Monday, December 31. 2012
I’ve just read the timely recent observations in Hungarian Spectrum by Princeton University's international constitutional scholar, Professor Kim Lane Scheppele, as well as her earlier excellent lecture on the new Hungarian constitution (delivered at CEU nearly a year ago).
Professor Scheppele's insights were and continue to be astute. But one point on which she does not seem to be realistic is her insistence that the problem of undoing the profound damage being done in Hungary by the current governing party's electoral supermajority and its increasingly autocratic leader's use of that supermajority power can and hence must be solved by Hungarians alone.
On the contrary, Hungary’s long history of red/white polarization and scape-goating has clearly culminated, in the latest pendulum swing, in the entrenchment of the white side’s ideology — a primitive, parochial, petty, punitive and increasingly paranoid world-view — in a quackish new constitution drafted, adopted and since amended at will nearly 2000 times by the governing party's supermajority.
Undoing this systematic, cumulative and self-perpetuating damage would require far more substantial and unified internal opposition now than Hungary seems capable of mustering (including the election of a supermajority in the opposite direction, under increasingly self-serving election restrictions voted into law at will by the ruling supermajority).
If global scrutiny and support on behalf of democracy and justice are not ratcheted up dramatically, Hungary will become ever more inextricably engulfed by the opportunistic tar-baby that a plurality made the fateful mistake of embracing in 2010.
(International sanctions would certainly be infinitely preferable to an unopposed descent into dictatorship -- or to civil war.)
Saturday, December 22. 2012
In Gold Open Access: Counting the Costs, Ariadne 70 (2012), Theo Andrew [TA] points out some of the prominent problems with Gold OA costs and RCUK policy, but he misses some of the most important ones:
TA: "RCUK stated that Gold OA is the preferred mechanism of choice to realise open access for outputs that they have funded and have announced the award of block grants to eligible institutions to achieve this aim. Where a Gold OA option is unavailable, Green OA is also acceptable; however, RCUK have indicated that the decision will be ultimately left up to institutions as to which route to take."Theo states the policy correctly but fails to point out that as it stands, the policy is self-contradictory:
1. RCUK prefers Gold.So is or isn't the choice of Green unacceptable where Gold is available? Is or isn't the fundee free to choose Green?
RCUK has since grudgingly conceded, in supplementary statements, that the institution and author are indeed free to choose Green or Gold even when a journal offers both; but RCUK have still stubbornly refused to fix the official policy wording, which continues to state that Green can only be chosen if the journal does not offer Gold, rather than stating, simply and forthrightly:
"Fundees may choose Green or Gold."(Perhaps this incoherence and ambiguity is left in so as to bias confused authors and institutions toward RCUK's preferred choice ...)
TA: "There is a general expectation that over time APCs will settle to a reasonable rate and similarly journal subscriptions will lower to reflect the gradual change in business model from subscription fees to APCs. "General expectations, and speculations. (Whose? and on what evidence are they based?)
But meanwhile, if the RCUK expectations and speculations are wrong then RCUK authors are being "preferentially" pushed toward paying an unreasonable APC rate (and perhaps also toward renouncing their preferred journals).
(And publishers are being tempted towards offering hybrid Gold OA, at their choice of price, to cash in on the prospect of UK Gold double payment. And the ambiguity about the allowability of Green when hybrid Gold is offered tempts hybrid publishers to adopt and lengthen Green embargoes beyond RCUK's allowable limits, to further increase their chances of collecting a UK Gold APC, over and above their worldwide subscription revenues.)
Nor will subscription prices be lowered because of publishers' UK APC windfalls: Subscriptions are worldwide matters; the UK only produces 6% of worldwide research.
And if the goal of the RCUK policy is to provide Open Access to UK research -- rather than to test Finch/RCUK expectations and speculations at the expense of UK research funds -- then RCUK need only have mandated Green.
But in any case, UK researchers, if they can find their way through the RCUK policy's formal double-talk, can comply by choosing to provide Green OA without paying any APCs.
