Thursday, August 29. 2013
The Open Access (OA) citation advantage has been repeatedly demonstrated for Green OA, that is, articles published in any journal at all, but made open access by their authors by self-archiving them free for all online.
But the significant citation advantage for OA articles over non-OA articles -- which has been found in every field tested -- is based on comparing like with like: journal articles appearing in the same journal and year, and even sometimes matched for topic via title words.
Testing for a citation advantage of OA journals (Gold OA) over non-OA journals ("EC study finds low citation gains for gold open access") requires comparisons between journals, instead of between articles within the same journal. As a consequence, even if efforts are made to compare journals within the same field, there is no way to ensure that the journals cover the same subject matter, nor, perhaps even more important, to ensure that they are of the same quality. For journals do differ not only in subject matter but in the quality of their content.
As Eric Archambault notes, Gold OA journals are handicapped by the fact that they tend to be younger, and hence have not had a chance to establish a track record for either subject matter or quality.
But even for journals of the same age, and even if they are closely matched for subject matter, it is impossible to match them for quality. And to make it even worse, journal average citation counts ("journal impact factors") are sometimes taken as a proxy for quality! Hence equating journals for quality that way would guarantee that there could be no citation advantage between matched OA and non-OA journals!
The good news is that there is no reason to believe that the OA citation advantage that has been repeatedly demonstrated by within-journal comparisons using Green OA should not also generalize to OA provided by Gold OA -- for articles of comparable quality.
One last point: Our studies have found that the size of the OA advantage is itself correlated with quality (or at least with quality as measured by citation counts): The size of the Green OA advantage is greater in journals with higher average citation counts. We tentatively conclude that the citation advantage is greater for "more citable" articles. A lower quality article will not gain as much as a higher quality article from being made more accessible. OA may even lower the citation counts of low quality articles by levelling the playing field, making all articles accessible, and hence making it possible for authors to access, use and cite the best and most relevant articles, rather than being limited to the articles that their institutions can afford to access via institutional journal subscriptions or licenses.
Gargouri, Y., Hajjem, C., Lariviere, V., Gingras, Y., Brody, T., Carr, L. and Harnad, S. (2010) Self-Selected or Mandated, Open Access Increases Citation Impact for Higher Quality Research. PLOS ONE 5 (10) e13636
Thursday, August 22. 2013
It is heartening to know that 50% of articles published in 2011 were freely accessible online by the end of 2012. But when did they become accessible? It could have been at any time from the date of acceptance for publication to December 2012!
The purpose of Open Access (OA) is to maximize the uptake, usage, applications and impact of research findings by making them accessible to all users online, rather than just to those users who have subscription access (SA).
There are two ways for authors to make access to their published findings free for all: Publish them in a journal that makes the articles free for all online ("Gold OA"). Or publish them in any journal at all, but also self-archive the final, peer-reviewed draft free for all online ("Green OA").
But both the Green and the Gold paths to access can be taken immediately, or only after a delay of months or years.
If subscription access (SA) is not OA but restricted access, because it is restricted to subscribers only, then surely both delayed Green Access and delayed Gold Access are not OA either, because access is restricted during any delay period.
Some journals, for example, impose a 12-month embargo on Green self-archiving. And of those subscription journals where the journal itself makes its articles freely accessible at no extra charge to the author, some journals only do so 12 months after publication or longer.
In many fields, the growth tip for accessing and building upon new findings is within the first year or even earlier. (See the figure from Gentil-Beccot 2009). With delays, potential research progress is slowed and reduced, some of it perhaps even permanently lost.
Harnad, S (2013) OA 2013: Tilting at the Tipping Point. Open Access Archivengelism 1022
Saturday, August 17. 2013
There’s nothing wrong with OA growth in Australia ("Four issues restricting widespread green OA in Australia") that the adoption of the Queensland University of Technology's [QUT's] Green OA self-archiving mandate model by all Australian universities and research funding councils would not fix.
