Thursday, July 31. 2008
Davis et al's 1-year Study of Self-Selection Bias: No Self-Archiving Control, No OA Effect, No Conclusion
The following is an expanded, hyperlinked version of a BMJ critique of:
Davis, PN, Lewenstein, BV, Simon, DH, Booth, JG, & Connolly, MJL (2008) Open access publishing, article downloads, and citations: randomised controlled trial British Medical Journal 337: a568
Overview (by SH):
Davis et al.'s study was designed to test whether the "Open Access (OA) Advantage" (i.e., more citations to OA articles than to non-OA articles in the same journal and year) is an artifact of a "self-selection bias" (i.e., better authors are more likely to self-archive or better articles are more likely to be self-archived by their authors).
The control for self-selection bias was to select randomly which articles were made OA, rather than having the author choose. The result was that a year after publication the OA articles were not cited significantly more than the non-OA articles (although they were downloaded more).
The authors write:
"To control for self selection we carried out a randomised controlled experiment in which articles from a journal publisher’s websites were assigned to open access status or subscription access only"The authors conclude:
"No evidence was found of a citation advantage for open access articles in the first year after publication. The citation advantage from open access reported widely in the literature may be an artefact of other causes."Commentary:
To show that the OA advantage is an artefact of self-selection bias (or of any other factor), you first have to produce the OA advantage and then show that it is eliminated by eliminating self-selection bias (or any other artefact).
This is not what Davis et al. did. They simply showed that they could detect no OA advantage one year after publication in their sample. This is not surprising, since most other studies, some based based on hundreds of thousands of articles, don't detect an OA advantage one year after publication either. It is too early.
To draw any conclusions at all from such a 1-year study, the authors would have had to do a control condition, in which they managed to find a sufficient number of self-selected, self-archived OA articles (from the same journals, for the same year) that do show the OA advantage, whereas their randomized OA articles do not. In the absence of that control condition, the finding that no OA advantage is detected in the first year for this particular sample of 247 out of 1619 articles in 11 physiological journals is completely uninformative.
The authors did find a download advantage within the first year, as other studies have found. This early download advantage for OA articles has also been found to be correlated with a citation advantage 18 months or more later. The authors try to argue that this correlation would not hold in their case, but they give no evidence (because they hurried to publish their study, originally intended to run four years, three years too early.)
(1) The Davis study was originally proposed (in December 2006) as intended to cover 4 years:
Davis, PN (2006) Randomized controlled study of OA publishing (see comment)It has instead been released after a year.
(2) The Open Access (OA) Advantage (i.e., significantly more citations for OA articles, always comparing OA and non-OA articles in the same journal and year) has been reported in all fields tested so far, for example:
Hajjem, C., Harnad, S. and Gingras, Y. (2005) Ten-Year Cross-Disciplinary Comparison of the Growth of Open Access and How it Increases Research Citation Impact. IEEE Data Engineering Bulletin 28(4) pp. 39-47.(3) There is always the logical possibility that the OA advantage is not a causal one, but merely an effect of self-selection: The better authors may be more likely to self-archive their articles and/or the better articles may be more likely to be self-archived; those better articles would be the ones that get more cited anyway.
(4) So it is a very good idea to try to control methodologically for this self-selection bias: The way to control it is exactly as Davis et al. have done, which is to select articles at random for being made OA, rather than having the authors self-select.
(5) Then, if it turns out that the citation advantage for randomized OA articles is significantly smaller than the citation advantage for self-selected-OA articles, the hypothesis that the OA advantage is all or mostly just a self-selection bias is supported.
(6) But that is not at all what Davis et al. did.
(7) All Davis et al. did was to find that their randomized OA articles had significantly higher downloads than non-OA articles, but no significant difference in citations.
(8) This was based on the first year after publication, when most of the prior studies on the OA advantage likewise find no significant OA advantage, because it is simply too early: the early results are too noisy! The OA advantage shows up in later years (1-4).
(9) If Davis et al. had been more self-critical, seeking to test and perhaps falsify their own hypothesis, rather than just to confirm it, they would have done the obvious control study, which is to test whether articles that were made OA through self-selected self-archiving by their authors (in the very same year, in the very same journals) show an OA advantage in that same interval. For if they do not, then of course the interval was too short, the results were released prematurely, and the study so far shows nothing at all: It is not until you have actually demonstrated an OA advantage that you can estimate how much of that advantage might in reality be due to a self-selection artefact!
(10) The study shows almost nothing at all, but not quite nothing, because one would expect (based on our own previous study, which showed that early downloads, at 6 months, predict enhanced citations at a year and a half or later) that Davis's increased downloads too would translate into increased citations, once given enough time.
