Friday, February 22. 2008
SUMMARY: My OA comrade-at-arms, Peter Suber, in an OA News posting that I quote and comment upon below, compares Harvard's (CMo) Copyright-Retention Mandate with opt-out and (DMn) an Immediate Deposit Mandate with no-opt-out.
The amendment of the Harvard draft policy that I am urging, however, is not to substitute DMn for CMo but to upgrade CMo to CMo+DMn so as to jointly mandate BOTH CMo AND DMn (the former with an opt-out option, the latter without).
That way the Harvard policy will not only capture (1) all the deposits that would have been made by authors who did not opt out of the CMo clause but also (2) all the deposits that would otherwise not have been made at all, because the authors had opted out of the CMo-only mandate.
The amended mandate loses nothing at all of what would have been generated by the original Harvard mandate alone, it only adds further gains, while still allowing opt-out from copyright retention.
Peter Suber: I'm not saying that the Harvard-style mandate will generate a higher level of compliance and OA than a dual deposit-release style mandate (or what Stevan calls immediate deposit/optional access). I think this remains to be seen.I agree that whether it would be CMo or DMn that generated a higher level of compliance and of OA would remain to be seen (after Harvard's proposed CMo trial period of three years -- although we do already know from Arthur Sale's data that DMn approaches 80-100% within two years).
But that is not what I propose. I propose adding the Deposit Mandate (with no opt-out) (DMn) to Harvard's current Copyright Retention Mandate (CMo) (with opt-out, exactly as it already is now):
Not CMo vs. DMn, but CMo vs. CMo+DMn.
That will insure the Harvard mandate against the possibility of another needless loss of three years of research usage and impact (as happened with the unsuccessful first version of the NIH OA policy, until it was upgraded, three years later). And as the Harvard policy is likely to have many emulators worldwide during the three-year trial period (as the NIH policy did), it is especially important to give them them the right model to follow.
Peter Suber: At Harvard, faculty will give the institution permission to host copies of their articles in the institutional repository, when they don't opt out, and Harvard will take responsibility for making the actual deposits.There are two components here: (1) the CMo mandate itself, with its all-important question of how great its opt-out rate will be, plus (2) an implementational detail: Harvard engages to do the deposit on the author's behalf (this is elsewhere called mediated or "proxy" deposit).
There are things to be said for and against the implementational detail (mediated deposit): Yes, it's easier for an author if all he needs to do is pass his digital paper to someone else to deposit it for him. Many repositories have tried that, with a certain amount of success.
But authors depositing for themselves (or their students or assistants doing it for them) is a more direct way of doing it then putting the paper in a central queue, and it has some perks of its own: potentially faster turnaround time, more direct author control, and, perhaps most important, assimilation into the author's standard work-flow for drafting and publishing a paper.
In reality, the deposit only takes a few extra minutes' worth of keystrokes per paper, over and above all the keystrokes already performed in writing it and submitting it for publication. Direct author deposit moots the risk of delay in waiting for indirect deposit mediated by a third party (neither the author nor the journal).
The jury is still out on which of the two ways of implementing deposit is the more reliable and efficient procedure (but my guess is that it will prove to be direct author deposit, just as it did with word-processing, email, and online searching).
Peter Suber: If Harvard is fleet and efficient in making these deposits, then it could provide immediate OA to all the articles not subject to opt-outs (which, for the sake of argument, let's peg at 95% of the total).The implementational detail (of direct vs mediated deposit) can be set aside as an open empirical question.
It does not seem to me to be sufficient, however, to assume, for the sake of argument, a 95% non-opt-out rate -- especially in weighing CMo vs. CMo+DMn.
If, three years hence, the non-opt-out rate turned out to have been 75%, 50% or 25% (let alone 4%, as in the case of the failed first policy of NIH), the implications concerning whether it would have been better to adopt CMo or CMo+DMn from the outset would be very different.
So everything rides on what the opt-out rate for CMo would actually turn out to be. And no one has any idea, as this would be the first CMo mandate.
But since the comparison is CMo vs. CMo+DMn (rather than CMo vs. DMn), it is not clear that we even need to know how the deposit rate and the OA rate for CMo alone would have compared with the OA rate for DMn alone.
We do already know from Arthur Sale's empirical analyses as well as the growth data on the other mandated IRs, that the compliance rate for DMn mandates approaches 100% within 2 years.
So with CMo+DMn we know we would have at least 80-100% deposits -- plus whatever deposits CMo alone would have generated, over and above that. (There is no need to know or assume how many that would have been: CNo+DMn would inherit them all!)
Peter Suber: If Harvard is slow to make these deposits, then it will miss a beautiful opportunity arising from the permissions it will have in hand, and may as well defer to publisher embargoes.Peter is expressing concern here about the possible delay in mediated deposit (I share that concern) and comparing that delay to the delay arising from publisher embargoes.
But a far bigger worry is the opt-out rate, hence the size of the loss in deposits (both the OA deposits and Closed Access, almost-OA deposits) with CMo alone.
(As it happens, my proposed amendment, CMo+DMn, did include an implementational suggestion too, one that would help remedy this: The Harvard Mandate does not currently stipulate how the paper is to be provided to the Provost's office for mediated deposit. One potential way is by email. But another is by the author depositing it directly in a Harvard Institutional Repository and then just emailing the Provost's office the URL plus the permission. That would cover all those cases where the author does not opt-out of the CMo component of CMo+DMn -- as well as all the direct deposits that opt out of the CMo clause but comply with the DMn clause.)