Issue 1 – Lack of data about what Australian research is available OA. The problem is not with knowing what’s OA in Australia. (Well configured repository software plus ROAR will tell you that -- and Google will find it.) A mandate compliance monitoring mechanism, however, is indeed needed. But the ones to monitor compliance are authors’ own institutions, by requiring deposit immediately upon acceptance for publication, time-stamped within days or weeks of the date of the acceptance letter, for all published articles. Immediate-deposit should be a condition for Australian national research funding and performance evaluation [ARC] as well as for institutional research performance assessment, as it is in Belgium by FRS-FNRS and the University of Liege, and as it has been proposed for UK funded research by HEFCE for REF 2020.
Issue 2 – Copyright transfer agreements. It’s always good to agree on fair copyright agreements, but trying to convince publishers to agree to those should on no account be holding up the mandating and provision of Green OA. And for journals that embargo OA, there’s always the immediate-deposit mandate and the repository’s eprint-request Button to provide immediate Almost-OA with one click from the requester and one click from the author.
Issue 3 – The academic reward system. The “academic reward system” is certainly not holding up OA. OA increases research uptake and impact, including citations. And the notion that OA needs some sort of preferential treatment for Gold OA journals, rather than just weighting them based on their track-record for quality, like all other journals, is and has always been complete nonsense, ever since it began to be mooted over a decade ago. The way to provide OA is to publish in the highest standard journal possible for one’s work, and then self-archive the refereed final draft. To pay to publish in a Gold OA journal just because it is OA (rather than because of its quality standards) is to pay for Fools Gold. (There is no OA problem for unrefereed or unpublished work; nor is getting academic credit for such work an OA problem.)
Issue 4 – Improved national discovery services. Discovery tools can always be improved, but they are already pretty powerful. They will not discover OA content that is not there. Hence the only thing that is really needed for OA is effective Green OA mandates, along with effective monitoring of compliance, in order to get it up there, out in the OApen, to be “discovered.”
Friday, August 16. 2013
Lee Jones makes some good points, but underestimates the power and purpose of some of the very HEFCE policy points that he questions.
It is the fact that HEFCE proposes to mandate the immediate, unembargoed deposit of the FAV (Final Author Version) in the author’s institutional repository — even if access to the deposit is not made immediately OA — that (1) restores authors’ freedom of journal choice, (2) protects authors from having to pay Gold OA fees, (3) takes publishers out of the loop for HEFCE OA Policy, and even (4) equips users to request and authors to provide “Almost-OA” to embargoed deposits, via the institutional repository’s eprint request Button, with one click each.
In the UK, (a) institutional repository start-up costs are mostly already bespoken, (b) repositories have multiple purposes, with OA only one of them, and they (c) allow archiving costs to be distributed and local, keeping them small, rather than big, like the costs of a national archive like France’s HAL or a global one like Arxiv. Central locus of storage is in any case an obsolete notion in the distributed digital network era.
Lee Jones still needs to do a bit more homework.
I. Both major repository softwares have the Button (and the rest can easily create it, following the model):
II. Local institutional self-archiving is (a) multi-purpose (not just OA), (b) cheaper than central self-archiving (just local output), (c) distributes the costs (who should pay for the central repository -- Arxiv has trouble making ends meet -- and why, when it's not their own research output?), (d) reinforces and converges with funder self-archiving mandates (all research originates from institutions -- not all is funded), (e) serves an institution's other interests (showcasing as well as monitoring their own research output) and (f) makes it only necessary to deposit once, and in the same place, for all researchers (the rest can be accomplished automatically by automatic central harvesting, by discipline, institution, funder, or nation). See:
III. You seem to have completely missed the point that immediate-deposit without OA is not Green OA self-archiving! Journals have no say whatsoever over institution-internal book-keeping if the deposit is Closed Access rather than Open Access. Indeed the Button is precisely for articles in journals that embargo Green OA, whether for a year or a lifetime.