Brody, T., Harnad, S. and Carr, L. (2006) Earlier Web Usage Statistics as Predictors of Later Citation Impact. Journal of the American Association for Information Science and Technology (JASIST) 57(8) pp. 1060-1072.(11) The findings of Michael Kurtz and collaborators are also relevant in this regard. They looked only at astrophysics, which is special, in that (a) it is a field with only about a dozen journals, to which every research-active astronomer has subscription access -- these days they also have free online access via ADS -- and (b) it is a field in which most authors self-archive their preprints very early in arxiv -- much earlier than the date of publication.
Kurtz, M. J. and Henneken, E. A. (2007) Open Access does not increase citations for research articles from The Astrophysical Journal. Preprint deposited in arXiv September 6, 2007.(12) Kurtz & Henneken, too, found the usual self-archiving advantage in astrophysics (i.e., about twice as many citations for OA papers than non-OA), but when they analyzed its cause, they found that most of the cause was the Early Advantage of access to the preprint, as much as a year before publication of the (OA) postprint. In addition, they found a self-selection bias (for prepublication preprints -- which is all that were involved here, because, as noted, in astrophysics, after publication, everything is OA): The better articles by the better authors were more likely to have been self-archived as preprints.
(13) Kurtz's results do not generalize to all fields, because it is not true of other fields either that (a) they already have 100% OA for their published postprints, or that (b) many authors tend to self-archive preprints before publication.
(14) However, the fact that early preprint self-archiving (in a field that is 100% OA as of postprint publication) is sufficient to double citations is very likely to translate into a similar effect, in a non-OA, non-preprint-archiving field, if one reckons on the basis of the one-year access embargo that many publishers are imposing on the postprint. (The yearlong "No-Embargo" advantage provided by postprint OA in other fields might not turn out to be so big as to double citations, as the preprint Early Advantage in astrophysics does, because any potential prepublication advantage is lost, and after publication there is at least the subscription access to the postprint; but the postpublication counterpart of the Early Advantage for postprints that are either not self-archived or embargoed is likely to be there too.)
(15) Moreover, the preprint OA advantage is primarily Early Advantage, and only secondarily Self-Selection.
(16) The size of the postprint self-selection bias would have been what Davis et al. tested -- if they had done the proper control, and waited long enough to get an actual OA effect to compare against. (Their regression analyses simply show that exactly as they detected no citation advantage in their sample and interval for the random OA articles, they likewise likewise detected no citation advantage for the self-selected self-archived OA articles in their sample and interval: this hardly constitutes evidence that the (undetected) OA advantage is in reality a self-selection artefact!)
(17) We had reported in an unpublished 2007 pilot study that there was no statistically significant difference between the size of the OA advantage for mandated (i.e., obligatory) and unmandated (i.e., self-selected) self-archiving:
Hajjem, C & Harnad, S. (2007) The Open Access Citation Advantage: Quality Advantage Or Quality Bias? Preprint deposited in arXiv January 22, 2007.(18) We will soon be reporting the results of a 4-year study on the OA advantage in mandated and unmandated self-archiving that confirms these earlier findings: Mandated self-archiving is like Davis et al.'s randomized OA, but we find that it does not reduce the OA advantage at all -- once enough time has elapsed for there to be an OA Advantage at all.
American Scientist Open Access Forum
Tuesday, July 29. 2008
The Humanities and Social Sciences branch of France's Agence Nationale de la recherche has just announced its Green OA self-archiving mandate -- France's first funder mandate (France' second mandate overall, and the world's 50th). See ROARMAP
Note that the situation in France with central repositories is very different from the case of NIH's PMC repository: France's HAL is a national central repository where (in principle) (1) all French research output --from every field, and every institution-- can be deposited and (again, in principle) (2) every French institution (or department or funder) can have its own interface and "look" in HAL, a "virtual" Institutional Repository (IR), saving it the necessity of creating an IR of its own if it does not feel it needs to.
The crucial underlying question -- and several OA advocates in France are raising the question, notably, Hélène Bosc, in a forthcoming article (meanwhile, see this) -- is whether the probability of adopting institutional OA mandates in France is increased or decreased by the HAL option: Are universities more inclined to adopt a window on HAL, and to mandate central deposit of all their institutional research output, or would they be more inclined to mandate deposit in their own autonomous university IRs, which they manage and control?
Again, the SWORD protocol for automatic import and export between IRs and CRs is pertinent, because then it doesn't matter which way institutions prefer to do it.
Sunday, July 27. 2008
I am not at all sure that Kudos are in order for Oxford University Press (OUP), just because they offer authors at subscribing institutions a discount on their hybrid Gold OA fee:
Unlike the American Psychological Association (yes, the much maligned APA!), the American Physical Society, Elsevier, Cambridge University Press and all the other 232 publishers (57%) of the 6457 journals (63%) that are on the side of the angels -- fully Green on immediate post-print self-archiving -- OUP is among the Pale-Green minority of 48 publishers (12%) of 3228 journals (32%) (such as Nature, which back-slid to a postprint embargo ever since 2005).