So even in cases where the author elects to opt out of the CMo clause of CMo+DMn, there would still be the binding DMn clause, requiring the deposit in the Institutional Repository; and hence there would be the resultant OA and almost-OA that that in turn generates. (The CMo+DMn's no-opt-out DMn clause alone would contribute 80-100% deposits within two years.)
Peter Suber: Likewise, if opt-outs are rare, the level of OA could approach 100%; if they are common, it would be much lower.We indeed have no idea what the opt-out rates of a CMo mandate would be, with or without mediated deposit. If opt-out is low, it's low, if it's high, it's high. Unlike with DMn, we do not know in advance what it will be.
(But we do know that another prominent policy with an opt-out -- the initial NIH non-mandate -- failed dramatically until the opt-out was removed by upgrading it to a mandate -- but only after the attendant loss of another three years of research access, usage and impact. Hence the pre-emptive strategy for Harvard's proposed CMo mandate, to avoid the needless extra risk during the three-year trial period, would be to upgrade to CMo+DMn from the outset.)
Peter Suber: By contrast, under a dual deposit-release strategy, Harvard could have 100% of the articles on deposit. But a good percentage of them would be subject to publisher embargoes and about one-third of them would be subject to flat publisher prohibitions on OA archiving.First, we must again recall that we are talking here about adding the no-opt-out DMn clause to CMo, not about replacing CMo with DMn.
The current publisher policy figures are the following: 62% of journals endorse making postprint deposits OA immediately (and an additional 29% for preprints); about 38% only endorse making postprint deposits OA after an embargo period -- which ranges from 6 months to forever.
(Let's round off the immediate/embargo ratio at 60% of deposits set as immediate OA and the remaining 40% of deposits set as "Closed Access," but with almost-OA provided for that 40% during the embargo by means of the semi-automatic "email eprint request" Button.)
Now here is the crucial point: Peter is here comparing the deposit rate (100%) and OA rate (60%) for a no-opt-out DMn-only mandate with the corresponding deposit and OA rate for a CMo-only mandate allowing opt-out (in the latter case both the deposit and OA percentages being, identically, the unknown CMo non-opt-out percentage: XX%).
But the relevant comparison for my proposed amendment would be this deposit percentage and OA percentage (both identically XX%) for CMo-alone versus the total deposit and OA percentages for CMo+DMn:
Those total CMo+DMn percentages are, respectively, XX% + 100% = 100% and XX% + 60% (which is at least 60%, plus whatever the non-opt-out copyright retention rate is for the articles that are not already part of that 60%).
In other words, compared to CMo alone, there would be no loss in copyright retention and only potential gain in OA with CMo+DMn.
And let's not forget that, with 100% deposit, there will also be systematic almost-immediate, almost-OA for all the non-OA deposits (thanks to the semi-automatic "email eprint request" Button). That too is a pure gain, with no accompanying loss, compared to the current CMo-only policy.
Peter Suber: Hence, each type of policy risks delayed OA (one through institutional sluggishness, one through publisher embargoes), and each risks incomplete OA (one through faculty opt outs and one through deference to publisher policies).Peter is here comparing (1) delay because of mediated deposit arising from CMo alone with (2) delay because of publisher embargoes arising DMn alone.
But for the proposed amendment, the pertinent comparison would be between CMo alone and CMo+DMn. And that comparison shows that there would be no losses and only gains, if CMo were upgraded to CMo+DMn, whether we reckon in terms of opt-outs, deposits, OA, almost-OA or delays.
Here's another way to put this same point. The comparison between CMo and CMo+DMn must take into consideration:
Hence it is essential to include in one's reckoning the (1) unknown Green opt-outs and their resulting non-deposits and OA loss, plus the (2) unknown Pale-Green and Gray opt-outs and their resulting non-deposits and loss of almost-OA. Both of these would arise from opt-out because of unwillingness or failure to renegotiate copyright as required by CMo.(1) Green publishers that endorse immediate author postprint self-archiving but do not agree to rights-retention (i.e., they insist on exclusive rights transfer despite the pressure from CMo mandates like Harvard's): Authors who would not want to renounce those journals, would opt out of CMo. Hence no deposit and no OA, even for those Green journals.
(Harvard's speed in doing mediated deposit, though salient too, is not, I think, nearly as critical as the risk of loss from (1) and (2).)
Peter Suber: If the two key variables -- speed of deposit and level of opt-outs-- work in Harvard's favor, then its policy could be better than a dual deposit-release strategy. But if not, not. Because this is contingent, I can't recommend one type of policy over the other without knowing more about the probabilities.Again, this empirical uncertainty is only pertinent to a comparison between the CMo policy and the DMn policy.
But the comparison I am recommending is between the CMo policy and the CMo+DMn policy. There we can already calculate apriori that CMo+DMn can only do better, not worse, than CMo alone, on all points of comparson: deposits, delays, opt-outs, OA, and almost-OA.
Peter Suber: Because Harvard's is the first university-level mandate to focus on permissions rather than deposits, it deserves a chance to show how well it can work.Yes it does. But adopting CMo+DMn instead of CMo alone will not diminish that chance one bit: It will just add additional, independent likelihood of success to it.
Or, to put it another way, CMo+DMn makes it possible to experiment with a Copyright Mandate without any need to sacrifice the already demonstrated success and benefits of a Deposit Mandate in exchange.
Peter Suber: Can the two types of policy be blended, so that Harvard faculty give permissions (subject to an opt-out) and make deposits (not subject an opt-out)? Yes. But if Harvard is fleet and efficient in making the deposits, that won't be necessary.The degree to which CMo+DMn would generate (1) more deposits, (2) more OA and (3) more almost-OA than CMo alone depends not on Harvard's speed of mediating deposit but on what the (unknown) opt-out rate for CMo alone would prove to be.