IV. Your proposed advice to HEFCE to allow exceptions to the immediate-deposit requirement is unfortunately very counterproductive advice, based on a profound misunderstanding, conflating the immediate-deposit requirement with the immediate, unembargoed Green OA self-archiving that Green-friendly publishers endorse and that embargoing publishers embargo. (It is immediate, unembargoed Green OA self-archiving that CUP endorses, and even though I hope my former long-time publisher will never disgrace itself by withdrawing that endorsement, even if they do, all institutions and funders can still mandate immediate-deposit without immediate OA, and all authors can comply.
V. I'm not "cheer-leading" these proposals: I'm helping to design them. If you want to help too, the first thing you need to do is to wean yourself from anecdote and half-truths and get up to speed on the many, many things you don't know yet about OA and OA policy-making.
VI. HEFCE's proposed immediate-deposit requirement for eligibility for REF 2020 complements RCUK's mandate and will help reinforce RCUK's neglected Green component by providing the all-important Green compliance montoring and enforcement mechanism that the RCUK mandate sorely needs. And the ingenious thing about the HEFCE immediate-deposit requirement is that by its very nature it applies to just about all UK research output (hence just about all RCUK-funded output) because in 2004 a researcher does not yet know which will be his best 4 articles for HEFCE submission in 2020! So the only way to hedge his bets is to deposit all of them immediately... (Think about it!)
Monday, August 12. 2013
Yes, there's a flaw in the University of California Open Access (OA) mandate ["Open Contradictions," Editorial, The Daily Californian, 12 Aug 2013], and, yes, it has to do with the fact that U of C authors can opt out of compliance with the mandate.
But, no, the flaw is not that the U of C policy
"allows [authors] to pick and choose where their research goes, thereby creating a divide between those who can afford access to a private academic journal and those who cannot."That researchers retain their right to choose the most suitable journal for their research is not a flaw but a virtue of any OA mandate. (In the UK, some OA mandates are trying to force authors to choose (and pay) to publish in journals based on the journal's OA policy instead of its quality (peer-review) standards, and that's very bad for both research and researchers -- and certainly unnecessary for OA.)
Nor does the U of C's mandate flaw have anything to do with whether the journal is "private" or "academic." Journals differ in their subject matter and quality standards; there are non-profit and for-profit journals at all quality levels, and that in turn has next to nothing to do with the journal's OA policy -- except that there is a new breed of junk journals that has lately been created on the cheap to provide pay-to-publish OA with low or no peer review quality standards. (See Beall's list.)
There are two ways for authors to provide OA: (1) publish in an OA journal that makes the article OA, often for a fee (this is called "Gold OA") or (2) publish in any journal, but also deposit the final, peer-reviewed draft in the author's institutional repository -- U of C's is called eScholarship -- and set access to the deposit as OA (this is called "Green OA") rather than Closed Access.
U of C has (wisely) mandated Green OA, not (like the UK) Gold OA. Hence journal choice is not at issue for U of C authors: They retain their right to choose to publish in the journal most suitable for their work. What is at issue is whether and when they can make their article OA: Some journals' copyright agreements require authors to embargo OA for 6 months, 12 months, or even longer.
Now we come to the real flaw of the U of C policy: If authors can opt out of the U of C mandate whenever a publisher embargoes OA, this nullifies the mandate and simply allows publishers to continue to determine whether and when articles are made OA.
But there is a very simple and natural solution that moots the publisher OA embargo: U of C needs to add an immediate-deposit clause with no opt-out. This means all authors must deposit their peer-reviewed final drafts in eScholarship immediately upon acceptance for publication whether or not the journal embargoes OA. But in addition, eScholarship should implement the automated Request-Copy Button.
The repository's Button can email one copy of an embargoed deposit to an individual user on request: All it takes is one click from the user to request and one click from the author to fulfill the request. (This is not OA but "Almost-OA.")
Authors retain journal choice, as well as the choice to provide individual access even for embargoed deposits -- but they cannot opt out of immediate-deposit requirement itself: All articles, regardless of journal or journal policy, must be deposited in eScholarship immediately. The author can then either set access to the article as OA immediately, or can use the Button to provide "Almost-OA" during any publisher OA embargo.