OUP's post-print policy is:
12 month embargo on science, technology, medicine articlesShould we really be singing the praises of each publisher's discount on their hybrid Gold OA fee for the double-payment they are exacting (from the subscribers as well as the authors)?
I would stop applauding as progress for OA every self-interested step taken by those publishers who do not first take the one essential OA-friendly step: going (fully) Green.
Yes, OUP are lowering fees annually in proportion to hybrid Gold OA uptake, but they are meanwhile continuing to hold the post-print hostage for 12-24 months.
In reality, all the fee reduction means is an adjustment for double-dipping -- plus a lock-in on the price of Gold OA, and a lockout of Green OA.
American Scientist Open Access Forum
Saturday, July 26. 2008
Alma Swan has just posted an excellent overview of "Where researchers should deposit their articles"
This clear, solid, sensible essay converges on the essence of a rather divergent series of discussion threads currently ongoing in the American Scientist Open Access Forum.
It is followed up with the preliminary posting of some results from a survey of Institutional Repository (IR) managers which indicate that
Excerpts from the Alma Swan's essay:(1) The IRs with mandated deposit have the least difficulty collecting content (compared to IRs with no institutional deposit policy at all or merely a policy encouraging deposit).
The issue of which model for Open Access self-archiving is best – asking researchers to deposit their work in centralised, subject-based repositories or in their own institutional repository – is again being discussed at length....
Saturday, July 19. 2008
OAI metadata harvesting protocol is that local, distributed, content-provider sites each provide their own content and global service-provider sites harvest that content and provide global services over it, such as indexing, search, and other added values. (This is not a symmetric process. It does not make sense to think of the individual content-providers as "harvesting" their own content (back) from global service-providers.)
The question is accordingly whether OA deposit mandates should be (1) convergent, with both institutional and funder mandates requiring deposit in the author's own OA Institutional Repository (IR), for harvesting by global overlay OA services and collections (such as PubMed Central, PMC) or (2) divergent, requiring authors to deposit all over the map, locally or distally, possibly multiple times, depending on field and funding. It seems obvious that coordinated, convergent IR deposit mandates from both institutions and funders will bring universal OA far more surely and swiftly than needless and counterproductive divergence.
In the interests of a swift, seamless, systematic, global transition to universal OA, NIH should accordingly make one tiny change (entailing no loss at all in content or functionality) in its otherwise invaluable, historic, and much-imitated mandate: NIH should mandate IR deposit and harvest to PMC from there.
The spirit of the Congressional directive that publicly funded research should be made publicly accessible online, free for all, is fully met once everyone, webwide, can click on the link to an item whose metadata they have found in PMC, and the article instantly appears, just as if they had retrieved it via Google, regardless of whether the item's URL happens to be in an IR or in PMC itself.
A possible reason the NIH mandate took the divergent form it did may have been a conflation of access archiving with preservation archiving: But the version that NIH has (rightly) stipulated for OA deposit (each "investigator's... electronic version of their final, peer-reviewed manuscripts upon acceptance for publication") is not even the draft that is in the real need of preservation; it is just a supplementary copy, provided for access purposes: The definitive version, the one that really stands in need of preservation, is not this author-copy but the publisher's official proprietary version of record.
For preservation, the definitive document needs to be deposited in an archival depository (preferably several, for safe-keeping, updating and migration as technology evolves), not an OA collection like PMC. But that essential archival deposit/preservation function has absolutely nothing to do with either the author or with OA.
Peter Suber: "At the moment, I see two conflicting APA statements and no evidence that either statement [2002 or 2008] took the other into account. So I'm still waiting for a definitive clarification from the APA. But as I say, if the APA reaffirms the 2002 policy to allow no-fee, no-embargo self-archiving to IRs, then I will applaud it."That will shortly sort itself out.
It seems obvious to me that the only coherent resolution is that APA's 2002 Green OA policy takes precedence over the contradictory passages in APA's 2008 PMC addendum. It would be arbitrary bordering on dementia to declare that:
I predict that the proposed APA policy will first be:"Our policy is that any APA author may self-archive their own refereed final draft in their own IR for free as long they are not mandated to do so by NIH; but if they are mandated to do so by NIH, then they must pay us $2500 to do it!"
And then they will back down from the surcharge altogether. (I do have a bit of a track-record for correctly second-guessing APA policy!)"All we meant was that, as before, any APA author may self-archive their own refereed final draft in their own IR for free, but depositing APA's proprietary published version in PMC will cost $2500."
