Tuesday, May 27. 2008
There is no such thing as "provostial publishing" (Esposito 2008). There is only peer-reviewed publishing and non-peer-reviewed publishing. And the peer review itself can vary in rigor and selectivity: The quality standards and track records of journals differ.
Journals also differ in whether or not they make their articles accessible for free online. If they do, this is called Gold Open Access (OA) Publishing. Otherwise it is ordinary, non-OA publishing.
Non-OA publishers differ in whether or not they give their "green light" to authors to make their own articles OA (accessible free online) by self-archiving them in their Institutional Repositories. When articles have been made OA by their authors through self-archiving, this is called Green OA.
If provosts mandate that their authors self-archive their published articles, that too is called Green OA -- but not Green OA publishing, of course, because it is the journal that publishes and the author merely self-archives, to provide (Green) OA to his own article.
The author may also self-archive articles published in non-peer-reviewed journals; this too is access-provision, not publication. The publisher is again the non-peer-reviewed journal that published the articles.
The author can also self-archive unpublished papers. Legally speaking, this counts as "publishing," but of course in an academic ("publish or perish") CV the author cannot list such a paper as "published" (let alone as peer-reviewed). It is listed (and cited) as "unpublished."
In all of this, there is no such a thing as "provostial publishing" -- though provosts who mandate self-archiving might perhaps be honored, by calling this "provostial access-provision" (though the author does the keystrokes)...
American Scientist Open Access Forum
Monday, May 26. 2008
In a letter to Nature 453, 450 (22 May 2008) Raghavendra Gadagkar, Centre for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, writes:
"The traditional 'publish for free and pay to read' business model adopted by publishers of academic journals can lead to disparity in access to scholarly literature, exacerbated by rising journal costs and shrinking library budgets. However, although the 'pay to publish and read for free' business model of open-access publishing has helped to create a level playing field for readers, it does more harm than good in the developing world..."It is easy to guess what else this (closed access) letter says: That at the prices currently charged by those Gold OA publishers that charge for Gold OA publishing today, it is unaffordable to most researchers as well as to their institutions and funders in India and elsewhere in the Developing World.
This is a valid concern, even in view of the usual reply (which is that (1) many Gold OA journals do not charge a fee, and that (2) exceptions are made by those journals that do charge a fee, for those authors who cannot afford to pay it). The concern is that current Gold OA fees would not scale up equitably if they became universal, making publishing impossible for some.
However, the overall concern is misplaced. The reasoning is that whereas access-denial to users today because of unaffordable subscription fees to the user-institution is bad, publication-denial to authors because of unaffordable Gold OA publishing fees to the author-institution would be worse.
But this leaves out Green OA self-archiving of published research, and the Green OA mandates to self-archive that are now being adopted by universities (such as Harvard) and research funders (such as NIH) in growing numbers (now 44 worldwide, and many more under way).
Not only does Green OA cost next to nothing to provide, but once it becomes universal, if it ever does go on to generate universal subscription cancellations too, making the subscription model of publishing cost recovery unsustainable, then universal Green OA will also by the very same token generate the release of the annual windfall user-institution subscription cancellation savings out of which to pay the costs of publishing on the Gold OA (author-institution pays) cost-recovery model.
The natural question to ask next is: Will user-institution costs and author-institution costs will balance out, if universal Green OA leads to universal Gold OA? Or will those institutions that had used more research than they provided benefit while those institutions that had provided more research than they used will lose out?
This would be a reasonable question to ask (and has been asked before) -- except that it is a fundamental mistake to assume that the costs of publishing would remain the same under the conditions of universal Green OA.
It is far more realistic to expect that if and when journals (both their print editions and their online PDF editions) are no longer in demand -- because users are all instead using the authors' OA postprints, self-archived in their IRs, rather than the publisher's proprietary version -- that journals will convert to Gold OA not under the current terms of Gold OA (where journals still provide most of the products and services of conventional journal publishing, apart from the print edition), but under substantially scaled-down terms.
Harnad, S. (2007) The Green Road to Open Access: A Leveraged Transition. In: The Culture of Periodicals from the Perspective of the Electronic Age. L'Harmattan, pp. 99-105.In particular, all the current costs of providing both the print edition and the PDF edition, as well as all current costs of access-provision and archiving will vanish (for the publisher), because those functions have been off-loaded onto the distributed network of Green OA IRs, each hosting its own peer-reviewed, published postprint output. The only service that the peer-reviewed journal publisher will still need to provide is peer review itself.
That is why Richard Poynder's recent query (about the true cost of peer review alone) is a relevant one.
