Sunday, June 28. 2009
If universities were to prove foolish enough to scrap their own Institutional Repositories, renouncing their efforts to reclaim custody of their own research assets at long last, to heed instead the siren call urging that they entrust them yet again to 3rd parties -- and commercial ones like scribd, to boot -- then, frankly, they are unsalvageable and deserve everything that's coming to them.
I don't for a minute, however, believe that the Academy would fall for this, having been once bitten, now twice shy, any more than they are falling for the concerted bid by some publishers to "leave the open-access archiving to us!"
Rather, this is a highly anomalous and dysfunctional era of academic "outsourcing" that is happily nearing its well-deserved end.
American Scientist Open Access Forum
Friday, June 26. 2009
Matthew Cockerill (BioMed Central) wrote in the American Scientist Open Access Forum:
MC: Stevan, You suggest that the announcement [full text appended below] text: "The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) now requires authors to publish research results into open access journals and also encourages dual submission into an institutional repository," represents, in your words "self-serving spin by a commercial journal publisher".Matt, The Press Release did come from BMC, not WLU, but as you assure me that the wording was not BMC's, I hereby withdraw the imputation of spin (and just suggest that BMC might vet its Press Releases more closely...)
But it is hardly a "nuance" that what CIHR requires is to make articles OA, and that this requirement can be fulfilled either by (Option #1) publishing in an OA journal (Gold OA) or by (option #2) self-archiving it in an OA Repository (Green OA). It is definitely both incorrect and misleading to state that CIHR requires publishing in a Gold OA journal and "encourages" Green OA self-archiving.
Logically speaking, "REQUIRE(X or Y)" definitely does not mean "REQUIRE(X) and ENCOURAGE(Y)"
And, as I said, the difference there is the difference between night and day.
If Wilfrid Laurier University (WLU) has such a foggy understanding of the CIHR mandate it is a unlikely that WLU will be able to help its researchers to comply with it. (I hope BMC's Open Repository Service gives them a clearer idea!)
MC: More generally: As far as I can tell, Wilfrid Laurier, the CIHR, the NIH, Wellcome, RCUK, JISC, BioMed Central and pretty much all other organizations seeking to encourage openness in scholarly communication see open digital repositories and open access journals as complementary partners, not the antagonistic opponents which they appear to be from your perspective.The fundamental underlying issue of Green/Gold complementarity vs. competition requires a somewhat deeper, hence lengthier analysis, I am afraid, if there is to be productive partnership. So what follows is a "functional anatomy" of the complementary between Green and Gold, with careful attention to the dynamics of their causal interaction, interdependency and timing, in place of just a vague notion of independent parallel progress.
It is not Green and Gold OA per se that are in conflict but some of the ways some proponents have portrayed and promoted them. Green and Gold OA themselves are indeed complementary, if their respective roles in providing OA itself are described and implemented in a clear, sensible and transparent way, serving the interests of OA itself.
First of all, there is no mandate, anywhere, by funders or institutions, to publish in Gold OA journals.
Authors must be allowed to choose where they publish. There can only be a mandate to make all articles OA -- and, as CIHR and RCUK have indicated, either way of making articles OA is OK with them.
But insofar as IRs are concerned, it should be obvious that it would be both arbitrary and absurd for institutions to mandate that only articles published in non-OA journals need to be deposited in their IRs! Moreover, insofar as WLU is concerned, CIHR is not their only funder, and their research is not only biomedical (nor is it all funded).
So from an institution's point of view -- if they actually take the time to think it through, and if they are given sound guidance by their Repository Service Provider, free of conflict of interest -- all their articles should be deposited in their IR, regardless of what journal they are published in.
And that, once one thinks it through, can only be described as a blanket Green OA policy for all institutional research article output. (I say policy, because WLU does not yet have a mandate, as far as I know.)
Institutions, being the universal providers of all research output, in all disciplines, funded and unfunded, will want all of their research to be deposited in their IRs and they will also want it all to be OA.
So far -- without any conflict or complementarity -- this is all just basic Green OA: "Deposit all articles in your institution's IR."
Now we come to the complementarity. One way to make absolutely sure that the articles you deposit in your IR are OA immediately upon acceptance for publication is to publish them in either (1) a Green (c. 63%) or (2) a Gold (c. 20%) journal. (This is CIHR's "option #2" and "option #1," respectively, but re-ordered in terms of percentage scope.)
For the rest of your articles, the option is (3) immediate deposit and Closed Access during the embargo period (though the IR's email eprint request Button will provide "Almost OA" during the embargo for all Closed Access deposits, and the preprint-plus-corrigenda can also be made immediately OA for a further 32% of journals).