Moreover, the PCs (sic) (publishing costs) are already being paid, in full -- by (UK and worldwide) subscriptions.
TA: "Much of this transition period to full open access will have to be navigated through uncharted territory, where no one has a clear handle on the costs involved. "Yes, the transition to Gold OA is indeed uncharted; moreover, the destination is a global one. It is not at all evident that the UK is in a position to steer the world on this uncharted course by unilaterally conducting its expensive and heavy-handed experiment -- or it is merely needlessly wasting a lot of scarce UK research money to double-pay publishers.
The most likely outcome of the UK experiment, however, will be that the vast majority of UK researchers choose Green rather than Gold.
Moreover, if RCUK does not implement a mechanism for monitoring and ensuring compliance with the Green OA option, the RCUK mandate will not even generate Green OA.
(All RCUK compliance considerations are so far focused exclusively on how to spend the Gold funds, and what to do when they run out; not a word has been said yet on how to ensure that Green is actually provided, when chosen.)
TA: "[E]ven with guaranteed funding from HEFCE, and other funders of research, large research-intensive universities will not be able to pay for all of their research to be published under Gold OA. "And here is an instance of this blinkered focus on how to spend HEFCE Gold: If researchers and their institutions manage to read through the RCUK double-talk, they will see that what they can do if the HEFCE Gold subsidy runs -- or even while the HEFCE funds are still available to double-pay publishers -- is to choose to provide Green OA, at no extra cost in APCs.
(Please recall that the UK and the rest of the world are still paying for publication costs, in full, via subscriptions; and that those subscriptions cannot be cancelled, anywhere, until and unless all of that journal content, from everywhere, is accessible by another means: That other means is Green OA.)
TA: "[There is] a positive correlation between APCs and impact factor"And a moment's reflection will show that the causality underlying that correlation cannot possibly be that paying more money for APCs raises articles' citation counts! Obviously the journals with the higher impact factors are charging higher APCs.
TA: "[P]ublication in hybrid journals (n=185) was significantly more popular than publishing in full OA journals (n=75). This may be due to the fact that there are more hybrid journals to publish in…. the average APC cost for hybrid journals was £1,989.79 compared to £1,128.02 for full OA journals – a difference of £861.77."Of course there are more established journals that have offered hybrid Gold OA as an option (potential double-earners for them, super-easy to offer, at no cost or risk) than there are new start-up Gold OA journals. And of course it is the established journals that have the track-record for quality, rather than new start-ups.
And obviously a track-record for quality is more "popular" with authors than a pig-in-a-poke.
What's not obvious is why any author would prefer to pay their journal-of-choice for hybrid Gold OA, when they can provide Green OA at no cost.
But that is precisely the practice that the RCUK OA policy was meant to have remedied, by mandating Green OA (with an effective system to ensure compliance) rather than throwing money needlessly and pre-emptively at Gold while PCs (sic) are still being paid, in full -- by (UK and worldwide) subscriptions.
TA: "Research-intensive institutions are likely to be hit twice; since they publish more articles and more frequently in higher-impact journals, their share of Gold OA bills is likely to be disproportionally larger."This is Theo's biggest oversight: Productive institutions are being hit thrice, not twice!
Not only do more productive institutions (1) publish more articles, (2) in higher-quality (hence higher-APC) journals, but, by far the most important of all, they are (3) still paying in full for PCs, via subscriptions, over and above any APCs they are paying for Gold (whether hybrid or "pure"). Indeed all institutions that produce any research at all are double-paying for whatever OA they buy via Gold APCs, high or low.
In a nut-shell: Paying pre-emptively for Gold OA APCs today is unnecessary, premature, over-priced, and a waste of scarce research funds while subscriptions are still paying (in full) for publication costs (PCs).
It is only if and when mandatory Green OA becomes universal worldwide, and makes it possible for institutions to cancel subscriptions by offering an alternative way of accessing all published research, that journals will need to convert to Gold OA -- and institutions can then use their annual windfall subscriptions savings to pay their APCs.