As I have said many times before, based on my own experience of editing a peer-reviewed journal for a quarter century, as well as the estimates that can be made from the costs of Gold OA journals that provide only peer review and nothing else today, the costs per paper of peer review alone will be so much lower than the costs per paper of conventional journal publishing today, or even the costs per paper of most Gold OA publishing today, that the problem of the possibility of imbalance between net user-institution costs and net author-institution costs will vanish, just as the the subscription model vanished.
Alma Swan has forwarded the link to a JISC-funded study of such questions being conducted by John Houghton (Australia) and Charles Oppenheim (UK) (in the context of UK research, where there are, I assure you, author-institutions that are every bit as worried about current Gold OA publishing fees as Developing World institutions are) Alma also drew attention to a study just released by RIN.
Peter Suber has pointed to Fytton Rowland's 2002 estimates of the cost of peer review alone:
Rowland, F. (2002) The Peer Review Process. Learned Publishing, 15(4) 247-58.Peter writes:
"Rowland does a literature survey to determine the costs of peer review (see Section 5). He concludes (Section 7) that it's about $200 per submitted paper, or $400 per published paper at a journal with a rejection rate of 50%.I would add that even at $400 per paper, that would make peer review alone cost only 10% of the average price of $4000 that Andrew Odlyzko estimated was being paid per article in 1997 (i.e., the total collective contribution summed across subscribing institutions) and less than a third of most Gold OA publishing fees per article today.
Odlyzko, A. (1997) The economics of Electronic Journals. First Monday 2(8)Stevan Harnad
American Scientist Open Access Forum
Sunday, May 25. 2008
Peter Murray-Rust continues to misunderstand, and hence misrepresent OA. The picture is a lot simpler than Peter makes it sound. Here's a simple glossary:
1. Research Data vs. Research Articles:
Data: Research generates raw data.
2. OA1 (Free Access) vs OA2 (Free Re-Use):
OA1: Articles made accessible/useable free online for users who do not have subscription access to the journal in which they are published.(There is only one OA1 but there are several degrees of OA2, depending on which re-uses are licensed.)
3. The Green vs. Gold Roads to OA:
Green OA: Authors make their articles and/or their data OA1 or OA2 by self-archiving them online.Green OA self-archiving by authors, mandated by their universities or funders, can in principle provide OA1 or OA2, for either articles or data or both. However, it would be difficult, resisted by many authors, and probably unjust for universities to mandate Green OA1 for data or to mandate Green OA2 for either articles or data. (Funders are in a position to mandate more.)
Researchers may not want to make their data either freely accessible/useable or re-usable, and they may not want to make their articles freely re-useable. However, all researchers, without exception, want their articles freely accessible/usable (OA1).
This is the reason Green OA1 mandates are the highest priority. Authors all want Green OA1 and they report that they will comply, willingly (see Swan studies) and actually do comply (see Sale studies) with Green OA1 mandates from their universities and funders to self-archive their articles.
Moreover, OA1 for articles prepares the way and is likely to lead to OA1 and OA2 for data, as well as to some OA2 for articles.
That is why Green OA1 self-archiving and Green OA1 self-archiving mandates should be assigned priority.
Peter Murray-Rust, who is concerned exclusively with OA2 (re-useability) for both articles and data, persistently misunderstands much of this, especially the practical causal path and its attendant priorities.
Here are the kinds of misunderstandings that keep recurring in Peter's discussion of Green OA1 [translations are provided in brackets]:
PMR: "Green Open Access [OA1 to articles] is irrelevant to Open Data [OA1 or OA2 to data] (I think it makes it harder, others disagree)."No, OA1 to articles is not irrelevant, either to OA1 to articles or data, or to OA2 (licensed re-use rights) to articles and data. Nor does OA1 make it harder to achieve OA2 (for articles or data). But it would certainly make it harder to achieve Green OA1 for articles through Green OA1 mandates if we tried pre-emptively to insist on OA2 instead, or first.
PMR: "There is no explicit mention in the GreenOA upload model [Green OA1 to articles] for items other than the “full-text” [data]."There is no "GreenOA upload model" but there is Green OA1 self-archiving of articles, and Green OA1 mandates to self-archive articles. Data and OA2 can certainly be mentioned in these mandates, but they cannot be mandated (because not all authors wish to provide OA1 to their data, or OA2 to their articles or data, whereas all authors wish to provide OA1 to their articles (even if it needs to be mandated to get them to actually do it!).
PMR: "The primary goal of Stevan Harnad - expressed frequently to me and others - is that we should strive for 100% GOA [mandated Green OA1 to articles]compliance and that discussions on Open Data, licences and other matters [OA2 to articles, OA1 or OA2 to data] are a distraction and are harmful to the GOA process."What is distracting and harmful for getting consensus and compliance on Green OA1 mandates, hence for getting OA1 to articles, is not the discussion of OA2 or of data, but the suggestion that it is not enough to mandate OA1 to articles. The time to insist on more than Green OA1 mandates is when Green OA1 is already faithfully mandated and provided, not before Green OA1 mandates have prevailed.
