Thursday, February 28. 2013
David Sweeney's new HEFCE/REF OA mandate proposal for consultation comes very close to providing the optimal OA mandate model:
(1) It separates the date on which deposit must be made (immediately upon acceptance for publication, with no differences across disciplines) from the date on which the deposit must be made OA (preferably immediately, but, at the latest, within an allowable embargo whose length will be adapted to the needs of each discipline).I have been a strident critic of the Willetts/Finch/RCUK policy's preference for gold over green and its constraints on authors' freedom of journal choice. This new HEFCE mandate proposal would remedy all that and would make the UK's OA mandate once again compatible with green OA mandates the world over -- indeed, with (3) and (4) it provides the all-important compliance-verification mechanism that most OA mandates still lack.
I hope that once they have seriously reflected upon and understood this new mandate proposal, researchers and their institutions will see that it moots all the objections that have been raised to the Finch/RCUK mandate. And I profoundly hope that David Willetts will realize and understand that too.
I also hope that those who are impatient for immediate, embargo-free OA, CC-BY licenses and Gold OA will allow this HEFCE compromise mandate to be adopted and succeed, rather than trying to force their less urgent, less universal, and much more divisive conditions into the policy yet again.
The price of Green OA (per paper deposited) is negligibly small, compared to Gold OA. And institutional repositories are already created and paid up (for a variety of purposes) but they remain near-empty of their target OA content -- unless deposit is mandated.
Green deposit mandates have to have carrots and sticks to be effective. Funder mandates provide the carrot/stick for institutions (funding eligibility -- and enhanced impact -- if you deposit; ineligibility if you don't)
Double-paying publishers pre-emptively for gold now is fine -- if you have effectively mandated a green deposit mandate for all articles first (and you have the extra cash to double-pay publishers for subscriptions and gold).
But if you have not effectively mandated a green deposit mandate for all articles first, instead double-paying publishers pre-emptively for gold is not only a gratuitous waste of scarce research money, but a counterproductive retardant on OA growth, both in the UK and worldwide (in encouraging subscription publishers to offer hybrid gold and to increase their embargo lengths on green in order to ensure that UK authors must pick and pay for gold).
(Where gold [or a fee waiver] is offered for free to authors (& their institutions) by a journal they freely choose as suitable, authors are of course welcome to choose it -- as long as they also deposit their article in their Green OA institutional repository, just as everyone else is mandated to do.)
Global green OA grows anarchically, not journal by journal. If and when competition from green starts causing journal cancellations, journals will be forced to start cutting costs by downsizing, phasing out the obsolete print and online edition and offloading all access-provision and archiving onto the global network of green OA institutional repositories. The institutional cancellation savings will then (single-) pay for post-Green Fair Gold at an affordable, sustainable price (for peer review alone).
To instead double-pay publishers pre-emptively for gold now (in the name of "cushioning" the transition) while publishers promise to "plough back" all Gold OA double-payment into subscription savings (all publishers? all subscribers?) is simply to give publishers a license to keep charging as much as they like and never bother to do the cost-cutting and downsizing that universal mandatory green would force them to do.
If the UK double-pays for Gold pre-emptively rather than first effectively mandating Green for all UK research output, it has chosen the losing option in an unforced Prisoner's Dilemma: the UK loses and the rest of the world gains. Less an admirable moral stance or idealism or a "front-mover" advantage than an unreflective and somewhat stubborn rush for Fool's Gold.
Tuesday, February 26. 2013
The price of Gold OA today is absurdly, arbitrarily high.
Most journals (and almost all the top journals) today are subscription journals. That means that whether you pay for hybrid Gold to a subscription journal or for "pure Gold" to a pure-Gold journal, double-payment is going on: subscriptions plus Gold. Institutions have to keep subscribing to the subscription journals their users need over and above whatever is spent for Gold.
In contrast, Green OA self-archiving costs nothing. The publication is already paid for by subscriptions.
So it is foolish and counterproductive to pay for Gold pre-emptively, without first having (effectively) mandated and provided Green.