That is basically all there is to the Green/Gold complementarity -- apart from one other thing:
The very existence of Gold OA journals (as Peter Suber and Stuart Shieber have frequently pointed out in promoting OA) is a valuable "proof of principle" that there does exist a viable alternative model for publishing, should subscriptions ever become unsustainable (e.g., if universal Green OA mandates eventually lead to cancellations that make subscriptions unsustainable). This Gold OA proof-of-principle helps allay the common worry that OA and OA mandates might make publishing itself unsustainable.
This proof of principle, however, comes at a price, because Gold OA itself (despite the oft-repeated -- and true -- datum that the majority of today's Gold OA journals do not charge a fee for publication) comes at a price, especially for the high-end Gold OA journals (such as the BMC and PLoS journals).
(Perhaps the Gold OA journals that are still making ends meet via subscriptions, without charging a publication fee, are also a proof of some sort of principle, but I don't think that most worriers about the future of publishing after universal Green OA mandates would find that principle very reassuring as a universal principle -- and even less so in the case of the subsidized Gold OA journals.)
Hence it is the publication-fee-based Gold OA journals like BMC and PLoS that are providing this helpful proof of principle today -- but at the price of also introducing a deterrent, today: the publication fee, which many don't want to pay today and many more cannot even afford.
I know both BMC and PLoS have exemptions for authors who are unable to pay, but that, like the self-sustaining subscription-based Gold OA journals, as well as the subsidized ones, is not reassuring enough to allay these counter-worries about whether Gold OA could successfully, affordably and sustainably scale to all journals if Green OA mandates make subscriptions unsustainable:
So the paid-Gold OA proof-of-principle to allay worries about how to recover publication costs if subscriptions become unsustainable is somewhat offset by counter-worries about affordability -- today. Most important -- and here we get to the point where some Green/Gold conflict does arise -- the straightforward and transparent way to describe this reality today is the following:
There is no need whatsoever to publish in a paid-Gold OA journal today -- if there is no suitable one, or one does not wish to, or one cannot afford to -- because OA can be provided for free, via Green OA (or Almost-OA) in all cases, without exception. (Then, if and when Green OA ever makes subscriptions unsustainable, subscription journals will convert to Gold OA, cutting obsolete costs by downsizing to just providing peer review, and the institutional windfall savings from the subscription cancellations will be more than enough to cover the costs of peer review via Gold OA fees.)
That is what Gold OA publishers -- even those that promote Repository Services -- cannot quite bring themselves to say, in describing the complementarity between Green and Gold OA, and I think this BMC Press Release is an example of that. The substantive relation between the Green and Gold aspects of all OA mandates is that each article must be deposited (i.e., Green) and the article may be Gold (when a suitable Gold journal exists, the author wishes to publish in it, and -- if the journal is paid-Gold OA -- the funds are available).
And the transition from subscription-based publishing to Gold OA is not a matter of adding more and more new Gold OA journals now, when what is needed is more OA, not more journals, when the money is still tied up in subscriptions, and when the asking price is still far too high. It is the release of the subscription funds by the conversion of the existing journals to Gold OA under "competition" from universal Green OA that will make the conversion to Gold OA possible, not direct competition to subscription journals from new rival Gold OA journals today, when Green OA can be had for free, and mandated, without having to switch journals or pay extra for Gold OA
It is precisely this all-important essence of the causal and temporal dynamics of the complementarity between Green and Gold OA that was turned upside down in this BMC Press Release. And such reversals of both fact and logic are antagonistic not only to the growth and understanding of OA itself (and not just Green OA) but to the logic and pragmatics of OA mandates.
One last point: As WLU does not yet have its own institutional mandate, we are talking only about the CIHR mandate. The CIHR mandate -- which, like most funder mandates, has not yet looked carefully enough at the broader OA picture, and is focused exclusively on the fate of the articles it has itself funded -- has indeed improved on the NIH mandate by stipulating that the mandated deposit can be made in any OA Repository, not necessarily in a specific central repository like PubMed Central, as NIH currently stipulates.
This is an improvement on the current NIH mandate, but it is not enough. And that is why it would be helpful if CIHR were to be still more specific, and stipulate that the fundee's own IR is to be the default locus of deposit. The reason is to converge with and reinforce institutional OA mandates, rather than to compete with or complicate them. The overarching idea is to make all research OA, not just the research a particular funder funds; and for that, funder mandates need to facilitate mandates by the universal providers of all research: the institutions (the "still-slumbering giant" of OA).