PMR: "if Open Data [OA2 to data] is irrelevant or inimical to GOA [OA1 to articles] then it is hard to see GOA [OA1 to articles] as supportive of Open Data [OA2 to data]."Pre-emptive insistence on OA2 to data (or articles) is inimical to achieving consensus and compliance on mandating OA1 to articles. Achieving OA1 to articles will certainly facilitate going on to achieve OA1 and OA2 to data as well as achieving some OA2 to articles.
PMR: "my main argument is that lack of support for Open Data in GOA [OA2 to data and articles] is potentially harmful to the Open Data movement [OA2 to data and articles]. Let’s assume that Stevan’s approach succeeds and we get 100% of papers in repositories through University mandates, funders et. al... [This] GOA [mandated OA1 to articles] will encourage the deposition of full-text only [articles, not data]"Green OA1 mandates can encourage OA1 to data and OA1 and OA2 to both articles and data, but they cannot mandate them, because all authors want OA1 for their articles but not all authors want OA1 for their data or OA2 for their articles and data. And pre-emptively insisting on more will only result in getting less (i.e., less consensus and compliance on OA1 for articles).
PMR: "So my major concern is that GreenOA [OA1 to articles] will lead to substandard processes for publishing scientific data. I’d be happy to find Repositories that insist on data upload [OA1 to data]."I would be happy if we had 100% OA1 and OA2 to both articles and data, but I know of no realistic way to achieve that, and certainly not directly, because it is not the case that 100% of authors want it already, in principle. But 100% of authors do want OA1 to their articles already, in principle, and they can and do provide that OA1 it in practice if it is mandated.
I find it hard to imagine that the universal practice of providing OA1 to articles can fail to strengthen the inclination to provide OA1 and OA2 to data and articles as well. On the other hand, it is easy to see how insisting pre-emptively on the latter could prevent even the former from coming into universal practice.
PMR: "a GreenOA paper [OA1] may often be a cut-down, impoverished, version of what is available - for a price - on the publishers website. It may, and usually will, lack the supporting information (supplemental data). It will probably not reproduce any permissions that the publisher actually allows. So - if we concern ourselves with matters other than human eyeballs and fulltext - it is almost certainly a poorer resource than the one on the publisher site."This point is truly perplexing. What is available on a (non-OA) publisher's website is not even OA1, so what is the point of talking about OA1's impoverishment to those would-be users who are not rich enough to afford the publisher's version?
And, yes, OA1 (free online access/use) is not OA2 (free online access/use and re-use licenses, to either article or data), because not all authors wish to provide OA2 to their articles or data, and Green OA1 mandates hence do not attempt to mandate it.
However, data too can certainly be self-archived in Institutional Repositories (IRs) if the author wishes, and IRs have the metadata tags for specifying re-use rights (OA2), if any, for all deposited articles and data.
PMR: "Many funders... require ultra-strong-OA for their archival... [OA2 to articles and data] And several [Gold OA2] publishers... also insist on CC-BY [OA2 to articles]. This is, of course, great for scientific data [OA2 to data]. But it’s a long way from GreenOA [OA1 to articles]."Yes, some funders can and do mandate more than OA1 to articles. He who pays the piper calls the tune -- so funders are in a better position to do this than universities are (and funders do not need authors' consensus or consent, as universities do, for the conditions they attach to receiving research funding). But so far that funder-mandated OA2 applies only to articles (and usually only after an embargo period), not to data (although funders could in principle mandate data self-archiving too, and eventually will, I hope).
What Gold OA publishers provide is another matter; the OA1 problem is the problem of the 90% of journals that are non-OA, not the 10% that are OA. (Moreover, most Gold OA journals, too, provide only OA1, as Peter Suber has pointed out, not OA2.)
PMR: "Even if the IRs contained all the data appropriate to the publications how do we discover it?"If authors self-archive their data, the IRs allow them both to link the data with the corresponding articles and to specify the re-uses licensed.
PMR: "GreenOA [OA1] is designed to be simple. Stevan Harnad argues that it can be accomplished with 'one-click'."No, it is not OA1 self-archiving that is one-click, it is almost-OA via the "Fair Use" Button -- for deposits that are not Open Access (OA1) Closed Access.
