Tuesday, December 10. 2013
Beall, Jeffrey (2013) The Open-Access Movement is Not Really about Open Access. TripleC Communication, Capitalism & Critique Journal. 11(2): 589-597
This wacky article is easy to debunk, though I still think Jeff Beall is doing something useful with his list naming and shaming junk journals. It reveals, however, that Jeff is driven by some sort of fanciful conspiracy theory! 'OA is all an anti-capitalist plot.' (Even on a quick skim it is evident that his article is rife with half-truths, errors and downright nonsense. Pity. It will diminish the credibility of his valid exposés. Maybe this is a good thing, if the judgment and motivation behind Beall's list is as kooky as this article, but it will now also give the genuine "predatory" junk-journals some specious arguments for discrediting Jeff's work altogether. It will also furnish the publishing lobby with some good sound-bites -- but they use them at their peril, because of all the patent nonsense in which they are inseparably embedded!)
Now a few deadpan rejoinders to just the most egregious howlers:
"ABSTRACT: While the open-access (OA) movement purports to be about making scholarly content open-access, its true motives are much different. The OA movement is an anti-corporatist movement that wants to deny the freedom of the press to companies it disagrees with. The movement is also actively imposing onerous mandates on researchers, mandates that restrict individual freedom. To boost the open-access movement, its leaders sacrifice the academic futures of young scholars and those from developing countries, pressuring them to publish in lower-quality open-access journals. The open-access movement has fostered the creation of numerous predatory publishers and standalone journals, increasing the amount of research misconduct in scholarly publications and the amount of pseudo-science that is published as if it were authentic science."There are two ways to provide OA: Publish your article in an OA journal (Gold OA) - or -
Publish in any journal you freely choose, and self-archive your final peer-reviewed draft in your institution's OA repository (Green OA).
"The open-access movement isn't really about open access. Instead, it is about collectivizing production and denying the freedom of the press from those who prefer the subscription model of scholarly publishing. It is an anti-corporatist, oppressive and negative movement, one that uses young researchers and researchers from developing countries as pawns to artificially force the make-believe gold and green open-access models to work. The movement relies on unnatural mandates that take free choice away from individual researchers, mandates set and enforced by an onerous cadre of Soros-funded European autocrats…"Green OA provides online access to peer-reviewed research for all potential users, not just those at subscribing institutions.
With Green OA mandated, those who wish to continue paying subscriptions (and can afford to) are free to keep on paying them for as long as they like.
Publish in any journal you freely choose, and self-archive your final peer-reviewed draft in your institution's OA repository (Green OA).
"The open-access movement is a failed social movement and a false messiah, but its promoters refuse to admit this. The emergence of numerous predatory publishers – a product of the open-access movement – has poisoned scholarly communication, fostering research misconduct and the publishing of pseudo-science, but OA advocates refuse to recognize the growing problem. By instituting a policy of exchanging funds between researchers and publishers, the movement has fostered corruption on a grand scale. Instead of arguing for openaccess, we must determine and settle on the best model for the distribution of scholarly research, and it's clear that neither green nor gold open-access is that model…"There are two ways to provide OA: Publish your article in an OA journal (Gold OA) - or -
Publish in any journal you freely choose, and self-archive your final peer-reviewed draft in your institution's OA repository (Green OA).
"Open access advocates think they know better than everyone else and want to impose their policies on others. Thus, the open access movement has the serious side-effect of taking away other's freedom from them. We observe this tendency in institutional mandates. Harnad (2013) goes so far as to propose [an]…Orwellian system of mandates… documented [in a] table of mandate strength, with the most restrictive pegged at level 12, with the designation "immediate deposit + performance evaluation (no waiver option)".Publish in any journal you freely choose, and self-archive your final peer-reviewed draft in your institution's OA repository (Green OA).