It is because the CIHR mandate is still vague about this all-important constraint that CIHR leaves it ambiguous as to whether, in the case of fulfilling its OA mandate by publishing in a Gold OA journal, it is sufficient simply to do that, and not deposit it in an IR at all -- because it is already OA on the publisher's website. This is just as bad, because if makes institutional and funder OA mandates diverge and complicate mandate implementation and fulfillment, rather than converge and synergize, just as mandating central deposit instead of IR deposit does.
Failing to stipulate that there must be convergent IR deposit in both cases also encourages the notion that it's a matter of either Green OA self-archiving or Gold OA publishing, rather than self-archiving in the IR in both cases. Again, this is what the BMC Open Repository Service should be clarifying for WLU, if the common objective is full IRs and universal OA rather than just the promotion of Gold OA. This too is where a bland and blind invocation of "complementarity" will not do, and the devil is in the details.
[Alma Swan has just done a posting, and I've done a follow-up, about a related implementation problem with some of the current funder mandates such as Wellcome's: It is fundees who are being mandated, and whose compliance is being monitored, not publishers. Hence it enormously (and needlessly) complicates the monitoring of mandate-compliance if it is publishers (whether pure-Gold, hybrid-Gold "Open Choice," or subscription-based) who are expected to do the depositing (or merely the hosting) of the OA article, rather than the fundee. This becomes even more obvious in the case of institutional mandates: The complementary, convergent policy would be a uniform requirement -- expressed by both funder mandates and institutional mandates -- to deposit in the author's IR, with the author (or the author's institutional assigns) responsible for making the deposit, rather than a divergent policy in which compliance depends on third parties, in some repository or other.]
MC: BioMed Central is engaged in multiple collaborations with the academic community to develop efficient and manageable ways to automatically populate instutional repositories with authoritative final versions of articles immediately upon publication, and this seems to us (and to our institutional partners) to offer an extremely productive way forwards."Authoritative final versions"? This too sounds like a counterproductive criterion (possibly motivated by Gold-OA thinking): The reason the vast majority of OA mandates -- both funder mandates and institutional mandates -- specify that it is the author's refereed final draft that must be deposited, and not necessarily the publisher's authoritative version, is that most of the 63% of journals that are fully Green endorse making the author's final refereed draft immediately OA, but not the publisher's proprietary version. This makes OA mandates much easier to adopt and comply with than if they insisted on the publisher's version.
Nor is there any need for the publisher's proprietary version to be deposited, in order to provide 100% OA. The author's refereed, accepted final draft is enough; it is available immediately upon acceptance, and it is hence the natural default draft to stipulate in mandates as well as pre-mandate policies. The publisher's authoritative version is of course welcome too, just as publishing in a Gold OA journal is welcome -- but they are not only not necessary, but focusing instead on them is antagonistic to the rapid and smooth adoption and implementation of OA policies and mandates. If BMC's Open Repository Service is targeting the publisher's version instead, then it is giving institutions unsound advice, at odds with what will generate the most OA, the most quickly and efficiently.
MC: By developing 'Gold' open access journals alongside institutional repositories, a smooth path to a fully open access future for scholarly research communication is created.The smooth path that OA needs to take is it to 100% OA itself. The "future for scholarly communication" is another matter, a longer story. If the future of scholarly communication is (among other things) to be Gold OA (and I do think it is) then the smoothness of even that longer path will be paved and accelerated by Green OA mandates (the only kind of OA that can be mandated). In other words, the path to Gold OA is via Green OA.
MC: In contrast, your suggestion:Not at all, and it is extremely important that we understand one another on this point, for it is crucial to understanding the causal and temporal dynamic of the Green/Gold complementarity:"Green OA will no longer be in competition with Gold OA once Green OA mandates have prevailed globally, and if and when the resulting universal Green OA eventually induces a universal transition to Gold OA by making subscriptions unsustainable."implies that you hope (optimistically) that Gold OA journals would appear instantaneously out of nowhere, as soon as the level of uptake of Green OA reaches a level at which it causes a dramatic collapse of subscriptions.
No, new Gold OA journals need not appear instantaneously out of nowhere: it is existing journals that will be forced to convert to Gold OA if and when Green OA makes subscriptions unsustainable.
If and when universally mandated Green OA begins to cause cancellation pressure on subscriptions, there is no reason whatsoever to suppose that the effect will be an immediate dramatic collapse. Nor does it require any new journals to replace the existing ones. Cancellation pressure will cause cost-cutting and the phasing out of inessential products and services by the existing journals. The first of these cuts will of course be the print edition itself. But it will not stop there, for cancellations are predicated on the fact that users are ready to rely on the Green version -- the refereed final draft, self-archived in the distributed network of IRs. That means the next thing to be phased out will be access-provision and archiving. That will leave peer review as the sole remaining service that a journal needs to provide.
