Sunday, October 30. 2011
They just keep coming, almost daily, pre-emptively spamming all the people we had been hoping to win over to Open Access.
Not only is it regrettable that OA is so unthinkingly identified in most people's minds with gold OA publishing in general, but this growing spate of relentless fool's-gold junk-OA spamming in particular is now coalescing with that misconception -- and at the same time more and more universities and funders are reaching into their scarce funds to pay for this kind of thing, thinking this is the way to provide OA.
(Meanwhile, green OA mandates, the real solution, are still hovering at about 200 out of about 10,000 (2%!) -- and mostly needlessly watered-down mandates. I wish I could figure out a way to turn this liability -- fool's-gold spam and scam -- into an asset for spreading green mandates, but I'm afraid that even Richard Poynder's critical articles are being perceived mostly as critical of OA itself rather than just of fool's-gold OA.)
The real culprits are not the ones trying to make a buck out of this current spike in pay-to-publish-or-perish/gold-fever co-morbidity, but the researchers themselves, who can't put 2+2 together and provide green OA on their own, cost-free; and their institutions and funders, who can't put 2+2 together and mandate that they do it.
Instead of thinking, it's easier to shell out for fool's gold...
Richard's exposés are helpful, but I think they are not enough to open people's eyes.
So all we can do is hope that the spamming itself will become so blatant and intrusive that it will wake people up to the fact that this is not the way to provide OA...
PS Not only do I not work on anything faintly resembling "proteomics/bioinformatics" but I have no "relationship with OMICS Group" (except possibly prior complaints about spam)! These spam disclaimers are a lark. They seem to be using professional spam services that try to appear respectable.
Saturday, October 29. 2011
In "Open Access Doubts" Eric F. Van de Velde lists some doubts about open access (OA).
There are very simple answers to each of Eric's doubts. The doubts arise mostly from a library-based rather than a research-based perception of the OA problem and its solution.
There is only one doubt that is most definitely justified, though Eric has not expressed it: Researchers themselves -- even though they and their research are the primary losers because of access-denial, and the primary beneficiaries of providing OA -- are not providing OA in sufficient numbers until and unless it is mandated by their institutions and funders.
That does raise some doubts, but not about the feasibility or benefits of OA -- only about the alertness of researchers to their own needs and the way to meet them.
EV:Affordable is not better than free because even if journal subscriptions were sold at cost, with no profit margin at all, not all or even most institutions could afford to subscribe to all or even most peer-reviewed journals.
The purpose of OA is to provide online access to all would-be users, not just to those whose institutions can afford a subscription to the journal in which it was published.
Eric is conflating the journal affordability and the research accessibility problems.
EV:No, researchers are not being denied access to peer-reviewed research because of "inexpertly formatted content and bad, incomplete, and non-public (!) metadata" but because of content to which (a) their institution cannot afford access and (b) that has not been made OA at all.
It is librarians who worry about formatting and metadata! Researchers worry about inaccessible content.
EV:Cost is not the OA problem: Access-denial is. Lowering cost is a library's goal. Gaining access is the user's need. And even lowering prices to cost-without-any-profit does not remedy access-denial
EV:No, the root of the problem is access-denial and the solution is access-provision. And the way to provide OA is for authors to self-archive their refereed final drafts ("green OA"). And the way to ensure that authors self-archive is to mandate it.
EV:Instead of mandating green OA (cost-free), cancel all subscriptions and give the funds to researchers, and the market will take care of the rest?
Eric, when many of us are struggling to get something concrete and practical that has already been tried, tested, and proven effective -- namely, green OA mandates -- to be implemented by more institutions after 15 years of needlessly lost research access and impact, I don't think this is the opportune time to try or even contemplate rather speculative hypotheses!
EV:If "release hidden information" (1) means provide online access to refereed research to which access is currently denied to users at non-subscribing institutions, then this is the one and only fundamental rationale for OA, and has been ever since the online era made it feasible. (But I'm afraid this might not even be what Eric means by "release hidden information"!)