CMo+DMn is accordingly an insurance policy. Whether an insurance policy was indeed necessary is only known after the insured period has elapsed. But in this case, since the insurance policy would cost nothing but a consensus from Harvard on upgrading to CMo+DMn, I think Harvard has nothing to lose and everything to gain if it upgrades now, from the outset, rather than waiting for the three year trial period to elapse, and another three years of research usage and impact to be needlessly lost, as NIH did.
The following is not from Peter's blog posting but from an off-line email exchange (reproduced with permission):
Peter Suber (email): "I'd have no objection to the addition of [a DMn] mandate (indeed, I'd be among the first to call for the addition of such a mandate) if it would improve upon the procedures Harvard puts in place to make the deposits itself."CMo+DMn would not only improve on the implementation of the submission and deposit process, but -- incomparably more important -- it would improve on the deposit rate, the OA rate, and the almost-OA rate! All the gains would be from the (unknown) percentage of authors who would opt out of the present CMo-only mandate. And CMo+DMn would not lose anything from what the present CMo-only mandate would generate from the authors (XX%) who would not opt out.
Peter Suber (email): However, it's certainly possible that if the original resolution had included a deposit mandate, it would not have been adopted by faculty. We'll never know."Peter, when you give your talk at Harvard's Berkman Center on March 17 (assuming that the CMo policy has not been miraculously upgraded to CMo+DMn in the meanwhile!), would you consider explicitly raising the following three questions:
Because if CMo+DMn was not even considered in the Harvard FAS deliberations -- or if it was not adopted because of concern that a policy without an opt-out would not be complied with -- then it might be helpful to point out to your hosts (1) Alma's Swan's international, cross-discipline author survey results, which found that 95% of researchers report they would comply with an OA self-archiving mandate from their universities or their funders (81% of them willingly); and (2) Arthur Sale's comparative studies on actual author behaviour, which confirmed that the OA self-archiving rates for universities with an OA self-archiving mandate (with no opt-out!) approach 80-100% within 2 years of adoption, whereas universities where deposit is not mandatory languish at deposit rates of c. 15%.(i) Was Harvard's successful consensus on adopting CMo reached because of the "C" (Copyright Retention) or the "o" (the option to opt out)?
With CMo+DMn Harvard has nothing to lose and everything to gain. Perhaps if this is made sufficiently clear now, an immediate upgrade is still possible, rather than having to wait for a 3-year trial period to decide (as with the first, failed NIH policy).
American Scientist Open Access Forum
Thursday, February 21. 2008
Commentary on: Zoe Corbyn "Low compliance with open-access rule criticised" Times Higher Education Supplement 21 February 2008A study of the compliance rate for the Wellcome Trust's Green Open Access Self Archiving Mandate presented at the 2008 Boston AAAS meeting reported a self-archiving rate of around 30% eight months after the policy came into effect. This is considerably higher than the NIH non-mandate's 4% rate (recently upgraded to a mandate), and it is above the overall 5-15% spontaneous baseline rate for self-archiving, but it is not clear whether it is climbing as high or as fast as the compliance rate for institutional mandates (approaching 80-100% within 2 years). If it is not, then this is yet another reason for mandating institutional rather than central deposit, and deposit by the author rather than by the author-or-publisher. That way each institution can add its own weight to the funder mandates, and can monitor compliance.
(1) The spontaneous baseline rate for unmandated OA self-archiving is between 5% and 15%, depending on field. Anything above that is an improvement.
(2) Arthur Sale's analyses comparing deposit rates for mandated and unmandated Institutional Repositories (IRs) show that (2a) unmandated deposits hover between 5-15%, (2b) encouraged and incentivized deposits climb toward 30% but not much higher, whereas (2c) mandated deposits approach 80-100% within about two years of adoption of the mandate.
(3) Sale's data are for author self-archiving, in the author's own institutional repository (IR), mandated and monitored by the author's own institution.
(4) The funder mandates have not been in place long enough for a good estimate of their rate of success, but three things are already evident:
(4a) A researcher's funder is not in as good a position to monitor and enforce compliance with a self-archiving mandate as a researcher's institution is: Institutions conduct annual reviews of their employees' publication output and can easily determine whether or not articles are deposited in their own IR. Funders do not conduct such annual publication audits (though they could).The solution is quite obvious: Funders should not be mandating deposit in central repositories, such as PubMed Central. They should be mandating deposit in the author's own Institution's Repository (from which central indexing services or central repositories like PubMed Central can harvest it). And the depositing should be done by the author, not the publisher. That way the author's institution can systematically monitor and enforce compliance, feeding back to the funder; and the central repository need merely harvest the deposits from the distributed IRs, if it wishes.
It was absurd all along to insist on central self-archiving, in the age of OAI-compliant, interoperable IRs, designed specifically in order to facilitate central harvesting! It was also absurd to have institutional and funder mandates pulling in different directions, toward different repositories, instead of pooling resources and collaborating, as funders and institutions do in all other respects.
Perhaps most relevant to Wellcome's apparently slow rate of compliance are the exciting recent developments concerning the Sleeping Giant of Open Access: the Institutions (Universities, mostly), and their actual and future self-archiving mandates:
There are now 22 funder mandates (including, recently, NIH) and 16 institutional and departmental mandates (including, even more recently, Harvard) plus the unanimous recommendation of the Council of the European Universities Association that its 791 universities in 46 countries should adopt OA self-archiving mandates.