"A social movement that needs mandates to work is doomed to fail. A social movement that uses mandates is abusive and tantamount to academic slavery. Researchers need more freedom in their decisions not less. How can we expect and demand academic freedom from our universities when we impose oppressive mandates upon ourselves?…"Publish in any journal you freely choose, and self-archive your final peer-reviewed draft in your institution's OA repository (Green OA).
(Perhaps a publish-or-perish mandate, too, is academic slavery? Or a "show-up-for-your-lectures-or-you're-fired" mandate? Or a mandate to submit CVs digitally instead of in print? Or not smoke on the premises?)
"[F]rom their high-salaried comfortable positions…OA advocates... demand that for-profit, scholarly journal publishers not be involved in scholarly publishing and devise ways (such as green open-access) to defeat and eliminate them…"Green OA provides online access to peer-reviewed research for all potential users, not just those at subscribing institutions.
With Green OA mandated, those who wish to continue paying subscriptions (and can afford to) are free to keep on paying them for as long as they like.
If and when globally mandated Green OA makes subscriptions unsustainable, journals will cut out inessential products and services (such as print edition, online edition, access-provision and archiving) and their costs, and downsize to providing peer review alone, paid for, per outgoing institutional article, out of the institution's incoming journal subscription cancellation savings.
"OA advocates use specious arguments to lobby for mandates, focusing only on the supposed economic benefits of open access and ignoring the value additions provided by professional publishers. The arguments imply that publishers are not really needed; all researchers need to do is upload their work, an action that constitutes publishing, and that this act results in a product that is somehow similar to the products that professional publishers produce…."Green OA is the peer-reviewed draft. Subscriptions pay for peer review today. If cancelled, the savings will pay for peer review (and any other publisher product or service for which there is still a demand left, once Green OA repositories are doing all the access-provision and archiving). Peer-reviewed publishing is peer-reviewed publishing, not public uploading.
Monday, December 9. 2013
The Green/Gold distinction (which is based on who provides the access: the publisher [Gold] or the author [Green]) is more important now than ever, as publishers fight to retain control of their content. The distinction resolves confusion and is simple to understand (but then needs to be adhered to).
The OA movement should resolutely push for Green OA; Green OA mandates should be formulated to ensure that compliance is by the party bound by the mandate (the fundee, if a funder mandate, the employee, if an institutional mandate). On no account should mandates rely on compliance by a 2nd party, the publisher, who is not bound by the mandate and has every interest in maintaining control over the content.
There is a 3rd way in which articles can be made OA of course, other than by the author (or the author's assigns) (Green) or by the publisher (Gold): It can be made OA by a 3rd party -- either a user or a rival publisher or service provider. This is partly what the Elsevier/academia.edu kerfuffle is about, and it will no doubt spread to other 3rd party providers like ResearchGate, Mendeley and the like. (It also concerns versions, because Green OA usually involves only the author's final draft whereas 3rd-party OA often involves the publisher's proprietary version-of-record.)
My advice to those who are up in arms about Elsevier's take-down notice for 3rd-party service providers is to redirect your resentment toward doing something legal and feasible, namely, mandating and depositing the refereed, accepted author-draft in your institutional repository immediately upon acceptance, and making it OA as soon as your can (or wish).
The term "OA" (and the goal of the OA movement) should also continue to be reserved for immediate (online) access. The inverse of Open Access is Access Denial. Access is denied by Access Tolls (subscriptions, licenses, pay-to-view); but, just as surely, access is denied by Access Embargoes. Hence it is a contradiction in terms to call Embargoed Access "Delayed Open Access." It is Delayed Access (DA), just as Toll Access is Toll Access (TA), not "Toll Open Access!".
And a one year access embargo is now the real target to beat (as publishers already know all too well). Access delayed for a year is not a victory for the advocates of Open Access; nor is it a solution to the Access/Impact problem in the online era. A 1-year delay might be a convenient unit for doing bibliometric measurements on the growth and latency of Green and Gold Access (and a welcome compromise and marketing ploy for the publishing industry), but "Open Access" should continue to be reserved for immediate, toll-free (and permanent!) online access.