EV:An institution's scholarly record is already "archived" in the journals in which is was published (3) (all of them are now online and archived at the publisher's toll-gated website). The trouble is that the institution itself has no record of its own research output. (Mandating green OA provides that.)
OA doesn't just speed up research communication and progress (4), it maximizes research progress (by making it accessible to researchers who are otherwise denied access). That's not just speed: it's access and hence uptake, usage and impact.
And the purpose of OA is to provide free access for all would-be users, whether or not their institutions can afford paid access to the publisher's version of record. Access to the author's refereed final draft (5) may sound like less than perfect for a librarian, but it is the difference between night and day for an otherwise access-denied researcher.
EV:This is a profound error and misunderstanding: The fundamental reason for providing OA is to "release" published information that was only accessible to users at subscribing institutions rather than to all would-be users. It is not about information that had "no suitable distribution platform." (Although pre-refereeing papers, other kinds of research content, and even the "grey" literature are all welcome in repositories too, OA's first and foremost target content is refereed, published research.)
EV:Eric is conflating "gold" OA publishing with green OA self-archiving here: Green OA is a supplement, not a substitute, for refereed research journals. No "credible alternative intended": just a remedy for access-denial.
And the goal of OA itself is not to "rein in journal prices" but to provide online access for all users, not just the ones whose institutions can afford the journal prices.
So Eric is again conflating the problem of journal affordability with the problem of research accessibility.
EV:Without lowering prices, access-denial to users whose institutions cannot afford subscriptions is irrelevant?
Keep paying their subscriptions and journals will provide access for those who can't afford to pay for it?
Perhaps what Eric means is that if all subscribing institutions promised to keep paying the asking price in perpetuo, then journals would agree to make all their contents OA?
But who would (or could) make such a (foolish) promise?
EV:The HEP community is the only one in the world that has already provided (green) OA for itself without the need for a mandate. Hence there is effectively no more access denial worldwide for the HEP subset of the journal literature. The HEP community has effectively solved its accessibility problem.
What the HEP community does as a follow-up, to address the affordability problem, is of far less concern and relevance to the rest of the scholarly and scientific community, which is still afflicted with access denial (and its resulting loss in research usage, progress and impact). What the non-HEP world needs is OA.
But it should be mentioned that the SCOAP3 project is effectively the one that I called into question above: No institution can or will guarantee that it will keep paying for subscriptions in perpetuo. So the jury is still out on whether such a scheme is sustainable. But we already know it is not scalable beyond HEP, because the non-HEP world has not yet even taken the first essential step, which is to provide green OA.
That's why green OA mandates are needed.
Publishing reform will take care of itself after OA has (green) become universal -- not before.
EV:SCOAP3 is a consortial "membership" solution about whose sustainability and scalability there are, as noted, good reasons to have doubts.
But it is irrelevant. Because HEP already has (green) OA, unmandated, whereas the rest of the scholarly and scientific world does not.
EV:Harnad, S. (2010) No-Fault Peer Review Charges: The Price of Selectivity Need Not Be Access Denied or Delayed. D-Lib Magazine 16 (7/8).
ABSTRACT:Plans by universities and research funders to pay the costs of Open Access Publishing ("Gold OA") are premature. Funds are short; 80% of journals (including virtually all the top journals) are still subscription-based, tying up the potential funds to pay for Gold OA; the asking price for Gold OA is still high; and there is concern that paying to publish may inflate acceptance rates and lower quality standards. What is needed now is for universities and funders to mandate OA self-archiving (of authors' final peer-reviewed drafts, immediately upon acceptance for publication) ("Green OA"). That will provide immediate OA; and if and when universal Green OA should go on to make subscriptions unsustainable (because users are satisfied with just the Green OA versions) that will in turn induce journals to cut costs (print edition, online edition, access-provision, archiving), downsize to just providing the service of peer review, and convert to the Gold OA cost-recovery model; meanwhile, the subscription cancellations will have released the funds to pay these residual service costs. The natural way to charge for the service of peer review then will be on a "no-fault basis," with the author's institution or funder paying for each round of refereeing, regardless of outcome (acceptance, revision/re-refereeing, or rejection). This will minimize cost while protecting against inflated acceptance rates and decline in quality standards.