Institutions are the providers of all research output -- funded and unfunded -- in all disciplines. It makes no sense for funders to mandate that the researchers they fund should deposit directly in arbitrary central repositories. The rational, coherent way to mandate OA -- the one that will systematically scale up to cover 100% of research output, across all disciplines, worldwide -- is for both funders and institutions to mandate institutional deposit, and then for institutions to monitor compliance (as part of the conditions for receiving the funder's grant in the first place!).
In sum, Wellcome's mandate compliance rate may be coming along, it's too early to say; but funders need to get compliance and fulfillment conditions in place. The most efficient and practical way to do that is to collaborate with their own fundees' institutions (who are usually co-recipients of the grants anyway), to make sure they monitor compliance; deposit should be by the author, in the author's own institution's IR (then PubMed Central and any other central service can harvest from there).
This will create a systematic synergy between funder and institution mandates, and ensure that they facilitate one another and converge (on the institutionally mandated and monitored IRs) rather than diverging willy-nilly, somewhere in an arbitrary array of criss-crossing IRs and/or CRs.
Wednesday, February 20. 2008
Some Journals (Alas) Still Demand Exclusive Copyright Transfer
I think I understand fully what Michael Carroll, Peter Suber and the current draft of the Harvard Policy are saying. My shorthand descriptor -- "copyright retention" -- captures precisely the feature of the Harvard policy that should, I urge, be modified (ever so slightly).
Many journals currently require authors to transfer exclusive rights to the publisher in exchange for publication.
Let me hasten to add: I think this is deplorable. I don't think authors should have to do it. And I am certain publishers will cease to make this a condition of publication once OA prevails: some have already ceased demanding it.
But some have not. And among the some who have not are some of the journals that authors (including Harvard authors) most want to publish in.
And that's the point: In order to be able to grant Harvard the license that the current Harvard OA Mandate requires, Harvard authors would have to successfully renegotiate the retention of their rights (i.e., they must negotiate a non-exclusive license) with those journals. (Under the transfer of exclusive rights to the publisher, it is not the author to whom users must apply to seek permission or license for the sorts of re-use rights that the Harvard author's addendum asks authors to transfer to Harvard -- it is to the publisher, the holder of all exclusive rights.)
And if the journal is their journal of choice, and the negotiation is unsuccessful, then the Harvard author must either opt out of the Harvard mandate or not publish in his journal of choice.
And that's exactly what my recommended amendment is intended to avert: by requiring deposit independently of requiring copyright retention (or reservation, or renegotiation). Then the opt-out can be from the copyright renegotiation requirement only, and not from the deposit requirement too.
This preserves all the virtues and intended benefits of the current Harvard mandate, and adds the further benefit of 100% deposit, with no opt-out.
(Access to two thirds of those deposits can then immediately be set as Open Access, because their journals already officially endorse it; and the remaining third can be set to Closed Access for the time being, with the Institutional Repository's semi-automatic "email eprint request" ["Fair Use"] button providing almost-immediate almost-OA during any access embargo period -- until the growing OA ushers in the natural, inevitable and well-deserved death of access embargoes as well as exclusive copyright transfer.)
But co-bundle the Harvard mandate instead with the copyright retention requirement, and its opt-out clause, and it is hardly even a mandate at all, its probability of success, deposit rate, and adoptability by other universities is diminished -- all needlessly, with no corresponding gain, just a loss.
Upgrade Harvard's Opt-Out Copyright Retention Mandate By Adding a No-Opt-Out Deposit Mandate: No Loss, Only Gain
Michael Carroll, Peter Suber and I are in complete agreement on every point of substance save one: What is the mandate that is the most likely to generate the most OA?
Michael and Peter (and Harvard!) think it is a Copyright Retention Mandate with opt-out (CRM). I think it is a Deposit Mandate without opt-out (DM), which can be trivially added to the Copyright Retention Mandate with opt-out (CRM).
In other words, Harvard can have its (CRM) cake, and eat it (DR) too!
That contingency is completely missing in Michael's analysis of my proposal.
Michael points out that even if a Harvard author opts out of CRM, he can still deposit his article if he wishes to.
But if voluntary deposit -- just for the sake of the benefits of OA, or just because one's university or funder had invited deposit -- had been capable of generating enough OA, then (1) mandates would not have proved necessary, (2) NIH's invitation policy would not have failed and would not now have had to be upgraded to an immediate deposit mandate, and (3) the hundreds of institutional repositories with invitations instead of mandates worldwide would not be hovering for years at spontaneous deposit rates of 5-15% while the (still few) mandated repositories approach 100% within two years.
An opt-out mandate is not a mandate. That is why I urge that the Harvard opt-out CRM mandate be upgraded to add a non-opt-out DM clause. Absolutely nothing is lost, and a great deal is gained.
For the papers whose authors can and do opt for CRM, Harvard will have immediate OA. For the papers whose authors opt out of CRM, Harvard will still have 100% immediate deposit, with immediate OA for about two thirds of it and almost-OA for the remaining third.
(Even if it is assumed that the articles for which the authors opt for CRM are identical to the deposits that could have been set to immediate OA anyway, there is still the gain of one third almost-OA and 100% deposit with DM+CRM but not with CRM alone.)
I hope that makes the logic and the contingencies of my proposal still clearer. I might add that exactly the same logic was used in designing the ID/OA (immediate-deposit, optional-access) mandate itself (the one Peter calls the Dual Deposit/Release mandate):
There the logic was that if an institution could not reach agreement on adopting the stronger immediate OA mandate (for copyright reasons, say), then it makes no sense to adopt a delayed-deposit mandate, or, worse, an opt-out "mandate," which allows the publisher's embargo policy to determine that date at which the deposit is made:
It makes far more sense to mandate immediate deposit in every instance, with the publisher's embargo policy applicable only to the date on which the deposit is made OA ("released"), thereby allowing almost-OA to tide over the embargo, thanks to the Button.