And those post-Green APCs will be far lower than today's Gold APCs; hence they will be affordable and sustainable (rather than bloated arbitrary double-payments, as now). Why? Because the cancelation pressure from global Green OA will force publishers to cut obsolete goods and services and their costs (like the print edition and the publisher PDF) and to offload all access-provision and archiving functions onto the global network of Green OA institutional repositories, leaving nothing to charge APCs for but the management of the peer review (which the peers do, as always, pro bono).
Moreover, the APCs for the post-Green Gold OA peer-review management will be "no-fault", which means that they will be charged uniformly for each actual round of refereeing, for all submitted articles -- regardless of whether the outcome is acceptance, revision/resubmission or acceptance -- rather than bundling the APCs for refereeing the rejected articles into the APC of each accepted article.
Journals will not earn more by trying to charge a higher APC for refereeing: they will earn more by establishing higher quality standards for evaluation (and those may indeed be worth a higher refereeing price). But in any case, refereeing prices will be so low, compared to the windfall subscription cancelation savings, that affordability will no longer be the life/death matter that it is for journal subscription PCs today.
This is all hypothetical, of course (just like RCUK's "general expectations and speculations"). But the fundamental and all-important fact that Green OA is already paid for, in full, by subscriptions today -- and hence can provide OA cost-free -- is not at all hypothetical.
TA: "The causes of significantly higher APC costs for high impact factor and hybrid journals are hard to identify and the suggestions made here are purely speculative..."The principal reason higher quality journals (which are often, but not always, higher-impact-factor journals) can and do charge higher APCs is obviously that they are the journals that are more in demand, and hence can name their price.
As to the other potential factors:
TA: "[Possible causes of higher APC coats:] Higher rejection rates"Yes, higher-quality journals reject more articles. Hence, in a pre-Green Gold APC system, they bundle the costs of rejected articles into the costs of accepted ones.
Post-Green, this arbitrary bundling will no longer be necessary; and meanwhile, pre-Green, it is not necessary to pay Gold APCs for OA: Green OA will provide OA at no extra cost in APCs over and above PCs.
TA: "[Possible causes of higher APC coats:] Reprints: various publishers have commented that they maximise their income streams by selling commercial reprints. A fully open licence (for example Creative Commons Attribution CC-BY) would remove this as users are free to distribute and reuse without further payment. "These days most authors respond to reprint requests with eprints, not hard-copy.
But just as pre-emptive Gold is neither urgent nor necessary, CC-BY is neither urgent nor necessary in most fields. Some fields may indeed need CC-BY more than others, but all fields need free online access: it's much easier and cheaper to provide (and mandate), and yet we do not have even that yet.
Moreover, for online articles, most uses already come with the territory, with Green (Gratis) OA.
TA: "[Possible causes of higher APC coats:] Value: Related to the issue of brand, there is a commonly held view that having high costs for publishing articles in high impact journals is justified as this is a valued service for which researchers are willing to pay a premium."The value of a journal comes from its track-record for quality, which in turn comes from its peer review standards. Higher quality journals are in higher demand, by both authors and users, so when they double-charge for hybrid Gold, pre-Green, they can ask for higher APCs.
Gold OA APCs post-Green for peer review alone will be so much lower that any price differences will be negligible.
(I also suspect that after the post-Green conversion to universal Gold APCs for peer review alone, it may well turn out to be the lower-quality journals that charge more, for faster, lower-standard refereeing, rather than the higher-quality journals.)
TA: "[Possible causes of higher APC coats:] Commercial publishers may seek to set the APCs at a price point which they think the market can bear. "But pubishers would have more trouble doing this if it were not for RCUK's double-talk about author choice: It would certainly help keep pre-Green Gold prices down if RCUK fundees had a clear idea that whenever they did not wish to pay (or could not), they could always provide Green for free instead of paying for Gold.
TA: "In theory, researchers can choose exactly where to publish and are free to publish elsewhere if they don't like the prices. "Better still, they can provide Green and not pay any price at all (if they can see their way through the RCUK red tape obscuring this fact.)