Peter Suber: "However, if the APA retains the "deposit fee" for NIH-funded authors, then I will continue to criticize it. The APA will still be charging for green OA, which is utterly unnecessary."Do continue to criticize it, Peter, but please make sure the criticism is on target: As long as APA authors are free to provide green OA by depositing in their own IRs, APA can definitely not be said to be "charging for green OA" if APA charges authors for depositing in PMC (any more than I can be said to be charging for water if I say "water is free but bring your own container" and you insist on water in a container).
The $2500 fee is indeed absurd, but that absurdity (and a many other counterproductive consquences) would be completely remedied by NIH's simply dropping its supererogatory requirement to deposit directly in PMC, and harvesting the metadata from the IRs instead. A central collection like PMC is just that: a collection. It is sufficient for such collections to harvest the metadata (as Google does) and to link to the full-text where it is actually deposited, i.e., the IR of the institution it came from.
Peter Suber: "[APA] will still fail to deliver immediate OA, or OA to the published edition, which fee-based [Gold or optional-Gold] OA journals always deliver in exchange for their fees."You mean the publisher's proprietary version? But even the NIH mandate is only requiring deposit of the author's final refereed draft, not the publisher's proprietary version:
I also think you may be equating the $2500 fee with a (hybrid) optional-Gold OA fee (from a non-Green publisher such as ACS). But it is not that. APA's is a PMC deposit fee, from a Green publisher. (There is no relevant category for a requirement to deposit in a 3rd-party CR, because it is arbitrary to have to do so, and has nothing to do with OA itself, which APA authors can already provide via Green OA in their own IRs.)The NIH Public Access Policy implements Division G, Title II, Section 218 of PL 110-161 (Consolidated Appropriations Act,2008). The law states:
Moreover, to heap absurdity upon absurdity, we both know, Peter, that (1) not only does it not matter one bit, for OA accessibility to one and all, webwide, whether a document's locus is an IR or a CR, but (2) if and when all of OA's target content is made OA, one way or the other, then the distinction between 1st-party (author-institution), 2nd-party (publisher) and 3rd party (PMC, UKPMC, EuroPMC, Google, or any other CR) archiving becomes irrelevant, the game is over, universal OA has at last arrived, and all these trivial locus and party details as well as this absurd talk of deposit surcharges becomes moot.
The problem is with first reaching that universal OA, which is already long, long overdue (after many, many false starts, including a prior one by NIH itself, 3 years ago, which elicited a compliance rate below 4%, less than a third of the global average for spontaneous -- i.e., unmandated -- self-archiving.)
And coordinated, convergent IR deposit mandates -- funder mandates complementing institutional mandates -- will get us there far more surely and swiftly than the needless and counterproductive divergence we have imposed on ourselves by not thinking the PMC locus stipulation through in advance (or fixing it as it becomes more and more apparent that it creates unanticipated and unnecessary problems).
Peter Suber: "If the APA reaffirms its 2002 green policy, then NIH-funded authors could bypass the deposit fee when self-archiving to their IRs. But they couldn't bypass the fee when self-archiving to PMC, and they are bound by the NIH policy to deposit in PMC (or have their journal do so for them)."Correct, but isn't this reasoning a bit circular, if not fatalistic? Which one is cluttering the path to universal OA (now that we have the invaluable NIH mandate)? APA, which blesses OA self-archiving in the author's own OA IR, for free, or NIH, which (unnecessarily) insists on mandating more than "merely" OA?
Would it not be better for NIH to think it through, and then -- patiently, in the interests of a swift, seamless, systematic, global progression to universal OA -- make in its otherwise invaluable, historic, and much-imitated mandate the one tiny change that (with no loss at all in content or functionality) will create the optimal conditions for a full-scale transition to universal OA, rather than only (the NIH/PMC) part of it?
Let NIH mandate IR deposit and harvest from there.
Peter Suber: "Stevan hopes that policies like the APA's will pressure the NIH to drop this requirement and allow deposits in an IR to suffice. But even if that ought to happen, it won't happen soon and very likely won't happen at all. One reason is simply that the requirement to deposit in PMC was mandated by Congress. The NIH undoubtedly supports the Congressional directive, but it's not an in-house policy decision that the agency is free to reverse at will."Deposits in IRs can be harvested into PMC. The issue here is merely the locus of the point of direct deposit.
Does anyone imagine that the spirit of the Congressional directive -- to the effect that publicly funded research should be made publicly accessible online, free for all -- would not be fully met once everyone, webwide, can click on the link to an item whose metadata they have retrieved from PMC, and the article instantly appears, just as if they had retrieved it via Google, but the item's URL happens to be in an IR rather than in PMC!