Last point: my position would be closest to Michael Carroll's option "(c) even if they would marginally improve scholalry communication, the costs of negotiating copyright with publishers is not worth this benefit" -- except that it is not exactly the benefits of OA I am talking about here but the benefits of a successful OA mandate. (Because every opt-out means no OA.)
Once immediate deposit is safely mandated universally, and it has generated free online access for researchers worldwide to all refereed postprints, we can examine at our leisure what else researchers needed that didn't already come with that free online territory.
But please, let's get there first, and not be held back by pre-emptively over-reaching (and thus inviting opt-out) when 100% free online access is already within our grasp -- if only we manage to mandate the keystrokes!
Thursday, February 14. 2008
Terry Martin (Law Librarian and Professor of Law, Harvard Law School) wrote in the American Scientist Open Access Forum:
Terry, the Harvard OA Mandate is potentially so important that I hope both political sense and pragmatism still have time to prevail, so as to remedy the few but fundamental flaws in the current draft Mandate.Stevan, I'm sure your version is preferable to the one actually passed by FAS. Some of us urged a more forceful approach. However, those with a better political sense thought otherwise.
The irony is that the Harvard Mandate needs a less forceful approach, not a more forceful one, in order to be much more powerful and effective.
Remedying Flaws in the NIH and Harvard OA Mandates. An analogy with the history of the NIH OA policy is especially instructive and revealing here: The original draft of that NIH policy also had (three) fundamental flaws -- (1) that it was not a mandate (it was a request rather than a requirement), (2) that it allowed deposit itself to be delayed as long as a year, and (3) that it insisted on direct central deposit (in PubMed Central) instead of deposit in the author's own university's Institutional Repository (IR) (and then central harvesting to PubMed Central).
The NIH policy failed, completely, but it took three years to realize and remedy this failure. The remedy was (1) to upgrade the NIH policy to a mandate and (2) to require immediate -- not delayed -- deposit (allowing an embargo of up to one year, but applicable only to the date at which access to the deposit was set as OA; the deposit itself had to be immediate).
(The NIH insistence on central deposit (3), instead of institutional deposit and central harvesting, has not yet been remedied. But Harvard's institutional mandate, if its own flaws can be corrected so its policy can be adopted by all universities, US and worldwide, will also remedy this last of the three NIH mandate's flaws.)
Four years ago I went to Washington to try to explain to Norka Ruiz Bravo's group at NIH exactly how and why the three small but crucial changes (1)-(3) in the draft NIH policy needed to be made if it was to succeed. It was decided not to heed the advice, and to go ahead and adopt the draft policy as it was. As a result, three more years of NIH research access and impact were then lost, needlessly. (And during those three years, all the biomedical funders on the planet were reflexively imitating the failed NIH policy!)
Mandate Immediate Deposit. Now NIH has it almost right. The two most important corrections have been made: (1) It is now upgraded to a requirement rather than just a request, and the (2) requirement is for immediate deposit, not delayed deposit. That's called the Immediate-Deposit/Optional-Access (ID/OA) mandate.
(The access embargo is applicable only to the date of OA-setting, not the date of deposit -- which is just fine, because of the potential power of repositories' automatized "email eprint request" Buttons to fulfill all research usage needs for Closed Access deposits during any embargo interval).
The one remaining flaw in the NIH mandate is the one that the right mandate from Harvard now would help to remedy:
Mandate Institutional Deposit. Funder and University OA Mandates need to be complementary and convergent. NIH still insists on mandating direct central deposit in PubMed Central -- instead of reinforcing and building upon university mandates; it should instead likewise mandate deposit in each author's own University Institution Repository (IR). (From there, PubMed Central -- and any other central repository or indexer -- could harvest the deposits, with the author needing only to provide NIH with the URL!). Universities and research institutions are, after all, the providers of all research output, both funded and unfunded.
A realistic, viable mandate from Harvard now would be taken up by all universities worldwide. And it would ensure that funder mandates, too, would begin stipulating direct, convergent deposit in authors' own University IRs, instead of divergent deposit, helter-skelter, in diverse CRs. Then any central collections and indexes we desire could automatically be harvested (or exported) from the worldwide distributed network of OA IRs -- using the OAI metadata-harvesting protocol, with which all IRs are compliant, and which was created for that specific purpose.
Funder/University Collaboration to Make All Research Output OA. Then universities and research institutions will not only be able to help funders implement and monitor compliance with the funders' self-archiving mandates (as part of their fulfillment conditions for receiving the institutional overheads from those grants): They will also be able to complement and universalize those funder OA mandates (which only cover the self-archiving of funded research output) with (Harvard-style) institutional OA mandates of their own, for self-archiving all of their institutional research output, both funded and unfunded. That is the natural synergy that will systematically scale up to make all of the planet's research output OA -- across all disciplines, institutions, languages and nations.
Mandating Copyright-Retention is a Needless Deterrent. But if NIH's mistake had been to make its mandate too weak (only (1) a request, with (2) an allowable year-long delay in deposit), Harvard's mistake now is needlessly making its mandate too strong, thereby necessitating the further addition of a compensatory "opt-out" clause -- which in turn makes the Harvard policy needlessly weak (indeed, no longer a mandate at all)!
The reason Harvard had to add its opt-out clause is obvious: Otherwise the policy would have faced a predictable (and justified) author revolt: (That is the sense in which "better political sense" prevailed!)
It is one thing to demand that the article be deposited in Harvard's IR. That just costs a few keystrokes, and brings palpable benefits to the author and institution. But it's quite another thing to demand that the author accept the risk of failure to successfully negotiate copyright retention with his journal of choice, and thereby being forced to publish in a lesser journal.