Once the one-size-fits-all immediate-deposit mandate (with no opt-out) is adopted by universities and research funders worldwide, not only will it close the "divide between those who can afford access... and those who cannot), but it will help hasten publisher OA embargoes toward their natural, inevitable and well-deserved deaths under the mounting worldwide pressure and demand for immediate OA -- by mandating that all articles must be immediately deposited in repositories and taking publishers out of the loop completely, insofar as mandate compliance is concerned.
None of this can happen if universities continue to allow publishers to decide whether and when authors deposit and provide access, by allowing opt-out from OA mandates.
Saturday, August 10. 2013
Friday, August 9. 2013
Aside from the default copyright-reservation mandate with opt-out, always add an immediate-deposit clause without opt-out.
The deposit need not be immediately made OA, but it needs to be deposited in the institutional repository immediately upon acceptance for publication. While access to the deposit is embargoed, the repository can implement the eprint-request Button with which users can request and authors can provide the eprint with one keystroke each.
Deposit should always be done directly by the author (or the author's personal designee: student, research assistant or secretary). It is a big mistake to "submit" the paper instead to the provost's office. At other universities with this style of mandate the provost's office has sat on papers for years instead of depositing them; this is even worse than publication lag or publishers' OA embargoes.
If deposit is instead left to the provost's office, immediate-deposit will not become the natural milestone in the author's research cycle that it needs to become, in order to ensure that the deposit is done at all: The dated acceptance letter from the journal is sent to the author. That sets the date of immediate-deposit and also determines which version is the final, refereed accepted one. The publication date is uncertain and could be as much as a year or more after acceptance.
Mandate deposit immediately upon acceptance for publication, but otherwise, having mandated the N-1 of the author keystrokes required for deposit, in case of embargo, leave the Nth keystroke to the author, in responding to Button-mediated eprint requests.
Put all administrative efforts instead into monitoring mandate compliance -- by systematically collecting the dated acceptance letters instead of the papers themselves, and ensuring that the repository deposit-date is within a few days or weeks of the acceptance date.
Wednesday, August 7. 2013
If supplying eprints to requesters could be delegated to 3rd parties like Repository Managers to perform automatically, then they would become violations of copyright contracts.
What makes the eprint-request Button legal is the fact that it is the author who decides, in each individual instance, whether or not to comply with an individual eprint request for his own work; it does not happen automatically.
Think about it: If it were just the fact of requesters having to do two keystrokes for access instead of just one (OA), then the compliance keystroke might as well have been done by software rather than the Repository Manager! And that would certainly not be compliance with a publisher OA embargo. "Almost OA" would just become 2-stroke OA.
No. What makes the eprint-request Button both legal and subversive is that it is not 3rd-party piracy (by either a Repository Manager or an automatic computer programme) but 1st-party provision of individual copies, to individual requesters, for research purposes, by the author, in each individual instance: the latter alone continues the long accepted tradition of reprint-provision by scholars and scientists to their own work.
If reprint-request cards had been mailed instead to 3rd-parties who simply photocopied anyone's articles and mailed them to requesters (with or without a fee) the practice would have been attacked in the courts by publishers as piracy long ago.
The best way to undermine the Button as a remedy against publisher OA mandates, and to empower the publishing lobby to block it, would be to conflate it with 2-stroke 3rd-party OA!
That practice should never be recommended.
Rather, make crystal clear the fundamental difference between 1st-party give-away and 3rd-party rip-off.