Or are OA self-archiving issues being conflated with preservation archiving issues here (yet again, as so often happens, and inevitably at OA's expense)? If so, the preservation of what: "final, peer-reviewed manuscripts"?
Peter Suber: "But should Congress and the NIH prefer PMCs to IRs? Maybe, maybe not. I see good arguments on both sides."For OA functionality, the locus of deposit makes zero difference. For preservation, OA is beside the point and unnecessary. But for OA content-provision itself -- and not just for NIH-funded content, but for all of OA's target content, across all disciplines, institutions and nations -- locus of deposit matters enormously. There's no functionality without content. And I know of no good argument at all in favor of institution-external direct deposit, insofar as OA content-provision is concerned; only a lot of good arguments against it.
Peter Suber: "But they are irrelevant here because (1) the APA deposit fee would still [be] unnecessary"Why is it just APA's absurd $2500 fee for PMC deposit that is singled out as being unnecessary (given that the APA is Green on free OA IR deposit): Is NIH's gratuitous stipulation of PMC deposit not likewise unnecessary (for OA)?
(This question is all the more germane given that the global transition to universal OA stands to benefit a lot more from NIH's dropping its gratuitous (and alas much imitated) deposit-locus stipulation than from APA's dropping its absurd bid for a PMC deposit fee.)
Peter Suber: "(2) there's no evidence that the APA was motivated, as Stevan is, to protest the preference for PMC --as opposed to (say) mandatory OA."But I never said the APA was motivated to protest the preference for PMC! That really would be absurd. I am certain that APA (and every other non-OA publisher) is none too thrilled about either author self-archiving or mandatory OA, anywhere, in any form!
But APA nevertheless did the responsible thing, and bit the bullet on formally endorsing institutional self-archiving. There's no (OA) reason they should have to bite it on institution-external, 3rd-party archiving in PMC too (even though the distinction will eventually be mooted by universal OA) -- though the response of the OA community, if directed, myopically, at APA alone, and not NIH, will no doubt see to it that they will.
Frankly, I think APA just saw an opportunity to try to make a buck, and maybe also to put the brakes on an overall process that they saw as threatening to their current revenue streams. Can't blame them for thinking that; it may turn out to be true. But as long as they're Green, they're "gold," as far as OA is concerned (though, to avoid conflicting terminology, let us just say they are "on the side of the angels").
Peter Suber: "(For the record, my position is close to Stevan's: institutional and disciplinary repositories should harvest from one another; that would greatly lower the stakes in the question where an OA mandate should require initial deposit; if we got that far, I'd be happy to see a policy require deposit in IRs.)"I'm afraid I can't quite follow Peter's reasoning here:
The issue is whether deposit mandates should be convergent -- requiring all authors to deposit in their own OA IRs, for harvesting by global overlay OA services and collections therefrom -- or divergent, requiring authors to deposit all over the map, possibly multiply, depending on field and funding, possibly necessitating "reverse-harvesting," with each institution's software having to trawl the web, looking to retrieve its own institutional output, alas deposited institution-externally.
(That last is not really "harvesting" at all; rather, it involves a functional misunderstanding of the very concept of harvesting: The OAI concept is that there are local content-providers and global service-providers. Content-providers are local and distributed, each providing its own content -- in this case, institutional IRs. Then there are service-providers, who harvest that content [or just the content's metadata and URL] from the distributed, interoperable content-providers, and provide global services on it, such as indexing, search, and other added values. This is not a symmetric process. It does not make sense to think of the content-providers as "harvesting" their own content (back) from the service-providers! Another way to put this is that -- although it was not evident at the time -- OAI-interoperability really meant the end of the need for "central repositories" (CRs) for direct deposit. Now there would just be central collections (services), harvested from distributed local content-providers. No need to deposit distally. And certainly no sense in depositing distally only to "harvest" it back home again! Institutional content-provision begins and ends with the institution's own local IR; the rest is just global, webwide harvesting and service-provision.)
Peter Suber: "Stevan does call the deposit fee absurd. So we agree on that as well. But he adds that the NIH preference for PMC over IRs "reduced us to this absurdity". I'm afraid that's absurd too. If the NIH preference for PMC somehow compelled publishers to respond with deposit fees, then we'd see many of them. But in fact we see almost none."(1) Of course APA's $2500 deposit fee is absurd. But -- given that APA is Green on OA, and given the many reasons why convergent IR deposit, mandated by institutions as well as funders, not only makes more sense but is far more likely to scale up, coherently and systematically, to universal OA across disciplines, institutions and nations than divergent willy-nilly deposit of institutional content here, there and everywhere -- I welcome this absurd outcome (the $2500 PMC deposit fee) and hope the reductio ad absurdum it reveals helps pinpoint (and fix) the real source of the absurdity, which is not APA's wistful surcharge, but NIH's needless insistence on direct deposit institution-externally in PMC.