The deposit of the full-text itself takes under six minutes' worth of keystrokes, as described in
Carr, L., Harnad, S. and Swan, A. (2007) A Longitudinal Study of the Practice of Self-Archiving.Stevan Harnad
American Scientist Open Access Forum
Monday, May 19. 2008
Peter Murray-Rust is quite right that ACS is likely to be the very last of all publishers to go Green on OA self-archiving, but he is mistaken about most of the others on his list:Peter Murray-Rust: “Most chemistry publishing is closed access, not even allowing Green self-archiving (unless paid for). There is no sign that any of the major closed publishers (ACS, RSC, Wiley, Springer, Elsevier, Nature) are likely to change in the immediate future.”
(1) Pale-green means the publisher endorses the self-archiving of the author’s draft but not the final refereed postprint (though often what the publisher really means by the postprint is the publisher’s PDF).
The difference between the author’s penultimate draft and the final, refereed draft is of course a purely notional one, and no faintly coherent case for the distinction could ever be made in a court of law. So although some superstitious authors make a distinction between pale-green publishers and green publishers, of course there is in reality no substantive difference: Both have given their blessing to the self-archiving of the author’s final draft.
(Gray does indeed mean neither Gold nor Green. But Gold OA publishers are of course, a fortiori, also Green. So the only relevant distinction at issue is Green vs. not-Green.)
(2) The RSC has some right royal double-talk in its contracts. They say they endorse self-archiving on the author’s “personal website”, but not the author’s “institutional repository”:
“When the author signs the exclusive Licence to Publish for a journal article, he/she retains certain rights that may be exercised without reference to the RSC. He/she may…This is of course arbitrary gibberish, and again only for the credulous and the superstitious. All RSC authors can self-archive their final drafts in their own IRs with perfect impunity. A “personal website” is merely a disk sector label. For the pedant, the university can (as Southampton ECS has done since 2002) formally declare an author’s IR disk sector to be the author’s “personal website”:
“3e. Copyright agreements may state that eprints can be archived on your personal homepage. As far as publishers are concerned, the EPrint Archive is a part of the Department’s infrastructure for your personal homepage.”In a few years we will be giggling shame-facedly at the stuff and nonsense that kept (most of) us from going ahead and doing the optimal, inevitable and obvious for so long.
American Scientist Open Access Forum
Sunday, May 18. 2008
Sandy Thatcher [ST], President, American Association of University Publishers (AAUP) wrote in liblicense:
ST: "I wish I had as much faith as Stevan [Harnad] that the 'of course' follows from his preceding argument.Necessity is the Mother of Invention. The plain fact is that neither publishers nor universities are faced with this eventuality now. And there is certainly no need or justification for demanding that universities pre-empt it, by "committing" in advance to fund anything whatsoever, at this time.'And universities will of course use a portion of those windfall savings to pay the publication costs of their own research output.'"The cynic in me says that it is just as likely that universities will use the "windfall savings" to expand their football stadiums!
The academic rule -- and for research universities, it definitely trumps football fields, otherwise we are talking about the forces that trump research itself, and that goes far beyond the scope of this discussion -- is Publish or Perish. Today, in our still non-OA world, publishing is being paid for by the subscriber-university, not by the author-university (though they are largely the same university).
Hence, the only thing missing today is OA itself (and perhaps some more football fields) -- not some sort of advance commitment by each university that mandates OA to pay (journal) publishers for anything else at all. Journal publishers are already being paid in full for what they are selling today, and the universities are the buyers. Paying or pledging anything more would simply amount to double-dipping at this time.
Self-archiving mandates are providing universities, their researchers and research with exactly what they are missing today: OA. OA (in case it is not already evident by now) is simply the natural online-age extension of Publish or Perish itself: The reason universities already mandate that their researchers must have their research peer-reviewed and published is that unpublished, unvalidated research is no research at all: it leads to no benefits to anyone, neither knowledge fans nor football fans. Unvalidated, unpublished research, sitting in a desk drawer, may as well not have been done at all. No one can access it, use it, apply it, build upon it.
And research that may as well not have been done at all may as well not have been funded at all, by either the university or the tax-payer.
So we already have Publish or Perish, and in the online age, we have, in addition, "Self-Archive to Flourish," because unnecessary access-barriers are also unnecessary barriers to using, applying and building upon research. Toll-access today is just a bigger desk-drawer.
Toll-booths were necessary in the paper era, to pay the essential costs of generating and disseminating hard copies. (That -- plus peer review -- was what "publishing" meant, way back then.) But today, in the online era, the essential costs of making research accessible to any would-be user webwide reduce to just the costs of implementing peer review -- and those costs (and then some) are currently being paid in full by university journal subscriptions, thank you very much!