An Opt-Out Mandate Is Not a Mandate. (Whether or not this risk is real, it is definitely a reasonable, perceived risk for publish-or-perish authors, even at Harvard, and hence a risk that rightly obliged those with "better political sense" at Harvard to add the opt-out clause. Without the opt-out clause it is unlikely that the policy motion could have passed at all.)
But with an opt-out clause, a mandate is no longer a mandate: it's just a request! And the reason the NIH request had failed was that it had been just a request rather than a mandate!
Allow Opt-Out Only From Copyright Retention. The right remedy is hence to modularize the Harvard mandate, so as separately (a) to require immediate deposit, with no opt-out, and also (b) to request/require copyright-retention -- but to allow an opt-out from the latter.
Copyright Retention Is Desirable But Unnecessary for OA. In reality, for at least 62% of refereed postprints and a further 29% of pre-refereeing preprints, there is no need for copyright retention at all in order to provide OA because this 91% of journals have already officially endorsed immediate OA self-archiving in one form or the other.
(Online access, free for all, by the way, moots all of the other uses for the sake of which authors -- and lawyers and librarians -- imagine that copyright would need to be retained and licensed: Virtually all the other uses already come with the territory, once a paper is made free online; and whatever doesn't, soon will, once all papers are made free online.)
To fulfill all immediate research usage needs for any of the articles from those journals that have not yet endorsed immediate OA self-archiving (38% for postprints, 9% for preprints), the IRs will all have the semi-automatic almost-immediate, almost-OA Button.
(This will not only provide for all immediate usage needs during any embargoes, but it will also soon bring the rest of the journal policies into line with those that already endorse immediate OA self-archiving, under mounting pressure from the worldwide research community's growing experience with -- and increasing reliance and eventual insistence upon -- the palpable benefits of OA, thanks to the growing number of mandates.)
Weaken the Harvard OA Mandate To Strengthen It. So nothing is lost by weakening the Harvard policy, as recommended, so as to make immediate deposit mandatory, with no opt-out, allowing opt-out only on the (unnecessary) requirement to retain copyright.
Eliminate Need For Opt-Out Loophole. In the current draft of its mandate, by bundling the two together, and allowing opt-out on the entire package, Harvard instead gets the worst of both: the author deterrent effect of insisting on copyright retention, plus the resultant loophole from Harvard authors simply choosing to opt out of depositing altogether.
Harvard's rationale was that its authors, if they have to opt out paper by paper, will find it too tiresome to keep opting out, and will prefer to try to renegotiate copyright with their journals instead. Much more likely, authors will draft standard form letters for the Provost's office saying "The right journal for this work is journal X, and journal X does not allow copyright retention, so I regret but I must opt out for this work.").
An opt-out letter is ar easier (and more likely of success) than the (real and apparent) risks of trying to renegotiate copyright. And the Provost's Office is certainly in no position to argue with Harvard authors on the appropriate outlet for their work.
Authors Will Not Deposit Unless Mandated. Journals would no doubt be quite pleased if Harvard decided to over-reach and needlessly mandate copyright retention, with opt-out, instead of just mandating immediate deposit, without opt-out:
That way the journals that have endorsed immediate OA self-archiving could appear progressive on OA, confident that absent a deposit mandate very few authors bother to self-archive spontaneously (as the first NIH policy and many other non-mandatory policies have repeatedly shown: indeed, that was exactly what gave rise to the deposit mandate movement).
So because the current wording of the Harvard policy does not mandate the deposit itself, but only the copyright retention, along with the option of opting out, the journals can again count on most authors taking the path of least resistance: opting out. (Publishers are already singing the praises of this opt-out option as "author choice.")
Don't Wait Three Years to Correct the Flaws, as NIH Did. As with the failed NIH policy, if Harvard does not upgrade its policy now, it will take three years to confirm empirically that the draft policy has failed.
Yet Harvard's mandate is so easy to fix pre-emptively now, with no loss at all in any of its intended effects, only the gain of a far greater likelihood of compliance and more OA. The ground has already been tested by other universities who have as already adopted a deposit mandate.
There Are Already 37 Successful Deposit Mandates. It is not even clear why Harvard feels it needs to independently re-invent the OA-mandate wheel, when there are 15 successful university mandates and 22 successful funder mandates adopted already, not one of them needing to mandate copyright retention or to allow opt-out. All that is needed is for Harvard to adopt ID/OA, and all the other universities of the world would follow suit!
The notion that copyright retention is the solution to the research accessibility problem is far from new: It was prominently mooted a decade ago in Science magazine by 12 co-authors and has gotten precisely nowhere since then, despite being repeatedly revived, notionally, in university after university, by either the library or legal staff, year after year.
Copyright Retention is a Needless, Disabling Deterrent. The reason requiring copyright retention is a nonstarter is that it contains a gratuitous, disabling deterrent: needlessly putting at risk the actual and perceived probability of being accepted by the author's journal of choice. Hence the need to allow opt-out, which in turn effectively reduces any mandate to a mere request.
An ID/OA mandate does not have that deterrent. Deposit mandates have already been demonstrated, repeatedly, to successfully approach 100% compliance within two years of adoption. ID/OA does not require copyright retention, nor an opt-out clause.
Deposit Mandate Will Eventually Lead to Copyright Retention Too; But OA First! And, most ironically of all, ID/OA will almost certainly lead, eventually, to copyright retention too! But to do that, it must first reach 100% OA. And universal Deposit Mandates will ensure that.
Needlessly attempting instead to impose the stronger mandate first will not.