Harnad, S. (2011) Gold Open Access Publishing Must Not Be Allowed to Retard the Progress of Green Open Access Self-Archiving. Logos 21(3-4): 86-93
ABSTRACT:Universal Open Access (OA) is fully within the reach of the global research community: Research institutions and funders need merely mandate (green) OA self-archiving of the final, refereed drafts of all journal articles immediately upon acceptance for publication. The money to pay for gold OA publishing will only become available if universal green OA eventually makes subscriptions unsustainable. Paying for gold OA pre-emptively today, without first having mandated green OA not only squanders scarce money, but it delays the attainment of universal OA.
EV:Eric, I know (and an old friend and comrade-at-arms!)...
EV:Me too (though I've been discouraged about that for about 15 years now...).
EV:Independent of OA. (So who's conflating now? Your doubts were billed as being about OA, not about the cost of scholarly publishing...
EV:The affordability problem: not the accessibility problem.
EV:Speculative or non-speculative, it is not the research accessibility problem, and it does not solve it.
EV:The way to get everyone to join is for all institutions and funders to mandate it.
EV:What is too difficult to use? I have no trouble using the OA content that's there. The problem is that most of it (85%) isn't there. That's why the mandates are needed.
EV:You're right, so now EnablingOpenScholarship (EOS) is working to guide institutions on how to optimize those mandates by getting rid of their loopholes: http://bit.ly/EOSoaPolicy
EV:My patience ran out long ago! (For some perverse reason, I'm still plugging away at it...)
EV:And it is not intended to. It is intended to solve the access problem of researchers.
EV:1. Green OA's cost per paper deposited is negligible. With 100% deposit (because of 100% mandates), even lower.
2. Green OA, if mandated, can provide 100% OA, solving 100% of the accessibility problem.
3. The journal affordability problem is not the same problem, and we've agreed not to conflate them (remember?).
EV:That's their problem and their look-out (because we've agreed not to conflate, right?). I've many times cautioned that SCOAP3 is premature, unnecessary, unscalable and unsustainable. But I don't care if I'm ignored: I'm too busy being ignored on how to solve the accessibility problem to worry about being ignored on how not to solve the affordability problem!
EV:An implicit promise there are strong reasons to expect that they cannot and will not keep, in the long term: http://bit.ly/ScoapCope But, again, that's another problem, not my problem, not the accessibility problem.
EV:Academics (and research itself) both need peer review. Journals provide the peer review. (In the online era, they need no longer provide access and the archival record, but they do that too. Eventually they won't have to.) But just as OA is not the journal affordability problem, it is not the problem of the future of publishing either. Green OA changes none of this: It just solves the accessibility problem.
EV:They are right.
EV:This is a bit simplistic: Researchers want their quality journals, and they want the journals they read and publish in (all three are not always the same). Providing (and mandating) green OA does not change any of this (though it might eventually induce downsizing to peer review alone, and conversion to the gold OA model to recover peer review's much lower costs):
Harnad, S. (2007) The Green Road to Open Access: A Leveraged Transition. In: The Culture of Periodicals from the Perspective of the Electronic Age, pp. 99-105, L'Harmattan.
EV:How have you managed to draw me into a discussion of journal pricing and affordability, Eric, when we had agreed we were not going to conflate that with the OA problem? ;>)
EV:But Eric, I'm also strongly in favor of putting an end to our unnecessary and cruel slaughter of animals in order to please our palates - but I don't conflate that with OA either! Why must I speculate about the scholarly-journal business when all I want is that institutions and funders should mandate green OA self-archiving?