Sunday, December 8. 2013
Elsevier may have enough clout with take-down notices to 3rd-party service providers like academia.edu, ResearchGate or (its own!) Mendeley (and might be able to weather the fierce backlash blizzard that will now follow) -- but not if they try it with authors or institutions self-archiving the refereed final drafts of their own research output.
This latest incident is yet another cue to push worldwide for the adoption of immediate institutional deposit mandates (and the repositories' automated copy-request Button) by all research institutions and funders.
Since 2004 Elsevier formally recognizes their authors' right to do immediate, unembargoed OA self-archiving of their refereed final drafts (not the Elsevier PDF version of record) on their institutional websites.
And even if they ever do try to rescind that, closed-access deposit is immune to take-down notices.
(But I don't think Elsevier will dare arouse that global backlash by rescinding its 9-year-old policy of endorsing unembargoed Green OA by Elsevier authors -- they will instead try to hope that they can either bluff authors off with their empty double-talk about "systematicity" and "voluntariness" or buy their institutions off by sweetening their publication big-deal on condition they don't mandate Green OA…)
The prediction that "It is almost certain that within the next few years most journals will become [Delayed] Gold (with an embargo of 12 months)" is an extrapolation and inference from the manifest pattern across the last half-decade:
1. Journal publishers know (better than anyone) that OA is inevitable and unstoppable, only delayable (via embargoes).The publishers' calculation is that since free access after a year is a foregone conclusion, because of Green mandates, it's better (for publishers) if that free access is provided by publishers themselves, as Delayed Gold, so it all remains in their hands (archiving, access-provision, navigation, search, reference linking, re-use, re-publication, etc.).
One-year delayed Gold is also being offered by publishers as insurance against the Green author's version taking over the function of the publisher's version of record.
(Publishers even have a faint hope that 1-year Gold might take the wind out of the sails of Green mandates and the clamor for OA altogether: "Maybe if everyone gets Gold access after a year, that will be the end of it! Back to subscription business as before -- unless the market prefers instead to keep paying the same price that it now pays for subscriptions, but in exchange for immediate, un-embargoed Gold OA, as in SCOAP3 or hybrid Gold…")
But I think most publishers also know that sustaining their current subscription revenue levels is a pipe-dream, and that all their tactics are really doing as long as they succeed is holding back the optimal and inevitable outcome for refereed research in the OA era for as long as they possibly can:
And the inevitable outcome is immediate Green OA, with authors posting their refereed, accepted final drafts free for all online immediately upon acceptance for publication. That draft itself will in turn become the version of record, because subscriptions to the publisher's print and online version will become unsustainable once the Green OA version is free for all.
Under mounting cancellation pressure induced by immediate Green OA, publishers will have to cut inessential costs by phasing out the print and online version of record, offloading all access-provision and archiving onto the global network of Green OA institutional repositories, and downsizing to just the provision of the peer review service alone, paid for -- per paper, per round of peer review, as Fair Gold (instead of today's over-priced, double-paid and double-dipped Fool's Gold) -- out of a fraction of each institution's annual windfall savings from their cancelled annual subscriptions.
So both the 1-year embargo on Green and the 1-year release of Gold are attempts to fend off the above transition: OA has become a fight for that first year of access: researchers need and want it immediately; publishers want to hold onto it until and unless they continue to be paid as much as they are being paid now. The purpose of embargoes is to hold OA hostage to publishers' current revenue levels, locking in content until they pay the right price.
But there is an antidote for publisher embargoes on immediate Green, and that is the immediate-institutional-deposit mandate plus the "Almost-OA" Request-a-Copy Button (the HEFCE/Liège model mandate), designating the deposit of the final refereed draft in the author's institutional repository immediately upon acceptance for publication as the sole mechanism for submitting publications for institutional performance review and for compliance with funding conditions.