(That done, people are free to spend their spare cash as they see fit!)
So what RCUK should have done (and I hope still will) is to require that all articles, wherever published, be immediately deposited in their authors' institutional repository -- no exceptions. (If it were up to me, I'd allow no OA embargo; but I can live with embargoes for now -- as long as deposit itself is immediate and the email-eprint-request Button is there, working, during any embargo: Universal immediate-deposit mandates will soon usher in the natural and well-deserved demise of OA embargoes.)
(That done, whether or not authors choose to publish or pay for Gold is left entirely to their free choice.)
Paying instead for Gold, pre-emptively, for the sake of CC-BY re-use rights , today, is worth neither the product paid for (Gold CC-BY) nor, far more importantly, all the Green OA thereby foregone (for the UK as well as for the rest of the world) whilst the UK's ill-fated Gold preference policy marches through the next few years to its inevitable failure.
So it's not about the price of the Gold. It's about the price of failing to grasp the Green that's within immediate reach today -- the Green that will not only pave the way to Gold (and as much CC-BY as users need and authors want to provide), but the same Green whose competitive pressure will -- (here comes my unheeded mantra again) -- drive the price of Gold down to a fair, affordable, sustainable one, by making subscriptions unsustainable, forcing publishers to cut costs by downsizing, jettisoning the print and online editions, offloading all access-provision and archiving onto the Green OA institutional repositories, and converting to Fair-Gold in exchange for the peer review service alone, paid for out of a fraction of the institutional subscription cancelation savings windfall.
The difference between paying for Gold then, post-Green OA -- and hence post-subscriptions and double-payment -- and double-paying for it now, pre-emptively, is the difference between Fair Gold and Fool's-Gold.
HEFCE's post REF-2014 Open Access proposal looks very promising, if I have understood it correctly.
The proposal is to mandate that in order to be eligible,The proposed HEFCE REF OA policy looks much better than the current RCUK OA policy. Let us hope that the RCUK policy will now be brought into line with the proposed HEFCE REF policy.
It is also very reassuring to hear that the policy will be based on collaboration and consultation.
This may help the UK regain its former worldwide leadership position in OA. The new US policy developments (following, a decade later, in the UK's pioneering footsteps) are extremely welcome and timely, but they still have many rough edges. Let's hope it will be the UK that again shows how to smooth them out and propel us all unstoppably to global OA.
Harnad, S., Carr, L., Brody, T. & Oppenheim, C. (2003) Mandated online RAE CVs Linked to University Eprint Archives: Improving the UK Research Assessment Exercise whilst making it cheaper and easier.Ariadne 35.
1. The only substantive issue is how to get peer-reviewed journal articles to be made Open Access (OA), today.
2. Twenty years of evidence shows that -- except in the very few subfields that self-archive spontaneously, unmandated -- the only way to get those articles to be made OA is to mandate (require) that they be made OA.
3. Institutions are the source of all peer-reviewed journal articles, in all fields, funded and unfunded.
4. Authors who do not self-archive spontaneously, unmandated, can only be mandated to do it once (not multiple times, in multiple places).
5. The only ones that can systematically monitor and ensure that all of their research output, in all fields, funded and unfunded, is self-archived, in compliance with self-archiving mandates are authors' own institutions.
6. The only way institutions can systematically monitor and ensure that all of their research output is self-archived is if it is deposited, convergently, in their own institutional repository -- not if it is deposited, divergently, here and there, institution-externally. (Institutional back-harvesting of its own institution-external content is so unrealistic as to be hardly worthy of discussion.)
7. The metadata of institutionally deposited articles can be -- and are being -- harvested institution-externally by many harvesters (foremost among them being google and google scholar).
8. The full-texts of institutional deposits are being harvested too (by google and google scholar for sure) -- although for most purposes users only need a link to the full-text in the institutional repository.
9. The power and functionality of OA harvesters can and will be enhanced dramatically -- but not until much, much more of their target content is OA than is OA today.