Monday, October 24. 2011
... And it's the right mandate: Immediate-Deposit/Optional-Access (ID/OA). (The embargo ceiling -- 18 months -- is a bit too high, but that's minor, compared to the splendid and timely example set by adopting the optimal mandate.) Gefeliciteerd, Nederland!
Thursday, October 20. 2011
My friend Eric Van de Velde, who did so much for the growth of Open Access at Cal Tech across the years, has just (over)generously credited the birth of the Open Access (OA) Movement to the birth of the Open Archives Initiative (OAI).
I hate to have to throw a blanket on this 12th birthday parade, but the birth of the Open Archives Initiative (OAI) (a protocol for making online bibliographic databases -- initially called "archives," later re-baptised "repositories"-- interoperable) in 1999 certainly was not the birth of the Open Access Movement.
Either the Open Access Movement began (as I prefer to think) in the '80s or perhaps even the '70s, when (some) researchers first began making their papers freely accessible online in anonymous FTP archives, or it began with the Budapest Open Access Initiative (BOAI) (2001), where the term "Open Access (OA)" was first coined (a few months after the first meeting, just as "Open Archives" had been coined a few months after the Santa Fe meeting).
Nothing here to compete in primacy for, however, since the progress of the OA movement has been dismayingly slow, ever since, and still is, to this very day.
But it's particularly ironic to see the origins of the OA movement (warts and all) attributed to OAI when in fact the idea of freeing the refereed research literature from access toll barriers was very explicitly (and exceedingly rudely) disavowed by the prime organizer of the three organizers of the Santa Fe meeting. The archival record for this seems to have disappeared, but I've saved the two postings from which the following is excerpted:
Tue, 30 Nov 1999 20:14:30 -0700The rest of the posting expands on these sentiments:
Wednesday, October 5. 2011
Reply: One Big Thing Holding Open Access Back is Calling and Treating it as "Open Access Publishing"
Yes, it is an indisputable fact that open access (OA) is not growing nearly as quickly as it can and should, despite (1) OA's equally indisputable benefits to research, researchers, research institutions, research funders, the R&D industry, and the tax-paying public that supports the research, and despite (2) the likewise indisputable fact that 100% OA has been fully and easily within the reach of the worldwide research community -- at no extra cost and only a extra few keystrokes' worth of effort -- for over two decades now.
But one of the big things holding back OA progress is calling it, thinking of it and treating it as "OA publishing." It is not. OA means providing free online access to research journal articles, but trying to reform publishing by converting the journals into OA journals ("Gold OA") is just one of the ways to provide OA, and certainly neither the simplest, the easiest, the surest, the fastest nor the most direct way.
The simplest, easiest, surest, fastest and most direct way of making journal articles OA is for their authors to make them freely accessible online by self-archiving them on the web, free for all, immediately upon acceptance for publication by whatever journal they publish them in ("Green OA").
Yes, it still remains a puzzle -- indeed a koan -- why authors have not been doing this spontaneously, ever since the advent of the web, of their own accord. (Only about 20% of them have been doing so.) The persistent misconception and misrepresentation of OA as being synonymous with just Gold OA publishing is one of the reasons ("gold fever").
And yes, providing more information, and more accurate information, rather than misinformation to the researcher-authors and the research community certainly helps. But neither information-gathering (through researcher surveys) nor information dissemination (through researcher alerting) will solve the problem of the glacially slow growth of OA. Nor will further brain-storming among "stake-holders" -- (1) researchers, (2) their institutional management, (3) their institutional libraries, (4) their research funders, (5) the tax-payers who support the research and, least of all, (6) publishers (who are not really stake-holders in OA and its benefits at all, but just service-providers trying to preserve their current, ample revenue streams while trying to avoid conflict with their authors' expressed and perceived interests).