TA: "[W]ith an inelastic market - researchers are unlikely to shop around - and where the costs are sheltered - central funds mean that researchers are not exposed directly to costs - the APCs would remain high because normal market forces would not drive costs down."If RCUK authors have sense, they will not waste scarce research money on double-paying publishers for Gold OA APCs at all while subscription PCs are still being paid: They will simply provide Green.
TA: "Hybrid journals seem to be more popular venues for Open Access publication"This was already explained earlier: Established journals are likely to be hybrid Gold rather than pure-Gold start-ups, and they are also likely to be (rightly) in greater demand. -- But there's also no need to double-pay them for hybrid Gold. RCUK fundees can simply choose Green.
TA: "Hybrid journals generally charge more than full OA journals independent of journal impact factor"That's probably because unlike pure-Gold OA journals, hybrids still have to provide a print edition (with its associated costs); so if they publish N articles per year, they probably charge somewhere around 1/Nth of their total annual subscription PC revenue (or at least 1/Nth of their total annual publication costs) for each hybrid Gold double-payment.
TA: "There is a positive correlation between APC cost and impact factor for both hybrid and full OA journals."Supply and demand: High quality/impact journals are in greater demand, allowing them to get away with a higher hybrid APC price.
TA: "Open Access policies require rigorous compliance monitoring to be successful, and seem to be more effective when punitive sanctions are imposed.""Punitive" is overstating it. Mandate effectiveness needs both carrots and sticks, but RCUK has so far only specified how it will monitor Gold compliance. For Green, RCUK would do well to look to the Belgian model.
TA: "Research-intensive institutions are likely to be hit by a cost ‘double whammy’; they not only publish more articles, but they also publish them more frequently in high-impact-factor journals."Triple whammy: Besides any Gold APCs, they also have to keep paying subscription PCs.
Gargouri, Y, V Lariviere, Y Gingras, T Brody, L Carr & S Harnad (2012) Testing the Finch Hypothesis on Green OA Mandate Ineffectiveness arXiv:1210.8174
Monday, December 17. 2012
General cost analysis for scholarly communication in Germany: results of the 'Houghton Report' for Germany by John W. Houghton, Berndt Dugall, Steffen Bernius, Julia Krönung, Wolfgang KönigSome Comments:Management Summary: Conducted within the project “Economic Implications of New Models for Information Supply for Science and Research in Germany”, the Houghton Report for Germany provides a general cost and benefit analysis for scientific communication in Germany comparing different scenarios according to their specific costs and explicitly including the German National License Program (NLP).
Like previous Houghton Reports, this one has carefully compared unilateral and global cost/benefits for Gold Open Access Publishing and Green Open Access Self-Archiving. In this case, the options also included the German National License Program (NLP), a negotiated national site license providingGerman researchers with access to most of the journals they need.
As it found in other countries, the Report finds that Green OA self-archiving provides the best benefit/cost ratio in Germany too.
It needs to be noted, however, that among the scenarios compared, only subscription publishing (including licensed subscriptions) and Gold OA publishing are publishing models. Green OA self-archiving is not a substitute publishing model but a system of providing OA under the subscription/licensing model -- by supplementing it with author self-archiving (and with self-archiving mandates adopted by authors' institutions and funders).
"Open Access self-archiving… [is] further divided into (i) Green Open Access’ self-archiving operating in parallel with subscription publishing; and (ii) the ‘overlay services’ model in which self-archiving provides the foundation for overlay services (e.g. peer review, branding and quality control services))"Strictly speaking, the "overlay services model" is just another hypothetical Gold OA publishing model, but one in which the Gold OA fee is only paying for the service of peer-review, branding and quality control rather than for the all the rest of the products and services journals that are currently still being co-bundled in journal subscriptions and their costs (print edition, online edition, access-provision, hosting, archiving).
This hypothetical Gold OA model is predicated, however, on the assumption that there is universal Green OA self-archiving too, in order to perform the access-provision, hosting and archiving functions of what was formerly co-bundled under the subscription model.