Once those immediate-deposit mandates are universally adopted, universal OA will only be one keystroke away: The keystroke that sets access to an embargoed deposit as Open Access instead of Closed Access. With immediate-deposit ubiquitous, embargoes will very quickly die their inevitable and well-deserved deaths under the mounting global pressure for immediate OA (for which impatience will be all the more intensified by Button-based Almost-OA).
The scenario is speculative, to be sure, but grounded in the pragmatics, logic and evidence of what is actually going on today.
(Prepare for a vehement round of pseudo-legal publisher FUD about the copy-request Button as its adoption grows -- all groundless and ineffectual, but yet another attempt to delay the inevitable for as long as possible, by hook or by crook…)
Harnad, S. (2007) The Green Road to Open Access: A Leveraged Transition. In: Anna Gacs. The Culture of Periodicals from the Perspective of the Electronic Age. L'Harmattan. 99-106.
______ (2010) No-Fault Peer Review Charges: The Price of Selectivity Need Not Be Access Denied or Delayed. D-Lib Magazine 16 (7/8).
Hitchcock, S. (2013) The effect of open access and downloads ('hits') on citation impact: a bibliography of studies
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).
Laakso, M & Björk, B-Ch (2013) Delayed open access. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology 64(7): 1323–29
Rentier, B., & Thirion, P. (2011). The Liège ORBi model: Mandatory policy without rights retention but linked to assessment processes.
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.)
Suber, P. (2012) Open Access. MIT Press.
References added in 2014:
Saturday, December 7. 2013
Bo-Christer Björk is quite right. The Elsevier study's arbitrary (and somewhat self-serving) 6-category classification system (each of whose categories is curiously labelled a "publishing system") leaves much to be desired.
It is not just what Elsevier called "Gold Open Access" that was Gold Open Access, but also what they called "Subsidised." The difference is merely that what they called Gold was publishing-fee-based Gold and what they called subsidized was subsidy-based Gold:
4. Open Archives
5. Green Open Access: Pre-print versions
6. Green Open Access: Accepted Author Manuscript versions
Elsevier also neglected to mention that "Subsidised" did not necessarily mean subsidized either: There are also subscription-based journals that make their online versions free immediately upon publication; hence they are likewise Gold OA journals.
What Elsevier called "Open Archives" is also not what it sounds like: It seems to be Delayed Access articles, accessible only after a publisher embargo, either on the publisher's website or in another central website, such as PubMed Central, where publishers also deposit, sometimes immediately, sometimes after an embargo.
The two Green Open Access categories are also ambiguous.The pre-print versions are (correctly) described as pre-refereeing drafts (but it would take a lot closer analysis to determine whether the pre-prints differ from the refereed version. It is easy to determine whether they were posted before the official publication date but far from easy to determine whether they were posted before refereeing. (The date of the letter of acceptance of the refereed draft is often one that only the author and the editor know -- though it is in some cases printed in the journal: did Elsevier look at that too?)
The post-refereeing author's drafts are presumably what they are described as being, but it is not clear by what criteria Elsevier distinguished them from pre-refeeeing drafts (except when they were in an institutional repository and specifically tagged as unrefereed).
So, as Bo-Christer points out, there are many methodological questions about the data without whose answers their meaningfulness and interpretability is limited. I would say that the timing issue is perhaps the most important one. And to sort things out I would like to propose a different system of classification:
Open Access (OA): The term OA should be reserved for immediate OA, regardless whether it is provided by the publisher (Gold) or the author (Green). A reasonable error-margin for OA should be within 3 months or less from publication date. Anything longer begins to overlap with publisher embargoes (of 6, 12, 24 months or longer).
Delayed Access (DA): The term DA should be used for delays of more than 6 months. And besides the usefulness of separately counting 6, 12, and 24 month DA, DA should also be analyzed as a continuous variable, reckoned in months starting from the date of publication (including negative delays, when authors post the refereed draft during the interval from acceptance date to publication date. The unrefereed preprint, however, should not be mixed into this; it should be treated as a separate point of comparison.
So there is Gold OA (immediate), Green OA (immediate), Gold DA and Green DA (measured by 6-month intervals as well as continuously in months.