[Parenthetically: Of course it is true that all these legal and technical distinctions are trivial nonsense! It is an ineluctable fact that the online PostGutenberg medium has made technically and economically possible and easily feasible what was technically and economically impossible in the Gutenberg medium: to make all refereed research articles -- each, without exception, an author give-away, written purely for research impact rather than royalty income -- immediately accessible to all would-be users, not just to subscribers: OA. That outcome is both optimal and inevitable for research; researchers; their institutions; their funders; the R&D industry; students; teachers; journalists; the developing world; access-denied scholars and scientists; the general public; research uptake, productivity, impact and progress; and the tax-payers who fund the research. The only parties with whose interests that optimal outcome is in conflict are the refereed-research publishers who had been providing an essential service to research in the Gutenberg era. It is that publishing "tail" that is now trying to wag the research "dog," to deter and delay what is optimal and inevitable for research for as long as possible, by invoking Gutenberg-era pseudo-legal pseudo-technicalities to try to embargo OA, by holding it hostage to their accustomed revenue streams and modus operandi. OA mandates, the immediate-deposit clause, and the eprint-request Button are the research community's means of mooting these delay tactics and hastening the natural evolution to the optimal and inevitable outcome in the PostGutenberg era.]
Sale, A., Couture, M., Rodrigues, E., Carr, L. and Harnad, S. (2012) Open Access Mandates and the "Fair Dealing" Button. In: Dynamic Fair Dealing: Creating Canadian Culture Online (Rosemary J. Coombe & Darren Wershler, Eds.)
Sunday, August 4. 2013
Richard Poynder is absolutely right on every point in his reply to my commentary. (Except possibly one [trivial] one: Richard seems to imply that IEEE has already embargoed the author's final refereed draft. It has not. Richard's is only a speculation that they might, given that some other publishers have done so. Richard is quite right that some other publishers have done so. And his speculation about IEEE may prove correct. But it should be noted that it is still just a prediction…!)
Now to what Richard says about "friction." ("[The request-eprint Button] introduces a different kind of friction into the system, including presumably a time delay...")
The request-eprint Button was created for both EPrints and DSpace repositories in 2006 with six very specific objectives:
1. to make it possible for all institutions and funders to mandate OA without being held back by constraints of copyright renegotiation or embargo lengthSo what the Button introduces is not a delay (the publisher embargoes introduce the delay) but a way to provide access during the delay -- with some "friction" (extra keystrokes for authors) -- but that friction may well help put an end to such gratuitous delays sooner rather than later: Read on...
Publishers embargo (Green) OA in order to prevent their subscription revenue streams from being reduced by the revolutionary technical potential opened up by the online medium for as long as they possibly can, at the cost of research access and impact. The Almost-OA Button and the immediate-deposit mandate were jointly designed long before the Finch Fiasco of 2012, to cover the journals that already had OA embargoes, and any journals that might adopt OA embargoes in the future. It is a prophylactic against OA embargoes.
The perverse (but predictable) effect of Finch/RCUK's reckless new OA policy (of preferring to pay for Gold OA instead of reinforcing the requirement to provide cost-free Green OA) has been to give publishers a much stronger incentive to adopt and lengthen Green OA embargoes beyond RCUK's allowable length limit, and to offer hybrid Gold OA (i.e., keep charging institutions for subscriptions, but allow authors to pay them extra to make their individual article Gold OA) instead, so as to ensure that mandated UK authors are obliged to pay them extra for Gold OA rather than just providing cost-free Green OA.
Immediate-deposit plus the Almost-OA Button will be an antidote to this perverse effect of the Finch/RCUK mandate -- which is why it is so important to adopt HEFCE's proposal to make immediate-deposit mandatory in order to make articles eligible for REF2020.
There is a profound conflict of interest between, on the one side, research, researchers, their institutions, their funders, the vast R&D industry, students, teachers, journalists, and the tax-paying public that funds the research, and, on the other, the publishing industry. Publishing is a service industry that had been performing an essential service to research during the Gutenberg era of print on paper, but is now blocking the natural evolution of research communication in the print-free online era by trying to embargo making refereed research freely accessible to all online.
Publishers will not stop trying to delay the optimal and inevitable for research for as long as possible by embargoing Green OA. OA mandates are the way for the research community to overcome the publishing industry's delay tactics -- and the immediate-deposit mandate plus the Button are their key components.
Harvard/MIT/UC-style copyright-reservation mandates are fine, and welcome, but, as noted, they require opt-out options or authors will not comply. The opt-out is invariably needed for cases where the author's journal of choice insists on embargoing OA beyond the allowable limit and authors (rightly) insist on their journal of choice.