So Ian Russell (Chief Executive, ALPSP) is quite mistaken to call his old alma mater, the University of Southampton, a "parasite" for having been the first university in the world to adopt an "unfunded" Green OA self-archiving mandate (beginning with the mandate of Southampton's Department of Electronics and Computer Science in 2001, now university-wide).
What Southampton (and, since then, over twenty other universities and departments, including, Harvard, twice) as well as over twenty research funding agencies (starting with the UK parliamentary Science and Technology Committee's mandate recommendation in 2003, and lately including RCUK's, ERC's and NIH's implemented mandates) have done in mandating Green OA for their own research output is not parasitic by any stretch -- while universities continue to pay the costs of publication through subscriptions. Indeed, such mandates could only be "funded" if universities were foolish enough to fund double-dipping by publishers (which Ian rightly disavows), or agreed to lock themselves into paying the current asking price for whatever goods and services publishers bundle into their current product, come what may.
So, as I said, things would only begin to be parasitic if universities elected not to pay for the costs of publishing their own research once those publishing costs were no longer being covered by subscriptions (from other universities).
For if (research) universities elected to build football fields out of their windfall subscription cancellation savings even after the (hypothetical OA-induced) collapse of subscriptions as the means of covering the (sole remaining essential) cost of peer-reviewed journal publishing (i.e., peer review), then research, researchers, and research universities would simply perish: Publish or Perish.
If this extinction is indeed fated to happen, please blame football -- force majeure -- not OA, or university parasitism! But until and unless football really does prevail in the Academy [I'm not claiming it couldn't!], trust that if push ever comes to shove, the Publish or Perish Mandate itself will see to it that the pennies from the universities' windfall subscription cancellation savings that need to be redirected to pay for the true remaining costs -- of getting their own research output refereed and published -- can and will indeed be so redirected. Necessity is the Mother of Invention.
But the point is that there is no Necessity -- hence no Parasitism -- now.
Just a pressing need for universities to put a long-overdue end to their needless daily, weekly, monthly, yearly research impact loss, which has been accumulating, foolishly, gratuitously, and irretrievably, since at least the 1990's.
This will of course all be obvious -- belatedly but blindingly -- to historians in hindsight. To quote the wag (in a 1999 "Opinion piece... [that did] not necessarily reflect the views of D-Lib Magazine, the Corporation for National Research Initiatives, or DARPA" [at the time!]):
"I have a feeling that when Posterity looks back at the last decade of the 2nd A.D. millennium of scholarly and scientific research on our planet, it may chuckle at us..."So the big lesson that still remains to be learned is a lesson for the universities: it is they (not publishers) who needlessly delayed (by well over a decade) adopting the natural PostGutenberg upgrade of their paper-era Publish or Perish Mandates to extend them to the self-archiving of their own peer-reviewed research output, so as to maximize its usage and impact.
The only lesson journal publishers need to learn from this is that they are -- and always were -- merely service-providers for the universities, who in turn are the research-providers, and paying (through the teeth) for the publishers' service, until further notice.
OA is obviously optimal for research, researchers and their institutions. The publishing tail needs to learn to stop trying to wag the research dog. Adapt to whatever is best for the research-providers and the symbiosis (not parasitism) will continue, felicitously, as it was always destined to do.
American Scientist Open Access Forum
Saturday, May 17. 2008
The view of Ian Russell (who is Chief Executive of the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers [ALPSP] and also an alumnus of the University of Southampton) on the subject of the University of Southampton's Green Open Access (OA) Self-Archiving Mandate is presented in a series of exchanges on liblicense.
Ian criticizes the University of Southampton's mandate as "parasitic" because it is "unfunded." By "unfunded," he does not mean that the University of Southampton does not fund its own Institutional Repository (which it of course does -- although it does not cost much); he means that the University of Southampton does not fund the cost of publishing its own research output.
But universities do not fund the cost of publishing their own research output: What universities fund is the cost of publishing other universities' research output. And they fund that through subscriptions, which buy in access to the peer-reviewed research output of other universities. That is called the subscription model for publication cost-recovery, and until recently, it was the universal model.
Recently, a small but growing minority (c. 10%) of journals have made their contents freely accessible online to all users. These are called Open Access (OA) journals, and publishing in them is called the "golden road" to OA -- the self-archiving of non-OA journal articles being the "green road" to OA (and that, not Gold OA, is what Southampton, Harvard and the other universities are mandating).
Moreover, as Peter Suber frequently points out, the majority of this minority of Gold OA journals still recovers costs on the subscription (or subsidy) model too. Fewer than half of them levy publication fees, which are then paid for either by the author's research funder or the author -- or, in the case of special "membership" agreements with BioMed Central journals or consortial agreements with SCOAP3 journals, the author's university.