10. Till then it's simply not worth most people's time to enhance functionality over such sparse content.
11. Which brings us straight back to the need for effective OA self-archiving mandates, systematically (hence institutionally) monitored to ensure compliance.
12. Arxiv's functionality does not come from the fact that its authors deposit directly in Arxiv: it comes from the fact that they deposit, and deposit reliably (near 100%), unmandated.
13. Ditto for those who share protein or crystallographic data centrally, unmandated.
14. The real problem is all of that vast majority of OA's target content that is not being deposited -- either institutionally or institution-externally -- because deposit has not yet been mandated.
15. Immediate deposit of all peer-reviewed research output can be mandated by both institutions and funders.
16. Immediate Open Access to the deposit would be desirable, but access to deposits can be embargoed, if there is a wish to comply with publisher embargoes on OA .
17. This compromise can and should be made, if necessary, in the interest of hastening and facilitating the universal adoption of immediate-deposit mandates by all institutions and funders.
18. (Institutional repositories' email-eprint-request Button is there to tide over user needs during embargoes.)
19. The other compromise that can and should be made, because it is indeed necessary, is not to insist prematurely on further rights -- over and above free online access -- that publishers are not yet willing to allow, such as text-mining, re-mix and re-publication rights.
20. First things first: Don't fail to grasp what's already within reach by over-reaching for what's not yet within reach: Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good.
21. Mandate institutional deposit -- and let harvesters harvest where and when they please.
Maybe there will be an eventual realization that the failure of the new BIS/Finch/RCUK OA policy was not just due to publisher counter-lobbying but also to premature and disastrously counterproductive insistence on Gold and CC-BY by certain overzealous OA advocates.
Notice that the new US Presidential OA Directive we all now applaud makes no mention of Gold OA or CC-BY, just free online access (and of course the way it will be implemented will be largely via Green OA self-archiving). That's exactly what the UK Select Committee proposed in 2004.
Gold OA -- and as much CC-BY as users need and authors wish to provide -- will come, inexorably. But its coming is only slowed by grit-toothed insistence on having it first, at the expense of the free online access that all (not just some) research needs far, far more urgently than it needs Gold or CC-BY -- and that will pave the way for Gold and CC-BY.
First things first: Don't let the "best" become the enemy of the better.
Saturday, February 23. 2013
The new US OATP Presidential Directive requiring the largest US funding agencies to mandate OA within 12 months of publication is a wonderful step forward for the entire planet.
Here are some crucial implementational details that will maximize the mandates' effectiveness.
(1) Specify that the deposit of each article must be in an institutional repository (so the universities and research institutions can monitor and ensure compliance as well as adopt mandates of their own).If this is all done universally, universal OA will soon be upon us -- and a global transition to affordable, sustainable Fair-Gold OA (instead of today's premature, double-paid Fool's-Gold), plus as much CC-BY as users need and authors wish to provide -- will not be far behind.
Friday, February 22. 2013
RCUK allowing hybrid Gold payment only if the publisher allows the Green option within the RCUK 6-12-24+ embargo limits is no solution for the perverse effects of the new RCUK policy.
The only solution is for RCUK to allow hybrid Gold payment only if the publisher allows an immediate un-embargoed Green option -- and RCUK must leave the choice between Green or Gold options completely up to the author (no "preference," no "decision tree").
A subscription publisher that pits paid hybrid Gold against embargoed Green is practicing extortion, with or without the help of RCUK's perverse policy.
Embargoes are a complicated story that will soon have to be told forthrightly.
Publishers embargo green under the pretext that it's the only way to protect themselves from sure ruin.
That is utter nonsense, of course.
What embargoes really do is to delay (i.e. embargo) the natural, inevitable evolution from subscription publishing to Fair-Gold OA publishing at a fair, affordable, sustainable price by "protecting" double-payment at today's grotesquely inflated Fool's-Gold price.
Embargoes embargo both OA and Fair Gold, in order to lock in current subscription revenues and Fool's Gold.
Think about it….