(2) I have no idea whether the OA community's hew and cry about the $2500 APA surcharge for PMC deposit will be targeted exclusively at APA (and any other publishers that get the same bright idea), forcing them to withdraw it, while leaving the dysfunctional NIH constraint on locus of deposit in place.
(3) I hope, instead, that the OA community will have the insight to target NIH's constraint on deposit locus as well, so as to persuade NIH to optimize its widely-imitated policy in the interests of its broader implications for the prospects of global OA -- one small step for NIH but a giant leap for mankind -- by fixing the one small bug in an otherwise brilliant policy.
Peter Suber: "Even if the NIH preference for PMC were a choice the agency could reverse at will, the APA deposit fee is another choice, not necessitated by the NIH policy and not justified by it."Where there's a will, there's a way, and here it's an extremely simple way, a mere implementational detail: Instead of depositing directly in PMC, authors deposit in their IRs and send PMC the URL. If NIH adopted that, the APA's PMC deposit surcharge bid would instantly become moot.
If the furor evoked by the APA $2500 surcharge proved to be the factor that managed to inspire NIH to take the rational step that rational argument alone has so far been powerless to inspire, then that will be a second (unintentional) green feather in APA's cap, and another of the ironies and absurdities of our long, somnambulistic trek toward the optimal and inevitable outcome for scientific and scholarly research.
A Simple Way to Optimize the NIH Public Access Policy (Oct 2004)Stevan Harnad
American Scientist Open Access Forum
Thursday, July 17. 2008
With today's Green OA Self-Archiving Mandate announcement from Canada's National Research Council, that makes 49 mandates adopted worldwide, and 12 more proposed. See ROARMAP (Registry of Open Access Repository Material Archiving Policies). (Thanks to Peter Suber and Richard Ackerman for the notice.)
Let us hope that NRC will sensibly require that authors deposit directly in their own Institutional Repositories, from which NRC's planned central repository, NPArC, can then harvest the deposit, rather than needlessly (and counterproductively) requiring -- as NIH currently does -- direct institution-external deposit. The optimal mandate is of course ID/OA (immediate deposit/optional access) rather than delayed or optional deposit.
A Simple Way to Optimize the NIH Public Access Policy (Oct 2004)
American Scientist Open Access Forum
In Open Access News, my comrade-at-arms, Peter Suber commented on my essay "In Defense of the American Psychological Association's Green OA Policy," which defended the APA from criticism for levying a $2500 fee on authors for compliance with the NIH mandate to deposit in PubMed Central (PMC). I had said the problem was with NIH's stipulation that the deposit had to be in PMC rather than in the author's own Institutional Repository (IR): Though initially opposed in 1996, APA has since 2002 been solidly among the majority of publishers that are Green on OA self-archiving, meaning they explicitly endorse deposit in the author's own institutional IR immediately upon acceptance for publication, with no fee (exactly as all publishers ought to be doing). Moreover, APA has now re-confirmed (see below) that it has no intention of back-sliding on that 6-year-old green policy (as Nature Publishing Group did 3 years ago, immediately upon the impending announcement of the NIH policy).
Peter Suber: "Stevan is mixing up unrelated issues. The APA "deposit fee" had nothing to do with the distinction between disciplinary repositories (like PMC) and institutional repositories. If the NIH mandated deposit in IRs instead of PMC, then the APA would demand a $2,500 fee for deposit in IRs, and the fee would be equally noxious and indefensible. Even if the NIH's preference for PMC were as foolish as Stevan says it is (a criticism I do not share), it would not justify the APA fee."Peter seems to be replying with a hypothetical conditional, regarding what the APA would have done. But the APA has already been formally endorsing immediate Open Access self-archiving in the author's own IR for six years now. Moreover (see below), the publisher, Gary Vandenbos, has confirmed that APA has not changed that policy, nor are there plans to change it.
What needs to be changed is just one small implementational detail of NIH's Public Access Policy: the requirement to deposit directly in PMC. The locus of deposit should be the author's own IR. PMC can harvest the metadata and link to the full-text in the IR. This will cost NIH authors nothing. APA itself has no plans to repeal its commendable 6-year-old Green OA self-archiving policy. (It would certainly have put APA in a very bad light if, having given its authors the green light to self-archive in their own IRs, APA then decided to slap a $2500 traffic ticket on them for going ahead and doing so!)