This is definitely not the case with Gold OA publishing today: Some or all of these extra products/services and their expenses are bundled into the current asking price for Gold OA. That -- together with the fact that the potential institutional money to pay for Gold OA is still tied up in institutional subscriptions -- is what makes Gold OA a deterrent for OA mandate growth today. And it is precisely the gradual increase of cancellation pressure as Green OA grows that will force the downsizing and cost-cutting that will in turn make Gold OA affordable, while also releasing the subscription funds to pay for it.
Moreover, a conversion to universal Gold OA does not at all mean adding 25,000 new Gold OA journals to replace the 25,000 existing subscription journals, as some seem to imagine (again without really trying to think it through). It is a matter of converting the existing journals to Gold, as they phase out their now-obsolete products and services (because of Green OA IRs) and downsize to peer review (and its far lower cost) alone, under cancellation pressure on their own journals. And of course the journal titles, refereeships, authorships and track-records of the journals currently published by any publishers who may no longer be interested in staying in the business if they need to downsize to just peer review on the Gold OA model will simply migrate to other publishers that are interested, just as journal titles migrate today, for many different reasons.
What is also likely to shrink or even disappear alongside this downsizing and conversion to Gold OA under cancellation pressure generated by Green OA is fleet publishing of multiple journals: The current mounting complaints about Gold-OA journal-fleet start-ups that spam authors and referees, with ill-matched and unqualified referees -- and similar shoddy refereeing practices among subscription-based journal-fleet publishers -- are likely to put an end to the practice of fleet publishing altogether in the Gold OA era. All a journal needs, once all it is providing is peer review, is a qualified editor selecting qualified referees and competently adjudicating the reports and revisions. A part-time editorial assistant and powerful online software can handle the mechanics of submission and revision flow. And all of that is what the Gold OA peer-review charges will pay for. There is no real need to be part of a fleet of unrelated journals in order to provide that service.
MC: Surely the progressive, side-by-side development of Green OA repositories, and the Gold OA journals needed (by your own acknowledgement) to make a fully open model of peer-reviewed scholarly communication long-term sustainable in the absence of subscriptions, is preferable for all concerned to the dramatic crisis-driven transition which you envision?On the contrary. The gradual cost-cutting and conversion of the existing, established journals to peer-review alone, under cancellation pressure from the new reality of universal Green OA, is precisely what is needed to get us from here to there. Neither today's Gold OA journals' products nor their prices reflect what post-Green-OA publishing will be like; nor can today's Gold OA journals do just performing peer review alone until the network of Green OA repositories is sufficiently widespread to be able to take over all access-provision and archiving. Nor will today's subscription journals downsize and convert spontaneously, without the cancellation pressure.
So whether one's goal is just immediate universal Green OA or an eventual transition to sustainable, affordable universal Gold OA, the path to it is via Green OA mandates, not the creation of more and more new Gold OA journals trying to compete with established subscription journals at current prices with today's co-bundled products and services. If that were the only hope of reaching universal OA, we'd still have a long, long wait ahead of us.
Fortunately, it is beginning to look as if all that's needed is to straighten out a few persistent misunderstanding about how to implement OA mandates effectively -- which includes gaining a much clearer understanding of the causal and temporal dynamics of the complementarity between Green and Gold OA -- and the wait (for both universal Green OA and the subsequent transition to universal Gold OA) will not be that long.
Thursday, June 25. 2009
There is a very simple fix for the (self-created) problem of "noncompliant" publishers -- i.e., those who are paid for Gold OA by funders like Wellcome and then fail to deposit the paid-up article:
Gold OA fees are paid for Gold OA. That means the publisher makes the article OA on his own website (and, of course, since all Gold OA journals are also Green, the Gold OA publisher also endorses immediate Green OA self-archiving by the author in any repositories he chooses).
Let us not castigate publishers if they do not immediately also jump through the arbitrary hoop of further depositing their Gold OA article in some designated repository or other on behalf of the author or the funder. That is an extra (and as far as I know, it is not part of the definition of Gold OA publication, nor of the service that the Gold OA publisher is being paid to provide).
So if not the publisher, who is at fault if the article fails to be deposited?
(I pause to let you reflect a few moments...)