But the compromise of an immediate-deposit/optional-access (ID/OA) mandate (in which deposit must be immediate but access to the deposit may be embargoed), once globally adopted, will ensure that publishers will be unable to keep embargoing the optimal and inevitable outcome for research, researchers and the tax-paying public much longer.
Whatever else it does, RCUK should immediately and unambiguously adopt (and ensure compliance with) an ID/OA mandate.
Thursday, February 21. 2013
Richard Poynder has written yet another excellent, timely, comprehensive overview of current developments in OA: "Open Access: A Tale of Two Tables"
1. RP: "Some would argue that the US has long been the natural leader of the OA movement, a leadership role it could be said to have acquired in 2005 [with] the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) [Green OA mandate]"I for one would not say the the US has been the leader of the worldwide OA movement (though it is certainly naturally placed to do so): The historic leader to date has been the UK. The world's first Green OA repository software was created in the UK (2000); the world's first Green OA mandate was adopted in the UK (2003); the UK parliamentary Select Committee was the first in the world to recommend that all institutions and funders mandate Green OA (2004); all of the UK's research funding councils (RCUK) have mandated OA (2006-2011) and the UK today has more funder (16) and institutional (25) Green OA mandates than any other country in the world (see ROARMAP).
(The US is second with 4 funder mandates and 19 institutional mandates. Little Finland leads in institutional mandates with 28; it has no funder mandates, but with all Finnish universities mandated, it hardly needs them!)
It is only now, with its flawed BIS/Finch/RCUK Gold-Preferential policy that the UK has lost its worldwide lead: In fact, as shown by the SPARC Europe Table, all other countries are now following the path that the UK pioneered in 2003-2004: the only country not following the UK's historic lead now is the UK itself!
But the good news is that the UK's lead can easily be regained, if the UK simply drops its gratuitous preference for Gold and throws its full weight behind implementing an effectively verified Green OA mandate, leaving the option of publishing and paying for Gold as purely a matter of author choice.
2. RP: "Green does usually mean a delay before OA is provided… usually... an embargo period of anything between 6 months and three or more years — a delay intended to allow the publisher to recoup the costs it incurred in publishing the paper."This too is one of the unanticipated negative consequences of the new RCUK OA policy. It is not true that Green OA means delayed/embargoed OA. At the moment, over 60% of subscription journals, including almost all the top journals in most fields, endorse immediate, un-embargoed Green OA self-archiving by their authors. (See the SHERPA/Romeo registry.)
Fewer than 40% of journals try to impose a Green OA embargo, and even for those, there is a compromise solution that is "Almost-OA":
All papers (100%) need to be deposited in the author's institutional repository immediately upon acceptance for publication, but access to the deposit can be set as "Closed Access" instead of Open Access during the embargo period. During the embargo, the repositories have an email-eprint-request Button that allows individual users to request, and authors to provide, with one click each, a single eprint for research use.
This means that an effective Green OA immediate-deposit mandate can immediately provide at least 60% immediate-OA plus 40% Almost-OA.
But RCUK's flawed policy, by providing an irresistible incentive for subscription publishers to offer UK authors hybrid Gold OA for an extra fee encourages publishers, by the same stroke, to adopt and to lengthen Green OA embargoes beyond RCUK's allowable limit in order to make sure that UK authors must pick the paid Gold option (the UK's "preferred" one) rather than the cost-free Green one.
This too is easily fixed if the UK simply drops its gratuitous preference for Gold and throws its full weight behind implementing an effectively verified Green OA mandate, leaving the option of publishing and paying for Gold as purely a matter of author choice.
Let me also stress that the costs of publication that subscription publishers incur are being paid in full, and fulsomely, by their worldwide journal subscriptions. Hence there is no justification for publisher embargoes on Green OA a as "a delay intended to allow the publisher to recoup the costs it incurred in publishing the paper." Embargoes are in place purely in order to insure publishers' current revenue streams by forcing researchers to pay or double-pay an inflated price for Fool's-Gold OA instead of allowing Green OA to leverage a downsizing and transition from subscriptions to Fair-Gold OA at an affordable, sustainable post-Green-OA price.