Date: 15 Jul 2008 23:28:40 -0400Date: 16 Jul 2008 2:05:49 AM EDT (CA),
Peter Suber: "Stevan points to a 2002 APA policy statement, still online, which allows self-archiving in IRs. But he doesn't point out that the APA's newer policy statement describing the "deposit fee" effectively negates the older green policy, at least for NIH-funded authors. The new policy prohibits NIH-funded authors from depositing their postprints in any OA repository, disciplinary or institutional."The 2002 APA policy statement is not only still online and still in effect, but we have the publisher's word that there is to be no change in that policy. The proposed fee only pertains to deposit in PMC.
APA Policy on Posting Articles on the Internet ...Update effective June 1, 2002...Authors of articles published in APA journals may post a copy of the final manuscript... on their Web site or their employer's server after it is accepted for publication... APA does not permit archiving with any other non-APA repositories...
Peter Suber: "The title of Stevan's post suggests that he's defending the APA's 2002 self-archiving policy. I join him in that. But the body of his post attempts to defend the 2008 deposit fee as well: "Although it looks bad on the face of it...things are not always as they seem." Not always, but this time."Not this time, and never for a publisher that is Green on OA. Once a publisher is Green on OA, there is nothing more that can or should be demanded of them, by the research community. The ball is now in the research community's court. It is up to research institutions and research funders to design sensible policies that will ensure that the researchers they employ and fund actually provide Green OA for their joint research output.
Not all research is funded (and certainly not all by NIH), but (virtually) all researchers have institutions. And all institutions are just a piece of free software, some server-space, and a few hours of sysad set-up and maintenance time away from having an IR, if they do not already have one.
The sensible OA mandate, from both institutions and funders (like NIH) is to require deposit in the researcher's own IR, immediately upon acceptance for publication. If there is an embargo, access to the deposit can be set as Closed Access during the embargo. The IR's "email eprint request" button will provide almost-immediate, almost-OA for all user needs during any embargo.
If funders or others want to create institution-external, central collections of already-OA content, based on subject matter, funding source, nationality, or whatever, then they can harvest the metadata and link to the full-text in the IR in which it was deposited. But there is certainly no reason to insist that it be deposited directly in their collections. Google, for example, quietly harvests everything: no need to deposit things directly in Google or Google Scholar. And no charge.
Peter Suber: "Both arguments are moot for a while, now that the APA has taken down the new policy statement for "re-examination". (See the 7/16/08 update to my blog post on the policy.)"I don't doubt that well-meaning OA supporters who have not thought it through are now railing at APA instead of resolutely requesting that NIH make the minor modification in its otherwise admirable, timely, and welcome policy that would put an end to this nonsense and let researchers get on with the urgent task of providing OA by depositing their own research in their own OA IRs, free for all, webwide.
Epilogue and Homily:
The influence of the pro-OA lobby has become gratifyingly strong and swift:
A new policy is in the works. In an e-mail from Alan Kazdin, APA president:but it would be useful if the heads of OA advocates worldwide were focused, commensurately strongly, on using their growing influence to promote what will actually generate universal OA, swiftly and surely, rather than dissipating it on the short-sighted distractions -- such as Gold Fever, Preservation Panic, Copyright Compulsion, and, here, Supererogatory Centralism -- which are only delaying rather than facilitating OA:
(For the record, and the too literal-minded: Of course a $2500 fee for depositing in PMS is absurd, but what reduced us to this absurdity was needlessly mandating direct deposit in PMS in the first place. Time to remedy the absurdity and let researchers' fingers do the walking so we can all reach 100% OA at long last.)
A Simple Way to Optimize the NIH Public Access Policy (Oct 2004)
American Scientist Open Access Forum
Tuesday, July 15. 2008
Although it looks bad on the face of it -- the American Psychological Association (APA) charging the author's institution and/or research grant $2500, not even for Gold OA publishing, but just for depositing the author's refereed final draft in PubMed Central (PMC) on the author's behalf ("proxy self-archiving"), in order to fulfill the NIH mandate -- things are not always as they seem.
There is no culprit in this nonsense, but if I had to pinpoint its provenance, it would be the foolish form in which the NIH -- despite relentlessly repeated advice and reasons to the contrary -- insisted on drafting its policy:
To cut to the quick, there is no earthly reason NIH should insist on direct deposit in PMC. The mandate should be (and should all along have been) to deposit in the author's own Institutional Repository (IR). PMC can then harvest the metadata and link to the IR-deposited full-text itself from there.
Unlike the American Chemical Society journals (which have unswervingly opposed Green OA), the American Psychological Association journals (after initial opposition, and eventually the majority of other journals) -- for reasons they would have found it very hard to justify flouting -- have long given their green light to immediate deposit (no delay, no embargo, and of course no fee) in the author's own IR:
To repeat, a publisher that is Green on immediate OA self-archiving in the author's own IR is squarely on the side of the angels. (If that publisher seeks to profit from NIH's gratuitous insistence on institution-external deposit, by treating PMC as a 3rd-party free-loader or rival publisher, hence legally requiring permission or payment to re-publish, I would say that NIH drew that upon itself. As noted many times, that technicality does not work with an author's own institution.)