I hope Harvard will make the small parametric adjustments needed to maximize the likelihood that its historic mandate will succeed, and will be emulated by all other universities worldwide.
I close with a re-posting of the specific small but crucial changes in the wording of the mandate that are needed to prevent the copyright-retention requirement from compromising the deposit requirement.
Current Draft of Harvard OA Mandate. First, here is the draft Harvard OA mandate as it now stands. [passages that are flagged for modification are in brackets]:
Text of Motion on behalf of the Provostís Committee on Scholarly Publishing:Proposed Revised Draft. Now here are the small but crucial changes that will immunize the deposit requirement against any opt-outs from the copyright-retention requirement. Note the re-ordering of the clauses, and the addition of the underscored passages. (Other universities may also omit the two indented clauses preceded by asterisk ** if they wish):
Proposed revision:Stevan Harnad
American Scientist Open Access Forum
Wednesday, February 13. 2008
Absent any new information (or amendments) to the contrary, Harvard University's Faculty of Arts and Sciences on Tuesday February 12 adopted the world's 38th Green Open Access Self-Archiving Mandate -- the 16th of the institutional or departmental mandates.
An OA mandate from Harvard is especially significant, timely and welcome for the worldwide Open Access movement, as Harvard will of course be widely emulated, and many other universities are now proposing to adopt OA mandates.
The objective of the Harvard (Faculty of Arts and Sciences) mandate is to provide Open Access (OA) to its own scholarly article output. This objective is accomplished by making those articles freely accessible on the web by depositing them in a Harvard OA Institutional Repository.
The means of attaining this objective is to mandate OA, which Harvard has now done. But Harvard has gone further, and mandated copyright retention as well. Copyright retention is highly desirable and welcome, but it is not necessary in order to provide OA, and mandating copyright retention has also necessitated the adoption of an opt-out clause because of potential author resistance to perceived or actual constraints on their choice of which journal to publish in.
What follows below is a recommendation for a few small but crucial changes in the wording of the mandate. They are designed to prevent the copyright-retention requirement from compromising the deposit requirement (thereby causing the Harvard OA Mandate to fail, as the original NIH policy failed, until its flaws were corrected three years later).
First, here is the draft Harvard OA mandate as it now stands. [passages that are flagged for modification are in brackets]:
Text of Motion on behalf of the Provostís Committee on Scholarly Publishing:Now here are the small but crucial changes that will immunize the deposit requirement against any opt-outs from the copyright-retention requirement. Note the re-ordering of the clauses, and the addition of the underscored passages. (Other universities may also omit the two indented clauses preceded by asterisk ** if they wish):
Proposed revision:Stevan Harnad
American Scientist Open Access Forum
Tuesday, February 12. 2008
It is a great (and widespread) mistake to treat the problems of (1) journal overpricing, (2) publishing reform, and (3) copyright reform as if they were all the same thing as the problem of (4) research access. They are not. Open Access (OA) to research can be provided, quickly, easily, and directly, without first having to solve (1)-(3). And, once provided, OA can help pave the way toward solving (1)-(3). But conflate OA with (1)-(3) from the outset, and all you do is delay and handicap OA.Harvard faculty are voting today on an Open Access (OA) Self-Archiving Mandate Proposal.
The Harvard proposal is to try the opyright-retention strategy: Retain copyright so faculty can (among other things) deposit their writings in Harvard's OA Institutional Repository.
Let me try to say why I think this is the wrong strategy, whereas something not so different from it would not only have much greater probability of success, but would serve as a model that would generalize much more readily to the worldwide academic community.
[Note: The first two concerns I raised yesterday have since proved unfounded: [I had not yet seen the exact wording of the motion when I first posted this on Tuesday.] The mandate -- successfully adopted Tuesday afternoon -- applies only to articles, and only to the final, refereed draft of those articles. But the 3rd and principle concern (about mandatory copyright retention) stands.(3) Copyright Retention is Unnecessary for OA and Needlessly Handicaps Both the Probability of Adoption of the Policy and the Probability of Success If Adopted. Copyright retention is always welcome wherever it is desired and successfully negotiated by the author. But there is no need to require retention of copyright in order to provide OA.
Sixty-two percent of journals already officially endorse authors making their postprints OA immediately upon acceptance for publication by depositing them in their Institutional Repository, and a further 30% already endorse making preprints OA. That already covers 92% of Harvard's intended target. For the remaining 8% (and indeed for 38%, because OA's primary target is postprints, not just preprints), they too can be deposited immediately upon acceptance for publication, with access set as "Closed Access" instead of Open Access. To provide for worldwide research usage needs for such embargoed papers, both the EPrints and the DSpace IR software now have an "email eprint request" button that allows any would-be user who reaches a Closed Access postprint to paste in his email address and click, which sends an immediate automatized email request to the author, containing a URL, on which the author need merely click to have an eprint automatically emailed to the requester. (Mailing article reprints to requesters has been standard academic practice for decades and is merely made more powerful, immediate, ubiquitous and effective with the help of email, an IR, and the semi-automatic button; it likewise does not require permission or copyright retention.)
This means that it is already possible to adopt a universal, exception-free mandate to deposit all postprints immediately upon acceptance for publication, without the author's having to decide whether or not to deposit the unrefereed preprint and whether or not to retain copyright (hence whether or not to opt out).
This blanket mandate provides immediate OA to at least 62% of OA's target content, and almost-immediate, almost-OA to the rest. This not only provides for all immediate usage needs for 100% of research output, worldwide, but it will soon usher in the natural and well-deserved death of the remaining minority of access embargoes under the growing global pressure from OA's and almost-OA's increasingly palpable benefits to research and researchers. (With it will come copyright retention too, as a matter of course.) It is also a policy with no legal problems, no author risk, and hence no need for loopholes and opt-outs.