3. RP: "the SPARC table could be taken to imply that the Wellcome Trust only supports Green OA"The Wellcome policy allows either Green or Gold.
But, without announcing it explicitly, and without placing any pressure on authors, Wellcome too prefers Gold (and most of the OA that is generated by its policy is Gold OA). This is no coincidence, for the new UK policy was strongly influenced by, and to a great extent modelled upon, the Wellcome policy.
Wellcome gets the historic credit for having been the first funder in the world to mandate OA. (They did it before NIH.) But the Wellcome policy is deeply flawed and was for several years ineffective because compliance was in no way monitored and there were no consequences for noncompliance.
Now, both NIH and Wellcome monitor compliance: funding may not be provided or renewed if fundees fail to comply. But NIH still only mandates Green, whereas Wellcome, a private charity, has adopted the (simplistic) maxim that "Publication costs are part of research costs (1.5%) and a research funder should be prepared to pay them."
That is Wellcome's rationale for (implicitly) preferring Gold: "We fund the research: we're ready to pay its publication costs too."
The trouble is that most research publication is still subscription based. And institutions still have to pay those subscription costs, so their users can access the research. Wellcome is not offering to pay for that: just for the Gold OA costs of publishing the research Wellcome funds. Subscription journals are happy to take the extra Wellcome money, and duly offer a hybrid Gold choice for any author who wants to pay for it -- but they also continue to collect subscriptions, and institutions continue to have to pay for them. So Wellcome is merely subsidizing a 1.5% double-payment to publishers in exchange for Gold OA.
This absurd subsidy to publishers is fine when offered by a private funder that has nothing to spend its money on other than research (98.5%) and its publication (1.5%).
But this simplistic formula doesn't work for the UK (or any) government, or any public research funder. For unlike private charities, governments are using tax-payer money not only to pay for research (100%), but also to pay for journal subscriptions (100%). Hence if they foolishly elect to pay publishers even more -- 100% for subscriptions plus 1.5% more for Gold OA -- they are throwing taxpayer money away to double-pay publishing costs that they are already paying via subscriptions.
Hence, paradoxically, the very first funder to mandate OA, the Wellcome Trust, is definitely not the model to follow. Yet the UK has now done just that, adding to the Wellcome Trust's generosity to publishers an explicit preferential pressure on UK authors, with perverse consequences for the UK as well as the rest of the world.
(For a clear grasp of the contingencies, complementarity, and time-course of Green and Gold OA, the reader could do no better than to consult Houghton & Swan's "Planting the Green Seeds for a Golden Harvest". )
Friday, February 15. 2013
It is definitely a canard that all, most or even the majority of OA is Gold OA.
It is also definitely untrue that all, most or even the majority of Gold OA is APC-based (Article Processing Charge).
But I think it is also true that the majority of non-APC-based Gold OA journals are not among the top journals in most fields -- the ones most institutions need to subscribe to, and the ones that also tend to be the journals indexed by ISI (and that doesn't just mean preoccupation with journal impact factors: those are also the journals that have established a track-record for high quality peer review standards).
I may be wrong, but I think it is misleading to equate the canard about OA being Gold OA with the misimpression that most Gold OA is APC-based: It's not, but there's more to it than that.
And I also think that although it's true that today's limited and patchy Green OA has not caused journal cancelations, once OA becomes universally mandatory, Green OA will go on to make subscriptions unsustainable, and journals will have to cut costs, downsize, and find another source of revenue to cover the remaining costs. And that other source of revenue will be Gold OA APCs, per paper submitted for peer review, at a fair, affordable, sustainable price, paid out of a portion of each institution's annual windfall savings from the subscription-cancellations induced by universal Green OA.
That will be affordable, sustainable Fair-Gold OA (as compared to today's Fool's Gold OA, double-paid alongside subscriptions at an absurdly inflated price). But I do not believe that either parallel subscription income, alongside universal Green -- or subsidies, or (as some imagine) pure voluntarism and thin air -- will be sustainable ways of paying for the much-reduced but still non-zero cost, per paper submitted, of post-Green peer-reviewed journal publishing.