Hence for existing journals the "overlay" Gold OA model is really just the second stage of a 2-stage transition that begins with the Green OA self-archiving access-provision system. In such a transition scenario, although Green OA would begin as a supplement to the subscription model, it would become an essential contributor to the sustainability of the overlay Gold OA model.
"comparing costs and benefits… [of] open access on returns to R&D over a 20 year period… we find that the benefits of open access publishing models are likely to substantially outweigh the costs and, while smaller, the benefits of the German NLP also exceed the costs."Again, it needs to be kept in mind that what are being compared are not just independent alternative publishing models, but also supplementary means of providing OA; so in some cases there are some very specific sequential contingencies and interdependencies among these models and scenarios.
"The NLP returns substantial benefits and savings at a modest cost, returning one of the highest benefit/cost ratios available from unilateral national policies during a transitional period (second to that of ‘Green Open Access’ self-archiving)."I presume that in considering the costs and benefits of German national licensing the Houghton Report considered both the unilateral German national licensing scenario and the scenario if reciprocated globally. In this regard, it should be noted that OA has both user-end benefits [maximized access] and author-end benefits [maximized impact]: Unilateral national licenses provide only the former, not the latter. Both unilateral Green and unilateral Gold, in contrast, provide only the latter but not the former. So what needs to be taken into account is global scalability and sustainability: How likely are other nations (and institutions) to wish -- and afford - to reciprocate under the various scenarios?
"Whether ‘Green Open Access’ self-archiving in parallel with subscriptions is a sustainable model over the longer term is debatable"First of all, if subscription publishing itself is not a sustainable model, then of course Green OA self-archiving is not a sustainable supplement either.
But in the hypothetical "overlay" Gold OA model it is being assumed that Green OA self-archiving is indeed sustainable -- as a practice, not as a substitute form of publishing. (It is naive to think of spawning 28,000 brand-new Gold OA peer-reviewed journals in place of the circa 28,000 journals that exist today: A conversion scenario is much more realistic.)
And probably the most relevant sustainability question is not about the sustainability of the practice of Green OA self-archiving (keystrokes and institutional repositories), nor the sustainability of subscription publishing, but the sustainability of subscription publishing in parallel with universal Green OA self-archiving. One natural possibility is that globally mandated Green OA self-archiving will make journal subscriptions unsustainable, inducing a transition in publishing models, with journals, under cancelation pressure, cutting inessential products and services and their costs, and downsizing to what is being here called the "overlay" Gold OA model (though that's probably not the aptest term to describe the outcome), while at the same time releasing the subscription cancelation funds to pay the much lower peer review service fees it entails.
"The results are comparable to those of previous studies from the UK and Netherlands. Green Open Access in parallel with the traditional model yields the best benefits/cost ratio."And what also need to be taken into account are sequential contingencies and priorities: Green OA self-archiving is not only the cheapest, fastest and surest way to provide OA, but it is also the natural way to induce a subsequent transition to affordable, sustainable Gold OA. But in order to be able to do that, it has to come first.
"Beside its benefits/cost ratio, the meaningfulness of the NLP is given by its enforceability.|Green OA self-archiving mandates are enforceable too. And global scaleability and sustainability has to be taken into account too, not just local access-provision.
"The true cost of toll access publishing (beside[s] the [cost of the] "buyback” of information) is the prohibition of access to research and knowledge for society."But when toll access publishing is globally supplemented by mandatory Green OA self-archiving, the "prohibition" is pre-empted, at next to no extra cost.
Tuesday, December 11. 2012
Thursday July 26 2012QED
All is far from lost, however. There is a simple way that funder mandates can immunize themselves against such perverse consequences. They need only include the following 8 essential conditions:
(1) immediate-deposit (no delayed deposit, even if access to the deposit is allowed to be embargoed -- and irrespective of whether the journal is green or gold)An example of such mutually reinforcing funder and institutional policies is the FRS-FNRS policy in Belgium.