Needlessly requiring authors instead to deposit their unrefereed preprints and to commit themselves to retaining copyright today puts at risk both the consensus for adoption -- [note that this first worry is now moot insofar as adoption by Harvard itself is concerned, because the Harvard mandate was successfully adopted!, but it still stands for adoption by other universities] -- and, if adopted, the efficacy of the Harvard policy itself at risk, because of author resistance either to exposing unrefereed work publicly or to putting their work's acceptance and publication by their journal of choice at risk. It also opens up an opt-out loophole that is likely to reduce the policy compliance rate to minority levels for years, just as did NIH's initial, unsuccessful non-mandate (since upgraded to an immediate deposit mandate), with the needless loss of 3 more years of research usage and impact.
I strongly urge Harvard to reconsider, and to adopt the Immediate-Deposit/Optional-Access mandate (ID/OA) that is now being adopted by a growing number of universities and research funders worldwide, instead of the copyright-retention policy now being contemplated.
American Scientist Open Access Forum
Friday, February 8. 2008
The Webometrics Ranking of World Universities has created a new Ranking of Repositories, but in the announcement, a few salient points are overlooked:
Yes, as noted, the three first ranks go to "thematic" (i.e., discipline- or or subject-based) Central Repositories (CRs): (1) Arxiv (Physics), (2) Repec (Economics) and (3) E-Lis (Library Science). That is to be expected, because such CRs are fed from institutions all over the world.
But the fourth-ranked repository -- and the first of the university-based Institutional Repositories (IRs), displaying only its own institutional output -- is (4) U Southampton EPrints (even though Southampton's University rank is 77th).
Moreover, the fifteenth place repository -- and the first of the department-based IRs -- is (15) U Southampton ECS EPrints (making it 10th ranked even relative to university-wide IRs!).
None of this is surprising: In 2000 Southampton created the world's first free, OAI-compliant IR-creating software -- EPrints -- now used (and imitated) worldwide.
But Southampton's ECS also adopted the world's first Green OA self-archiving mandate, now also being emulated worldwide. And that first mandate was a departmental mandate, which partly explains the remarkably high rank of Southampton's ECS departmental IR.
But these repository rankings (by Webometrics as well as by ROAR) should be interpreted with caution, because not all the CRs and IRs contain full-texts. Some only contain metadata. Southampton's university-wide IR, although 4th among repositories and 1st among IRs, is still mostly just metadata, because the university-wide mandate that U. Southampton has since adopted still has not been officially announced or implemented (because the university had been preparing for the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise returns). As soon as the mandate is implemented, that will change. (Southampton's ECS departmental IR, in contrast, mandated since 2002, is already virtually 100% full-text.)
But the moral of the story is that what Southampton is right now enjoying is not just the well-earned visibility of its research output, but also a competitive advantage over other institutions, because of its head-start, both in creating IRs and in adopting a mandate to fill them. (This head-start is also reflected in Southampton's unusually high University Metrics "G Factor," and probably in its University Webometric rank too. Citebase is likewise constrained by who has and has not begun to systematically self-archive. And Citeseer has alas stopped updating as of about 2003.)
I am not saying all this by way of bragging! I am begging other institutions to take advantage of the fact that it's still early days: Get a competitive head start too -- by creating an IR, and, most important of all, by adopting a Green OA self-archiving mandate!
American Scientist Open Access Forum
Thursday, February 7. 2008
This article is rather out of date. The authors, B&P, note (correctly) that Institutional Repositories (IRs) did not fill spontaneously upon creation. But their article does not mention or take into account today's swelling tide of funder and university Green OA self-archiving mandates.
This oversight is perhaps partly because some of the most recent mandates (European Research Council, NIH, and the unanimous recommendation for a Green OA self-archiving mandate by the Council of the European University Association, with 791 universities in 46 countries) came after B&P's article -- which is very thin on citation or discussion of actual mandate progress or rationale -- went to press.
So, instead of supporting the current mandates for universities to fill their IRs with their own published research journal articles, B&P argue that universities should become Gold OA publishers of their own research output.
It is not clear whether each university, according to B&P, should become the in-house publisher of its own output (in which case one wonders about peer review and neutrality) or whether university presses should simply try to take over more of the existing journals from commercial and society publishers. Either way, Berkeley Press is here again recommending spontaneous Gold OA publishing reform (which, in terms of number of articles for which it has provided OA has been even slower than spontaneous Green OA self-archiving by authors).
Recommendations have proved resoundingly ineffective (across what will soon be a decade) in accelerating the transition to 100% OA, whether the recommendation has been to publishers to convert to Gold OA or to authors to provide Green OA to what they have published.
Mandates, in contrast, have consistently proved highly effective, in every instance where they were adopted, and mandates are now growing rapidly. Researchers comply, and comply willingly. It is apparent that mandates play the role of welcome facilitation, not unwelcome coercion, serving to allay author fears about copyright and author uncertainty about priorities.
But Gold OA cannot be mandated: Only Green OA can be.
So advocates of Gold OA are advised to be patient, and to allow Green OA mandates to have their beneficial effect, generating 100% OA. Then we can talk about whether, when and how to convert journals to Gold OA. Not before.
As to advice to universities on how to make better use of their IRs in managing and showcasing their research assets: for a much more current and realistic article, see:
Swan, A. and Carr, L. (2008) Institutions, their repositories and the Web. Serials Review, 34 (1) (in press).Stevan Harnad
American Scientist Open Access Forum
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