The solution to the problem of authors' slowness in providing OA spontaneously is already known, and has already been tried, tested, and proven to work: institutions (2) and funders (4) need to mandate (i.e., require) Green OA self-archiving by their researchers (1) for their own good, as well as for the good of research impact and progress:
After 20 years of needless, cumulative loss in research impact and progress, there's no need for still more surveys and soul-searching. The hand-writing is on the wall (not in the anecdotal musings of an individual surveyed chemist or classicist):
Green OA self-archiving simply has to be made into official policy by the only two stake-holders in a position to do so: institutions (2) and funders (4). Librarians (3) already know this; researchers (1) are clearly waiting for an official policy from their institutions and funders, making Green OA self-archiving mandatory in the online era, otherwise they will not bother (or dare) to do it for yet another 20 years; tax-payers (5) can do nothing directly; and publishers (6) are just reluctantly along for the ride: Mandating Green OA is in the hands of the research community alone.
Sunday, October 2. 2011
Well, either everyone was so inspired by my 14 points on "What is open access and how to provide it?" that they are busy implementing them right now, or else my 14 points did not even succeed in inspiring objections!
In any case, here are the replies to the 14 prima facie objections to my own 14 points that I myself raised:
1. What evidence is there that "research is losing potential usage and impact" because "articles are only accessible to users at institutions that can afford to subscribe to the journal in which they were published"?The evidence (longstanding) that institutions can only afford to subscribe to a small and shrinking fraction of journals is here.
The evidence that making articles OA significantly increases both downloads and citations is here.
2. Who says "there are two ways to provide OA" [green OA self-archiving of non-OA journal articles or publishing in a gold OA journals]? Why can't researchers just post articles online instead of publishing them in a journal at all?Because OA's target content is peer-reviewed research publications, not unrefereed self-publication
3. Why is only green OA "in the hands of the research community"? Can't the research community just stop publishing in and subscribing to journals that don't convert to gold OA?34,000 biologists tried the latter, 10 years ago, and it failed (predictably, because there was no viable alternative -- and there still isn't one).
4. Why is it that only "green OA can be mandated by the research community"? Can't the research community just stop publishing in and subscribing to journals that don't convert to gold OA?See 3, above.
5. Why are publication costs paid only by "institutions, through journal subscriptions." What about individual subscribers?Individual subscriptions provide a only a small fraction of journal income; it is institutional subscriptions that sustain peer-reviewed journals.
6. What ensures that the "funds to pay for gold OA" will be used for that purpose, if they are no longer "locked into institutional journal subscriptions"?Necessity is the mother of invention. If and when mandated green OA makes subscriptions unsustainable, some of the annual windfall cancellation savings will be spent on books and other institutional necessities, but paying for publication will become an institutional necessity too. Its cost, however -- my guess is about $200 per round of refereeing, with "no-fault peer review" -- will be low enough so the solution will be a no-brainer.
7. Why is it "a waste of… funds to pay pre-emptively for gold OA today." OA is OA, isn't it?OA is OA, but publication is already being paid for by institutional subscriptions. And green OA can be provided for free, by mandating it, whereas the money to pay for gold OA is still locked in subscriptions.
(But if an institution or funder has the extra cash to spare, there's no harm in paying pre-emptive gold OA fees for as much research output as they can afford today -- as long as they mandate green OA for all of it first.)
8. Why does "the research community… need to mandate green OA"? If they need/want OA so much, can't they just provide it, unmandated?This is a fair question -- indeed it amounts to a koan. The malady is known as " Xeno's Paralysis." There are at least 38 known causes, all easily curable. The problem is rampant symptom transfer, and pandemic recidivism... The virus seems to be a rapidly mutating one. Oa difficile.
9. How is it that "universal green OA" makes "journal affordability… far, far less important and urgent"? Journals still need to be paid for, don't they?Institutional subscriptions are paying the cost of journal publication today. If and when mandated green OA makes subscriptions unsustainable, it will release those funds to pay for gold OA.
10. How do institutions know whether "users find universal green OA sufficient for their usage needs" so they can "cancel the subscriptions in which they were locked"?When their users tell them they don't need the subscriptions any more, because they can access the free green OA versions online, and that is enough for their purposes. (This will not happen journal by journal, because green OA grows anarchically, across journals; it will only happen once green OA is at or near 100%, globally.)