Ian Russell is looking for an advance guarantee from universities that mandate Green OA self-archiving that they will pay Gold OA publishing costs. It is not clear whether he means that they should guarantee to pay publishing costs right now, or that they should guarantee to pay publishing costs if and when subscriptions were ever to collapse. By way of support, Ian cites the Wellcome Trust, which makes such a guarantee to pay, right now.
Either way, such a guarantee certainly is not forthcoming from universities now, nor should it be.
Wellcome, as a research funder, has mandated self-archiving of the research that it funds and has also offered to pay Gold OA publishing costs out of some of those research funds, under current conditions, at current asking prices (when subscriptions certainly have not collapsed).
Universities, however, are not, like Wellcome, research funders. Universities are research fundees and research providers. They also subscribe to journals. As such, they are currently paying for publication costs via journal subscriptions, which have not collapsed.
As noted, when universities mandate self-archiving, they are mandating the self-archiving of their own (refereed) research output. When they pay journal subscriptions, they are buying in the refereed research output of other universities.
If and when journal subscriptions ever do collapse, what that means is that universities will no longer be paying them, and hence that those annual windfall savings will become available to universities to pay the publication costs of their own refereed research output. And universities will of course use a portion of those windfall savings to pay the publication costs of their own research output.
(I say "only a portion of those windfall savings," because "publication" will then [i.e., "post-collapse"] mean only peer review implementation costs, not all of the other products and services that subscriptions are paying for today: producing and distributing the print edition, producing and licensing the online PDF edition, fulfillment, archiving, advertising. The post-collapse costs of publication -- peer review alone -- will be much lower.)
In other words, there is nothing for universities to guarantee to pay today, when subscriptions are still sustainable, and still covering all publishing costs, including peer review. And they certainly don't yet have any extra loose change from cancellations to pay the current asking price for Gold OA.
So let's wait for the hypothesized subscription collapse -- if and when it comes -- to free up the universities' funds to pay the cost of having their own research output peer-reviewed and certified as such by the journal's title and track record. Until then, those costs are being covered by existing subscriptions, and the only thing missing is not fee-guarantees but open access -- which is exactly what university self-archiving mandates (like that of Ian Russell's alma mater, Southampton) are intended to ensure (but Harvard's mandate is not one to sneeze at either!)
[To repeat: What it is that urgently needs to be ensured today is open access -- certainly not publishers' revenues, based on the current cost-recovery model and at current asking prices. Publishing is a service to research, not vice versa.]
I close with some quote/comments. (All quotes are from Ian Russell [IR]):
IR: "If we can agree that wide-spread archiving will mean that established subscription income will decline, then surely funds have to be unambiguously made available for the only other show in town: author-side payment."Funds have to be made available now? while they are still tied up in paying subscriptions? If you are not talking about double-dipping, Ian, then you need to explain where this double-funding is meant to come from -- and why -- in advance of the decline. (For the decline itself will be what releases the requisite funds, if and when it happens.)
And is it "decline" we were talking about, or collapse? (I.e., the subscription model becoming no longer sustainable to cover the true cost of publishing in the OA era.)
For if we are only talking about demand declining here, rather than (as I had thought) about its becoming unsustainable, then the natural response would seem to be publisher cost-cutting, by downsizing to the essentials that are still in demand, rather than guaranteed props for sustaining all the products and services that are currently co-bundled into the published journal subscription, at current prices. Demand-decline is a signal that some products and services are becoming superfluous in the OA era, rather than a signal that they must continue to be provided and paid for at all costs.
IR: "We can't have it both ways and say that subscriptions will still pay the bills AND that cancellations (and hence cost savings) are inevitable."But we can say that if and when subscriptions are cancelled, universities will have the windfall savings out of which to pay the bills in the new way. (And the cost-cutting and downsizing are just as likely as the cancellations; indeed, they are the flip side of the very same coin.)
If you don't mind my saying so, Ian, you do seem to be more inclined to herald only the bleak side of this prophecy (subscription collapse) rather than its bright side (windfall savings out of which to pay for peer review). And you seem all too ready to see daily research usage and impact continue to be lost as a consequence, unless universities somehow ante up extra funds today to cover everything being supplied at today's asking prices, regardless of demand (while you continue to disavow advocating double-dipping)...
That sounds like a hedge against whatever might turn out to be the real needs of research and researchers in the OA era.
IR: "As regards "double-dipping", it is important not to conflate the issues for an individual journal or research institution with those of the system as a whole."Agreed. But am I doing the conflating, Ian, or are you? An individual university's Green OA self-archiving mandate (like Southampton's, or Harvard's) has nothing to do with either any individual journal (whether subscription or Gold OA) or the system as a whole.