If a separate distinction is sought within Gold, then fee-based Gold, subsidy-based Gold and subscription-based Gold can be compared, for both OA and DA. The locus of deposit of the Gold is not relevant, but the fact that it was done by the publisher rather than the author (or the author's assigns) is extremely relevant.
For Green OA and DA it is also important to compare locus of deposit (institutional vs. institution-external). See mandates below.
In all cases independence and redundancy should uniformly be controlled: Whenever a positive "hit" is made in any category, it has to be checked whether there are any instances of the same paper in other categories. Otherwise the data are not mutually exclusive.
If desired, all the above can be further subdivided in terms of Gratis (free online access) and Libre (free online access plus re-use rights) OA and DA.
Tracking Gold has the advantage of having clear unambiguous timing (except if the publication date differs from the date the journal actually appears) and of being exhaustively searchable without having to sample or check (if one has an index of the Gold OA and DA journals).
Tracking Green is much harder, but it must be done, because the fight for OA is rapidly becoming the fight against embargoes. That's why Green OA should be reserved for immediate access. It is almost certain that within the next few years most journals will become Gold DA (with an embargo of 12 months). Hence 12 months is the figure to beat, and Green DA after 18 months will not be of much use at all.
And the best way to push for immediate Green OA, is to upgrade all Green mandates to require immediate institutional deposit, irrespective of how long an embargo the mandate allows on DA. Requiring immediate deposit does not guarantee immediate OA, but it guarantees immediate Almost-OA, mediated by the repository's automated copy-request Button, requiring only one click from the requestor and one click from the author.
The immediate-deposit requirement plus the Button not only fits all OA mandates (no matter how they handle embargoes of copyright), making it possible for all institutions and funders to adopt it universally, but it also delivers the greatest amount of immediate access for 100% of deposits: immediate Green OA for X% plus (100-X)% Button-mediated Almost OA. And this, in turn will increase the universal demand for immediacy to the point where publisher embargoes will no longer be able to plug the flood-gates and the research community will have the 100% immediate Green OA it should have had ever since the creation of the web made it possible by making it possible to free the genie from the bottle.
Friday, December 6. 2013
Elsevier has just conducted and published a study commissioned by UK BIS: "International Comparative Performance of the UK Research Base – 2013"
This study finds twice as much Green OA (11.6%) as Gold OA (5.9%) in the UK (where both Green OA repositories and Green OA mandates began) and about equal levels of Green (5.0%) and Gold (5.5%) in the rest of the world.
There are methodological weaknesses in the Elsevier study, which was based on SCOPUS data (Gold data are direct and based on the whole data set, Green data are partial and based on hand-sampling; timing is not taken into account; categories of OA are often arbitrary and not mutually exclusive, etc). But the overall pattern may have some validity.
What does it mean?
It means the effects of Green OA mandates in the UK -- where there are relatively more of them, and they have been there for a half decade or more -- are detectable, compared to the rest of the world, where mandates are relatively fewer.
But 11.6% Green is just a pale, partial indicator of how much OA Green OA mandates generate: If instead of looking at the world (where about 1% of institutions and funders have OA mandates) or the UK (where the percentage is somewhat higher, but many of the mandates are still weak and ineffective ones), one looks specifically at the OA percentages for effectively mandated institutions, the Green figure jumps to over 80% (about half of it immediate-OA and half embargoed OA: deposited, and accessible during the embargo via the repository's automated copy-request Button, with a click from the requestor and a click from the author).
So if the planet's current level of Green OA is 11.6%, its level will jump to at least 80% as effective Green OA mandates are adopted.
Meanwhile, Gold OA will continue to be unnecessary, over-priced, double-paid (which journal subscriptions still need to be paid) and potentially even double-dipped (if paid to the same hybrid subscription/Gold publisher) out of scarce research funds contributed by UK tax-payers ("Fool's Gold").