"If OA were adopted worldwide, the net benefits of Gold OA would exceed those of Green OA. However, we are not in an OA world... At the institutional level, during a transitional period when subscriptions are maintained, the cost of unilaterally adopting Green OA is much lower than the cost of Gold OA – with Green OA self-archiving costing average institutions sampled around one-fifth the amount that Gold OA might cost, and as little as one-tenth as much for the most research intensive university. Hence, we conclude that the most affordable and cost-effective means of moving towards OA is through Green OA, which can be adopted unilaterally at the funder, institutional, sectoral and national levels at relatively little cost." [emphasis added]Unilateral Gold is the losing choice in a Prisoner’s Dilemma. If an institution, funder or country unilaterally mandates Gold OA Publishing (with author publication charges) today, instead of first (effectively) mandating Green OA self-archiving (at no added cost) then that institution/funder/country has made the losing choice in a non-forced-choice Prisoner's Dilemma (see below):Houghton, John W. & Swan, Alma (2013) Planting the green seeds for a golden harvest: Comments and clarifications on “Going for Gold” D-Lib Magazine 19(1/2)
Wednesday, February 13. 2013
Stevan Harnad (February 11th, 2013 at 9.03 pm) Says:
MARTIN HALL: “The “Green” versus “Gold” debate... is misleading. The imperative is to get to a point where all the costs of publishing, whether negligible or requiring developed mechanisms for meeting Article Processing Charges (APCs), are fully met up front so that copies-of-record can be made freely available under arrangements such as the Creative Commons CC-BY-NC licence. This was our key argument in the Finch Group report, and the case has been remade in a recent – excellent – posting by Stuart Shieber, Harvard’s Director of the Office of Scholarly Communication.”
Martin Hall (February 12th, 2013 at 11.59 am) Says:
Stevan – here are two quotations from Stuart Shieber’s paper which make the point about the significance of moving to full Open Access to copy-of-record. The Finch Report, however imperfect, was about the transition to this.“Open-access journals don’t charge for access, but that doesn’t mean they eschew revenue entirely. Open-access journals are just selling a different good, and therefore participating in a different market. Instead of selling access to readers (or the readers’ proxy, the libraries), they sell publisher services to the authors (or to the authors’ proxy, their research funders). In fact there are now over 8,500 open-access journals listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals. Some of them have been mentioned already on this panel: Linguistic Discovery, Semantics and Pragmatics. The majority of existing open-access journals, like those journals, don’t charge authorside article-processing charges (APCs). But in the end APCs seems to me the most reasonable, reliable, scalable, and efficient revenue mechanism for open-access journals. This move from reader-side subscription fees to author-side APCs has dramatic ramifications for the structure of the market that the publisher participates in”.And later:“So journals compete for authors in a way they don’t for readers, and this competition leads to much greater efficiency. Open-access publishers are highly motivated to provide better services at lower price to compete for authors’ article submissions. We actually see evidence of this competition on both price and quality happening in the market.”
Stevan Harnad (February 13th, 2013 at 2.41 am -- Your comment is awaiting moderation. ) Says:
Unilateral UK Gold is the losing choice in a Prisoner’s Dilemma. If the UK unilaterally mandates Gold OA Publishing (with author publication charges) today, instead of first (effectively) mandating Green OA self-archiving (at no added cost) then the UK has made the losing choice in a non-forced-choice Prisoner's Dilemma (see below):"If OA were adopted worldwide, the net benefits of Gold OA would exceed those of Green OA. However, we are not in an OA world... At the institutional level, during a transitional period when subscriptions are maintained, the cost of unilaterally adopting Green OA is much lower than the cost of Gold OA – with Green OA self-archiving costing average institutions sampled around one-fifth the amount that Gold OA might cost, and as little as one-tenth as much for the most research intensive university. Hence, we conclude that the most affordable and cost-effective means of moving towards OA is through Green OA, which can be adopted unilaterally at the funder, institutional, sectoral and national levels at relatively little cost." [emphasis added]
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