But all that the Harvard/MIT/UC-style copyright-reservation mandates need in order to make them work, optimally, is to add an immediate-deposit requirement (whether or not the article is embargoed), without opt-out. Authors who opt out can then rely on their repository's eprint-request Button to provide Almost-OA during the embargo.
Sale, A., Couture, M., Rodrigues, E., Carr, L. and Harnad, S. (2012) Open Access Mandates and the "Fair Dealing" Button. In: Dynamic Fair Dealing: Creating Canadian Culture Online (Rosemary J. Coombe & Darren Wershler, Eds.)
Saturday, August 3. 2013
If we cut through all the IEEE spin about "sustainability" in the interview of IEEE's Anthony Durniak by Richard Poynder, IEEE is still on the side of the angels insofar as the future -- and the future growth of OA, Green OA, and Green OA mandates -- are concerned, because IEEE still endorses immediate, unembargoed Green OA self-archiving of the author's refereed, accepted final draft (not the publisher's Version of Record).
That endorsement from Green publishers like IEEE is the only thing -- repeat, the only thing -- the researchers, institutions and funders of the world need in order to mandate immediate, unembargoed Green OA.
The trouble is that a certain number of publishers, unlike IEEE, try to embargo Green OA, for two reasons -- one of them a perverse effect of the UK's Finch/RCUK Folly, which virtually invited publishers to adopt a Green OA embargo and crank up its length beyond the allowable Finch/RCUK maximum limit while at the same time offering a fee-based hybrid Gold option. That way publishers could try to (1) force UK authors to pick and pay for the latter option, allowing publishers to cash in on the UK's Fools-Gold-Fund subsidy and preference. And in that same fell swoop publishers could also try to (2) fend off the other OA mandates that are being adopted worldwide, the ones that just mandate Green OA without subsidizing or preferring Fools Gold.
Fortunately, there is a simple, cost-free remedy against all this tom-foolery: The only thing funders and institutions need do is to mandate immediate-deposit in institutional repositories (irrespective of whether access to the deposit is set immediately as Open Access or as Closed Access to comply with a publisher OA embargo). As long as the deposit itself is immediate, the institutional repository's email-eprint-request Button can then tide over worldwide research access and usage needs with one click from the requestor and one click from the author during any publisher embargo.
This allows all funders and all institutions to mandate immediate-deposit, for all papers, without exception, regardless of OA embargoes and embargo limits. The crucial thing to understand is that the sole barrier to 100% Green OA for the past 25 years has been keystrokes. Authors were afraid to do the keystrokes, because they were afraid of their publishers. Mandates were needed in order to embolden authors to do the keystrokes. The immediate-deposit mandate ensures that N-1 of the N requisite keystrokes get done for 100% of the articles published on the planet. The Button allows authors to do an Nth keystroke for each individual paper and each individual request whenever they wish, until either the embargo expires, or embargoes die their inevitable, natural and well-deserved deaths, or the author tires of having to keep re-doing the Nth keystroke in order to comply with publishers' mandates and sets repository access to immediate-OA -- whichever comes first.
The point is that with publishers that are already on the side of the angels, like IEEE, the author can already do one Nth keystroke, once and for all, today.
And history will look favorably on such publishers, for not trying to hold research access, impact and progress hostage to sustaining their current revenue streams and modus operandi, at all costs, come what may, for as long as they possibly could, by trying to embargo OA.
We cannot remind ourselves often enough that the publishing tail must not be allowed to keep wagging the research dog.
For life after universal Green OA (the transition from pre-Green subscriptions and Fools-Gold to post-Green Fair-Gold) see the references below.
Harnad, S. (2007) The Green Road to Open Access: A Leveraged Transition. In: Anna Gacs (Ed). The Culture of Periodicals from the Perspective of the Electronic Age. L'Harmattan. 99-106.
Houghton, J. & Swan, A. (2013) Planting the Green Seeds for a Golden Harvest: Comments and Clarifications on "Going for Gold". D-Lib Magazine 19 (1/2)
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