise the visibility, usage and impact of our research output by maximising online access to it for all would-be users and researchers worldwide.
American Scientist Open Access Forum
Sunday, August 5. 2007
The only thing standing between the research community and 100% Open Access (OA) is: K E Y S T R O K E S
Universities and Research Funders need to mandate those keystrokes with the
Immediate-Deposit/Optional-Access (ID/OA) Mandate:Immediate Deposit + Immediate Open Access (62%)EITHER
Immediate Deposit + Closed Access + “Fair Use Button” (38%)OR (optionally, in case of a publisher embargo)
1. In the case of an embargoed (Closed Access) deposit the would-be user sees this:
2. Clicking on the Request button allows eprint requester to insert email address (and, optionally, to specify reason for requesting eprint):
3. Author of eprint receives email request and can click either to email eprint (automatically) or reject request:
Saturday, August 4. 2007
Ethics of Open Access to Biomedical Research: Just a Special Case of Ethics of Open Access to Research
1. All peer-reviewed research articles are written for the purpose of being accessed, used, applied and built upon by all their potential users, everywhere, not in order to generate royalty income for their author (or their publisher). (This is not true of writing in general, e.g., newspaper and magazine articles by journalists, or books. It is only true, without exception, of peer-reviewed research journal articles, and it is true in all disciplines, without exception.)
2. Research productivity and progress, and hence researchers' careers, salary, research funding, reputation, and prizes all depend on the usage and application of their research findings ("research impact"). This is enshrined in the academic mandate to "publish or perish," and in the reward system of academic research.
3. The reason the academic reward system is set up that way is that that is also how research institutions and research funders benefit from the research output they produce and fund: by maximizing its usage and impact. That is also how the cumulative research cycle itself progresses and grows, along with the benefits it provides for society, the public that funds it: In order to be used, applied, and built upon, research needs to be accessible to all its potential users (and not only to those that can afford access to the journals in which the research happens to be published.).
4. Open Access (OA) -- free online access -- has been demonstrated to increase research usage and impact by 25%-250% or more. This "OA Advantage" has been found in all fields: natural sciences, biomedical sciences, engineering, social sciences, and humanities.
5. Hence it is true, without exception, in all fields, that the potential research benefit is there, if only the research is made OA.
6. OA has only become possible since the onset of the online era.
7. Research can be made OA in two ways:
(7a) Research can be made "Gold OA" by publishing it in an OA journal that makes it free online (with some OA journals, but not all, covering their costs by charging the author-institution for publishing it rather than by charging the user-institution for accessing it; many Gold OA journals today still continue to cover their costs via subscriptions to the paper edition).8. Despite its benefits to research, researchers, their institutions, their funders, the R&D industry, and the tax-paying public that funds the research, only about 15% of researchers are spontaneously self-archiving their research today (Green OA). (A somewhat lower percentage is publishing in Gold OA journals, deterred in part by the cost.)
9. Only Green OA is entirely within the hands of the research community. Researchers' funders and institutions cannot (hence should not) mandate Gold OA; but they can mandate Green OA, as a natural extension of their "publish or perish" mandate, to maximize research usage and impact in the online era. Institutions and funders are now actually beginning to adopt Green OA mandates especially in the UK, and also in Europe and Australia; the US is only beginning to propose Green OA mandates.
10. Some publishers are lobbying against Green OA self-archiving mandates, claiming it will destroy peer review and publishing. All existing evidence, however, is contrary to this. (In the few fields where Green OA already reached 100% some years ago, the journals are still not being canceled.) Moreover, it is quite clear that even if and when 100% Green OA should ever lead to unsustainable subscription cancellations, journals can and will simply convert to Gold OA and institutions will then cover their own outgoing Gold OA publishing costs by redirecting part of their windfall subscription cancellation savings on incoming journal articles to cover instead the Gold OA publishing costs for their own outgoing journal article output. The net cost will also be much lower, as it will only need to pay for peer review and its certification by the journal-name, as the distributed network of OA Institutional Repositories will be the online access-providers and archivers (and the paper edition will be obsolete).
11. One of the ways the OA movement is countering the lobbying of publishers against Green OA mandates is by forming the "Alliance for Taxpayer Access." This lobbying group is focusing mainly on biomedicine, and the potential health benefits of tax-payer access to biomedical research. This is definitely a valid ethical and practical rationale for OA, but it is definitely not the sole rationale, nor the primary one.
12. The primary, fundamental and universal rationale for OA and OA mandates, in all disciplines, including biomedicine, is researcher-to-researcher access, not public access (nor even educational access). The vast majority of peer-reviewed research in all disciplines is not of direct interest to the lay public (nor even to students, other than graduate students, who are already researchers). And even in biomedical research, what provides the greatest public benefit is the potential research progress (leading to eventual applications that benefit the public) that arises from maximizing researcher-to-researcher access. Direct public access of course comes with the OA territory. But it is not the sole or primary ethical justification for OA, even in biomedical research.
13. The general ethical rationale and justification for OA is that research is funded, conducted and published in order to be used and applied, not in order to generate revenue for the journal publishing industry. In the paper era, the only way to achieve the former was by allowing access to be restricted to those researchers whose institutions could afford to subscribe to the paper edition. That was the only way the true and sizable costs of peer-reviewed research publishing could be covered at all, then.
14. But in the online era this is no longer true. Hence it is time for the institutions and funders who employ the researchers and fund the research to mandate that the resulting journal articles be made (Green) OA, to the benefit of the entire research community, the vast R&D industry, and the tax-paying public. (This may or may not eventually lead to a transition to Gold OA.)
15. It is unethical for the publishing tail to be allowed to continue to wag the research dog. The dysfunctionality of the status quo is especially apparent when it is public health that is being compromised by needless access restrictions, but the situation is much the same for all scientific and technological research, and for scholarship too, inasmuch as we see and fund scholarly research as a public good, not as a subsidy to the peer-reviewed journal industry.
American Scientist Open Access Forum
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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.
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.)
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