Well of course the fault is the absurd, again-not-thought-through mandate requiring fundees to make their articles OA, but relying on a 3rd party (unfunded by the funder, and merely paid to make the article OA) to do the deposit!
Not only does that make no sense at all for Gold OA articles, but it also makes compliance and grant fulfillment a gratuitously complicated overall affair, complicated to comply with, even more complicated to monitor compliance with. For articles published in non-OA journals, the fundee must do the deposit; for articles published in Gold OA journals (or only those that are paid-OA? or only those whose paid-OA is paid by the funder?) the publisher must do the deposit.
I truly hope that the sensible reader will see at once that the rational way for a funder to mandate deposit is to put the onus for compliance exclusively on the grantee and the grantee's institution, as with all other funding conditions, rather than to offload it willy-nilly onto non-grantee 3rd parties (whose services may be paid for, but who certainly are not being paid for repository deposit but for Gold OA publishing).
And while we're at it, this is yet another reason why the locus of the default repository for direct deposit specified by the funder should be the grantee's own Institutional Repository (IR) and not, again, institution-external repositories. For with local, one-stop deposit, the institution can collaborate, as usual, in ensuring compliance with grant fulfillment conditions, by monitoring the deposits in its own repository, making sure that every grant-funded article has been deposited, regardless of whether it happens to be published in a Gold or non-Gold journal. (And, as a bonus, the institution is then also more likely to go on to adopt an IR deposit mandate of its own, for the rest of its research output, in all fields, whether or not funded by that funder.)
Chasing after 3rd parties -- whether publishers or institution-external repositories -- creates gratuitous complications for absolutely no extra gain, only needless extra pain.
Is there any hope at all that funders who have committed to these dysfunctional and counterproductive stipulations will be enlightened enough to fix them at this point (it's easy) rather than (as I fear), just digging in deeper with a "harrumph" and "we know what we're doing" and "mind your own business"...?
With a sigh of resignation,
Your weary archivangelist
PS If you want to find the origin of much of this easily remedied confusion, look again at that mixed blessing, the well-meaning, timely, welcome and highly influential -- but relentlessly unreflective -- ebiomed proposal and its subsequent incarnations across the years...
Tuesday, June 23. 2009
Université de Genève Institutional Mandate
OA Repository: growth data
Institution's OA Self-Archiving Policy:
Les collaborateurs-trices de l'enseignement et de la recherche, doivent déposer une version électronique finale de toutes leurs publications dans l'Archive sous réserve du respect des droits des tiers.
Monday, June 22. 2009
Stuart Basefsky, Senior Reference Librarian at Cornell, writes, in The End of Institutional Repositories & the Beginning of Social Academic Research Service: An Enhanced Role For Libraries:
"In building IRs, the evidence is clear that their mere existence does not translate into use. Hence the necessity to come up with Harvard-like mandates to force compliance of faculty. The social, academic foundation for cooperation and active participation in IR efforts was overlooked. However, a lesson can be learned from these failings..."(1) Stuart Basefsky seems to count mandating IR deposit -- a strategy that has been demonstrated to be successful in filling IRs -- as a "failing." One wonders why?
(2) Alma Swan's author surveys (unmentioned by Basefsky) have shown that most researchers report they do not yet deposit their papers in their IRs, but if deposit were mandated by their institutions or funders, 95% of them say they would deposit, 14% of them reluctantly, 81% willingly.
(3) Arthur Sale's outcome studies (likewise unmentioned) have shown that researchers actually do as they say they would, and in about two years an IR with a deposit mandate is well on the way to filling.
(4) Of the 768 IRs registered in ROAR -- the overwhelming majority of them very far from full -- Cornell's are not in the top 10%.
(5) Nor is Cornell as yet one of the 51 institutions and departments (and 36 funders) that have adopted a deposit mandate.
(6) The failing, it seems to me, is that of the mere existence of IRs failing to be sufficient to fill them.
(7) The lesson, it seems to me, is that deposit mandates successfully fill them.
(8) And the IR usage stats and OA impact advantage are the evidence that full IRs are heavily used.
(9) Stuart Basefsky's article lists many promising things an IR can do to make itself more useful.
(10) But he seems to regard the most important of them -- mandating deposit -- as a "failing."
(11) And he does not seem to realize that if an IR fails to fill itself with its own institutional research output, it may be some sort of an online information resource, but it is not an IR.
American Scientist Open Access Forum
ROARMAP now lists 87 Green OA mandates. Roehampton University's is the latest.
(Twenty-four thesis mandates have also been registered since the invitation to register those as well was announced at ETD 2009, but this is still an underestimate: please do register your institution's mandate if it has one!)
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