If and when all universities mandate self-archiving (as I hope they all soon will), that in turn may or may not eventually make subscriptions unsustainable. If it does, then it will also (eo ipso and pari passu) have released the funds to pay for publication on the Gold OA model, subscriptions having become unsustainable -- but not before. There is still plenty of room for some PostGutenberg downsizing, cost-cutting and adaptation before that.
What we will have before any of that hypothetical adaptation, however, is OA itself (which is already long, long overdue), in the form of universal (because mandated) Green OA.
IR: "I don't believe that the PLoS journals could be accused of double-dipping..."Certainly not. But what do Gold OA journals have to do with university Green OA self-archiving mandates?
IR: "...nor journals that reduce their subscription prices in line with the number of articles published under an author-side payment system."Ian, I regret that not only would I never recommend buying-in to such a hedged price lock-in system, but I do not for a moment believe that any journal is sincerely putting it into practice. It is just a notion. McDonald's could make the same offer, that if their clients' employers agree to buy into Gold Open Access burgers, free for all, they'll reduce the burger selling price for their remaining direct clients proportionately.
No, if there's going to be a conversion from institutional subscriptions to institutional publication fees, let those fees be shaped by cost-cutting pressure from the PostGutenberg Green OA economies: That pressure will arise from the university mandates to self-archive their own published research, and to provide their own institutional repositories to take over the load and cost of distribution, access-provision and archiving in the OA era -- rather than publishers continuing to co-bundle those goods and services into their current product at their current asking price.
IR: "Why should PLoS lose out because Southampton University (for example) refuses to cover author-side payment fees?"With respect, I cannot see at all how a Gold OA journal like PLoS is losing out because Southampton is mandating Green OA self-archiving for its own research output! Those researchers who can afford to publish in PLoS journals today, and wish to, can and will.
(Moreover, as far as I know, PLoS is a supporter of self-archiving mandates -- and not just those by funders who offer to pay for today's Gold OA publication fees. And after the "Fall," PLoS too will be able to downsize to the reduced cost of just providing the service of peer review and no more.)
IR: "I am asking institutions not to mandate deposit of research that has been peer-reviewed by a journal, yes, because it is parasitic on the journals system (irrespective of business model) and I do not see how they can claim the right to do so."And the obvious reply is that it will only be parasitic if and when subscriptions collapse, should institutions then still refuse to pay for publication. (But then of course the parasite will perish, because it will not be able to publish, unless it is ready to use some of its windfall subscription savings to pay for it.)
Until then, institutions have every right to mandate providing open access to their own peer-reviewed research output, whose peer-review costs are all being fully covered by subscriptions today. Nothing in the least bit parasitic about that.
IR: "As I have said repeatedly in this exchange so long as the system is paying for the certification elements of scholarly exchange I have no problem."Well, the system is indeed still paying for it, Ian, so I have no choice but to conclude that you have no problem!
American Scientist Open Access Forum
Friday, May 16. 2008
"It's one thing to say you support open-access publishing. It's another to provide authors with a pot of money to actually pay for it. That's what's happening at the University of California Berkeley..." (SPARC News May 2008)It's one thing to support open-access publishing. It's another to provide open access.
What research worldwide needs urgently today is not the money to pay OA journals but OA itself. (Most of the potential money to pay OA journals is currently tied up in paying for non-OA journal subscriptions.)
I hope that apart from just providing authors with money to pay OA publishing fees, Berkeley will also join the ranks of Southampton and Harvard (and 42 other research universities, departments and funders) in mandating that their authors provide OA itself.
"In January, the university launched the Berkeley Research Impact Initiative, a pilot program co-sponsored by the University Librarian and the Vice Chancellor for Research to cover publication charges for open-access journals.Relevant Past Postings:
American Scientist Open Access Forum
Wednesday, May 7. 2008
John Palfrey -- Executive Director of Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet & Society and Terry Martin's successor as head of the Harvard Law Library -- has just announced Harvard Law School's unanimous adoption of a Green OA Self-Archiving Mandate.
This is Harvard's 2nd, the US's 4th, and the world's 44th (with 7 more proposed mandates under consideration, including the EUA council's unanimous recommendation to its 791 member universities in 46 countries).
The Harvard Law School mandate is registered in ROARMAP. Here is John's announcement:
Sunday, May 4. 2008
"Permission-Barrier-Free OA" (regardless of what name we ultimately agree to assign it), because it is on a continuum, needs at least a minimal lower bound to be specified, otherwise it is too vague.