11. How do we know that all "institutions will have the… subscription [cancelation] savings [to] pay the gold OA publishing costs for their individual outgoing articles"? Won't those that have more "individual outgoing articles" be paying more?After green OA has becomes universal, the essential publication costs will shrink radically (no more need for paper edition, online edition, access-provision, or archiving). The sole remaining essential cost will be peer review. Once this is charged on a no-fault basis (per round of review) rather than per publication (charging all the rejected papers to the accepted authors, like a shop-lifting surcharge). Its annual cost -- my guess is about $200 per round of refereeing, with "no-fault peer review" -- will be far lower than the annual windfall subscription cancelation savings of even the most research-active universities.
12. If publishers "phas[e] out… print editions… and offload access provision and archiving (and their costs) onto… institutional repositories…[and] the green OA version… becom[es] the… version of record," don't institutions still bear the costs? And is the author's final draft fit for the record?Institutions pay only the costs of peer review. The costs of producing the publisher's print and online editions are gone. And the costs of access-provision and archiving are distributed across the global network of institutional repositories, which are a part of essential institutional online infrastructure (serving many other purposes besides OA). The fraction of that infrastructure cost per paper will be negligible.
13. "If publishing costs… scale down to just… peer review," what keeps those costs from rising -- and keeps the peer review quality standards from falling?Peers review for free. Charging for peer review on a no-fault basis (per round of review) rather than per publication (charging all the rejected papers to the accepted authors) eliminates the publisher's temptation to lower standards so as to publish more papers and make more money. The charge per round of no-fault peer review (about $200) will be kept fair by inter-journal competition. If anything, it will be the higher-standard peer review that will cost more, because meeting the standards of the higher quality journals will confer more value.
14. Why do "institutions and funders [need to] mandat[e] green OA first, rather than [just] paying… for gold OA? Can't the research community just stop publishing in and subscribing to journals that don't convert to gold OA?See 3, above.
Saturday, October 1. 2011
Like its Harvard model, Princeton Open Access Policy needs to add immediate-deposit requirement, with no waiver option
1. First, congratulations to Princeton University (my graduate alma mater!) for adopting an open access mandate: a copyright-reservation policy, adopted by unanimous faculty vote.
2. Princeton is following in the footsteps of Harvard in adopting the copyright-reservation policy pioneered by Stuart Shieber and Peter Suber.
3. I hope that Princeton will now also follow in the footsteps of Harvard by adding an immediate-deposit requirement with no waiver option to its copyright-reservation mandate, as Harvard has done.
4. The Princeton copyright-reservation policy, like the Harvard copyright-reservation policy, can be waived if the author wishes: This is to allow authors to retain the freedom to choose where to publish, even if the journal does not agree to the copyright-reservation.
5. Adding an immediate-deposit clause, with no opt-out waiver option, retains all the properties and benefits of the copyright-reservation policy while ensuring that all articles are nevertheless deposited in the institutional repository upon publication, with no exceptions: Access to the deposited article can be embargoed, but deposit itself cannot; access is a copyright matter, deposit is not.
6. Depositing all articles upon publication, without exception, is crucial to reaching 100% open access with certainty, and as soon as possible; hence it is the right example to set for the many other universities worldwide that are now contemplating emulating Harvard and Princeton by adopting open access policies of their own; copyright reservation alone, with opt-out, is not.
7. The reason it is imperative that the deposit clause must be immediate and without a waiver option is that, without that, both when and whether articles are deposited at all is indeterminate: With the added deposit requirement the policy is a mandate; without it, it is just a gentleman/scholar's agreement.
[Footnote: Princeton's open access policy is also unusual in having been adopted before Princeton has created an open access repository for its authors to deposit in: It might be a good idea to create the repository as soon as possible so Princeton authors can get into the habit of practising what they pledge from the outset...]
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