And it is remediable: Simply revise the NIH mandate to require institutional IR deposit of the accepted final draft, immediately upon acceptance (with a cap on the permissible embargo length, if any). That is the sensible policy -- and nature will take care of the rest, with universal OA just around the corner.
A Simple Way to Optimize the NIH Public Access Policy (Oct 2004)
American Scientist Open Access Forum
On Mon, 14 Jul 2008, Richard Poynder wrote in the American Scientist Open Access Forum:
Thanks to everyone who helped me when I was writing about Bentham Science Publishers. I am now researching another OA publisher [Scientific Journals International], and would be grateful for any further help list members might be able to provide...There seems to be a growing epidemic of fast Gold-OA journal-fleet start-ups, based on next to no scholarly/scientific or publishing experience or expertise, and relying heavily on online spamming. The numbers are high enough to have inspired a fraud-alert/spam-warning series on Guenther Eysenbach's blog and now Richard Poynder's investigative studies.
The warning sign is always fleet start-ups (in both sense of "fleet"), from Elsevier/Springer wannabes: By quickly starting a bunch of journals, you can treat them all as a database, and treat peer review as just a matter of automatized software. Journals can now be irregular, "publishing" papers singly as they are are accepted, rather than bundling them by regular issue. (This is just fine, for a journal with an established track record for quality, but for a start-up fleet, it means journals can come and go, the author and archival perenity be damned: it's survival of the fittest -- fittest to generate either self-sustaining revenue for the publisher or a quick pull-out...) An honest new journal start-up is always just one journal.
Here are some observations on this unwelcome phenomenon that risks giving OA a bad name:
(1) Gold OA fever (a general yearning for OA that has sometimes taken the specific form of an urgent desire for Gold OA journals) has created a climate in which some people think there is money to be made by starting up new OA journals. They think that because most established journals are currently unwilling to convert to Gold, they can attract their authors away from them (and charge the authors for it).None of this is doing the reputation of either OA or Gold OA or even peer-reviewed journal publishing any good. Gold OA fever and the economies of the online medium attract quick-money-minded know-nothings to what used to be an honorable scholarly/scientific trade: peer-reviewed journal publishing. It must be admitted that the trade had already been in decline since before OA and even before the online medium, with (some) publishers becoming big, price-inflated fleets of journals, many with low peer-review standards. But the Dot-Gold Rush has carried this to a grotesque extreme, because it did not even have to worry about building up a subscriber base by generating a credible journal: It just charged authors, already eager for publication, and if the articles ended up in a soon-dead "journal", no skin off the "publisher's" nose.
It has always been part of the strategy of starting up a journal to attract a distinguished (and sometimes unused) "Editorial Board" so as to attract, in turn, authors and reviewers. Authors have always been lured by the need and greed to publish, trading off the fact that a journal was new with the fact that it was hungrier to accept one's paper. Scholars and scientists have always accepted to join new journals' editorial boards (usually after being assured the workload would be light) for the added luster it gave their CVs. Referees refereed willingly for free, partly out of superstition, partly out of duty, partly out of interest in the subject matter.
(None of this is new: I myself have done every single one of these things: started up new journals via chain letter, joined start-up editorial boards, published articles in start-up (and later discontinued) journals, etc. The only difference is that these practices, which are legitimate up to a point, as long as the motivation is scientific/scholarly and not financial or self-promotional, are now being taken to a grotesque extreme because of the ease of entry into online publishing and a perceived instability in the traditional journal publishing trade, owing to the growing clamor for OA.)
Dot-Gold startups will come and go, but alas the long wait for OA is still on, and these unwelcome diversions and digressions are not doing OA's image or progress any good at all. (And meanwhile Green OA self-archiving, from which there is no money to be made at all, still languishes, underexploited, waiting for its day...)
Richard Poynder is doing a great service by helping to distance OA explicitly from these tempting and growing abuses.
American Scientist Open Access Forum
Wednesday, July 9. 2008
In the context of Nature's just-announced offer to do proxy deposits for its authors, Peter Suber has asked Les Carr of EPrints to comment on whether the software has the capability of downloading and uploading deposits automatically, in batch mode, rather than just singly, with the keystrokes done by hand.
Les Carr's reply is affirmative:
"Both EPrints and DSpace allow batch uploads, but more to the point, both of them support the new SWORD [Simple Web-service Offering Repository Deposit] protocol for making automatic deposits in repositories. We (the SWORD developers) very much hope that we will be able to work with established discipline [i.e., central] repositories to allow automatic feed through of deposits from Institutional Repositories into Discipline Repositories and vice versa."
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