"Price-Barrier-Free OA" (regardless of what name we agree on) does not need an upper or lower bound, because it is not on a continuum. It just means free access online. However, as I have suggested before, it does need to be shored up a bit by stating the obvious:
(1) The free access is to the full digital document (not just to parts of it, or just to its metadata).For Green Price-Barrier-Free OA self-archiving and Green Price-Barrier-Free OA self-archiving mandates, all of these specifications are dead-obvious, irrespective of what proper name we choose to designate it. They are spelled out only for the pedantic, the obtuse, and those who might otherwise be tempted to exploit the word "OA" for other agendas, contrary to the rationale for OA, which is to maximize research access, uptake, usage and impact in the online age.
But in the case of Permission-Barrier-Free OA, regardless of the name (and even in the case of the BBB definition), a minimal lower bound has to be specified, otherwise the condition is so vague as to make no sense. The BBB definition gives examples, but it does not commit to a lower bound.
That is like saying "hot" means temperatures like 30 degrees, 300 degrees or 3000 degrees. That still leaves one in perplexity about what, between 0 degrees and 30 degrees, counts as not hot: In particular, does Price-Barrier-Free OA alone count as Permission-Barrier-Free OA? The answer is No, but the only way to give this condition substance is to specify a minimal lower bound for Permission-Barrier-Free OA.
American Scientist Open Access Forum
Saturday, May 3. 2008
See update 8/2/08/ Open Access: "Gratis" and "Libre"
"Weak/Strong" marks the logical distinction between two forms of OA: price-barrier-free access is a necessary condition for permission-barrier-free access, and permission-barrier-free access is a sufficient condition for price-barrier-free access. That is the logic of weak vs. strong conditions.
But since Peter Suber and I posted the distinction, noting that both price-barrier-free access and permission-barrier-free access are indeed Open Access (OA), many of our colleagues have been contacting us to express serious concern about the unintended pejorative connotations of "weak."
As a consequence, to avoid this unanticipated and inadvertent bias, the two types of OA cannot be named by the logical conditions (weak and strong) that define them. We soon hope to announce a more transparent, unbiased pair of names. Current candidates include:
Transparent, self-explanatory descriptors:(My own sense it that the consensus is tending toward BASIC vs. FULL OA.)USE OA vs. RE-USE OAGeneric descriptors:
The ultimate choice of names matters far less than ensuring that the unintended connotations of "weak" cannot be exploited by the opponents of OA, or by the partisans of one of the forms of OA to the detriment of the other. Nor should mandating "weak OA" be discouraged by the misapprehension that it is some sort of sign of weakness, or of a deficient desideratum
The purpose of our joint statement with Peter Suber had been to make explicit what is already true de facto, which is that both price-barrier-free access and permission-barrier-free access are indeed forms of Open Access (OA), and referred to as such, and that virtually all Green OA today, and much of Gold OA today, is just price-barrier-free OA, not permission-barrier-free OA, although we both agree that permission-barrier-free OA is the ultimate desideratum.
But what Peter Suber and I had not anticipated was that if price-barrier-free OA were actually named by its logical condition as "Weak OA" (i.e., the necessary condition for permission-barrier-free OA) then that would create difficulties for those who are working hard toward the universal adoption of the mandates to provide price-barrier-free OA (Green OA self-archiving mandates) that are only now beginning to grow and flourish.
In particular, Professor Bernard Rentier, the Rector of the University of Liege (which has adopted a Green OA self-archiving mandate to provide price-barrier-free OA) is also the founder of EurOpenScholar, which is dedicated to promoting the adoption of Green OA mandates in the universities of Europe and worldwide. Professor Rentier advised us quite explicitly that if price-boundary-free OA were called "Weak OA," it would make it much harder to persuade other rectors to adopt Green OA mandates -- purely because of the negative connotations of "weak."
Nor is the solution to try instead to promote permission-barrier-free ("Strong OA") mandates, for the obstacles and resistance to that are far, far greater. We are all agreed that it is not realistic to expect consensus from either authors, university administrators or funders on the adoption of, or compliance with, mandates to provide permission-barrier-free OA at this time, and that the growth of price-barrier-free OA should on no account be slowed by or subordinated to efforts to promote permission-barrier-free OA (though all of us are in favour of permission-barrier-free OA too).
So, as the label "weak" would be a handicap, we need another label. The solution is not to spell it out longhand every time either, as "price-barrier-free OA," etc. That would be as awkward as it would be absurd.
So we are looking for a shorthand or stand-in for "price-barrier-free OA" and "permission-barrier-free OA" that will convey the distinction without any pejorative connotations for either form of OA. The two forms of OA stand defined, explicitly and logically. They are now in need of value-neutral names.
Suggested names are welcome -- but not if they have negative connotations for either form of OA. Nor is it an option to re-appropriate the label "OA" for only one of the two forms of OA.
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