Such an integrated, maximized-strength mandate model immunizes against publisher embargoes and should be adopted, complementarily and convergently, by all institutions and funders, in Europe and worldwide.
Here is the fundamental point that needs to be grasped: The only thing that is standing between the world and 100% OA is author keystrokes (for depositing the full text in an online repository). Once those keystrokes are done, even if some of those deposits are under an access embargo, nature and human nature will take its course, under pressure from the increasingly palpable benefits of OA, and embargoes will soon die their inevitable and well-deserved deaths of natural causes -- and journals will survive, and evolve, and adapt.
But it will take forever to happen if the keystrokes are not mandated. Journals will try to filibuster and embargo OA for as long as possible: it's a conflict of interest, between, on the one hand, research, researchers, their institutions, their funders, the R&D industry, and the tax-payers who fund the research, and, on the other hand, the research publishing industry.
Scholarly research is not funded and conducted as a service to the scholarly publishing industry (regardless of whether the publishers are commercial or "scholarly", and regardless of whether they are subscription publishers or Gold OA publishers).
It is time to stop allowing the publishing tail wag the research dog.
Mandating the Green OA keystrokes (even where embargoed) is the fastest, cheapest and surest way to get us to 100% Green OA -- and then all Gold OA, Libre OA will not be far behind.
But trying instead to mandate Gold OA preemptively as the Finch Committee have perversely proposed to do, under the influence of the publishing industry lobby, will only serve leave the UK, the former leader of the global OA movement, far behind.
Sunday, December 9. 2012
The updated Canada Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Open Access Mandate has taken one step forward and one step back:
One step forward:
Grant recipients are required toOne step back:
But there is a simple way to fix and optimize it.
The archiving must always be done by the author, not the publisher (and preferably in the author's institutional repository, never the publisher's website, so the institution can verify timely compliance); and the deposit must be done immediately upon publication in every instance. (The length of the allowable embargo -- though the shorter the better -- is less important than the necessity of immediate, verifiable institutional deposit by the author. PMC Canada and others can then harvest automatically from the author's institutional repositories.)
RECOMMENDED TWEAK TO OPTIMIZE CIHR OA MANDATE:
Integrating Institutional and Funder Open Access Mandates: Belgian Model
How to Integrate University and Funder Open Access Mandates
Optimize the NIH Mandate Now: Deposit Institutionally, Harvest Centrally
Optimizing OA Self-Archiving Mandates: What? Where? When? Why? How?
Which Green OA Mandate Is Optimal?
Thursday, December 6. 2012
Re: "Finch access plan unlikely to fly across the Atlantic"It's not just the US and the Social Sciences that will not join the UK's Gold Rush. Neither will Europe, nor Australia, nor the developing world.
The reason is simple: The Finch/RCUK/BIS policy was not thought through. It was hastily and carelessly cobbled together without proper representation from the most important stake-holders: researchers and their institutions, the providers of the research to which access is to be opened.
Instead, Finch/RCUK/BIS heeded the lobbying from the UK's sizeable research publishing industry, including both subscription publishers and Gold OA publishers, as well as from a private biomedical research funder that was rather too sure of its own OA strategy (even though that strategy has not so far been very successful). BIS was also rather simplistic about the "industrial applications" potential of its 6% of world research output, not realizing that unilateral OA from one country is of limited usefulness, and a globally scaleable OA policy requires some global thinking and consultation.
Now it will indeed amount to "a handout from the British government" -- a lot of money in exchange for very little OA -- unless (as I still fervently hope) RCUK has the wisdom and character to fix its OA mandate as it has by now been repeatedly urged from all sides to do, instead of just digging in to a doomed policy:
Adopt an effective mechanism to ensure compliance with the mandate to self-archive in UK institutional repositories (Green OA), in collaboration with UK institutions. And scale down the Gold OA to just the affordable minimum for which there is a genuine demand, instead of trying to force it down the throats of all UK researchers in place of cost-free self-archiving: The UK institutional repositories are already there: ready, waiting -- and empty.
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