But once Green OA prevails worldwide, Fair Gold (and all the Libre OA re-use rights that users need and authors want to provide) will not be far behind.
We are currently gathering data to test whether the immediate-deposit (HEFCE/Liege) Green OA mandate model is indeed the most effective mandate (compared, for example, with the Harvard copyright-retention model with opt-out, or the NIH model with a 12 month embargo) in terms of deposit percentage and timing.
P.S. Needless to say, the fact that the UK's Green OA rate is twice as high as its Gold OA rate is true despite the new Finch/FCUK policy which subsidizes and prefers Gold and tries to downgrade Green -- certainly not because of it!
Sunday, December 1. 2013
Laakso & Björk (2013) compare the citation impact of immediate Gold OA with delayed Gold and toll-access. They find that delayed-Gold journals average twice as many citations per article as toll-access journals and three times as many as immediate-Gold journals.
This is based on comparisons between different journals. But journals differ in both subject matter and quality -- and one of the ways to try to equate them to make them comparable for quality is to equate them for impact.
So if journals are not equated for subject matter and quality, one is comparing apples and oranges. But if immediate Gold OA, delayed-Gold and toll-access journals are equated for impact, one can't compare impact for delayed vs. immediate Gold -- in fact one can't compare the journals for citation impact at al!!
A feasible way to compare immediate-OA with delayed-access and toll-access is via Green OA based on within-journal comparisons instead of between-journal comparisons, by comparing articles published within the same journal and year that are and are not made Green OA. To do this one needs both the date of publication and the date the article was made Green OA.
It is impossible to get the OA date for webwide deposits in general, but for repository deposits it is possible.
We do have some very preliminary and partial data from the University of Minho repository, but the sample is still too small to do within-journal comparisons. Immediate Green OA articles do have more citations on average than Delayed Access articles (see Figures 2c and 3c) despite the availability of the automated "Almost-OA" Button during the delay period, but these citation counts are just absolute ones, rather than relative to within-journal matched toll-access controls. Hence these are likewise still comparisons between apples and oranges. (Note also that the large number of undeposited articles is likewise unmatched, and not based on their respective within-journal matched toll-access controls.)
The sample will grow as the number of Green OA mandates and repository deposits worldwide grows. The vast unused potential for immediate Green-OA and Almost-OA has long been known and noted -- most recently by Laakso (2014).
Gargouri, Yassine, Larivière, Vincent & Harnad, Stevan (2013) Ten-year Analysis of University of Minho Green OA Self-Archiving Mandate (in E Rodrigues, Ed. title to come)
Laakso, M., & Björk, B. C. (2013). Delayed open access: An overlooked high-impact category of openly available scientific literature. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology.
Laakso, M (2014) Green open access policies of scholarly journal publishers: a study of what, when, and where self-archiving is allowed. Scientometrics (in press)
Open Access ≠ Open Access Journals. In AAAS's ScienceInsider, Jocelyn Kaiser reports the results of yet another survey showing that researchers want Open Access but do not provide it.
But if you ask the wrong questions, you get the wrong answers.
Open Access (OA) means free online access to peer-reviewed journal articles.
OA provides for researchers the advantage of maximizing the access, uptake, usage, applications, progress and impact of their research findings by making them accessible to all potential users, not just subscribers. Most researchers already know this.
There are two ways for researchers to provide OA:
--- (1) either researchers publish in an OA journal, which makes its article free for all online ("Gold OA");
--- (2) or researchers publish in their journal of choice but also self-archive their final peer-reviewed draft in their institutional OA repository, which makes it free for all online ("Green OA").
Gold OA has all the disadvantages mentioned and not mentioned by Kaiser: (i) not the author's established journal of choice; (iii) may have low or no peer-review standards (iii) may cost the author money to publish, out of scarce research funds.
That explains why most authors want OA but few provide Gold OA (as this latest Science survey yet again found).
About twice as many authors provide Green OA as Gold OA, but that's still very few: So what are the reasons authors don't provide Green OA?
Authors don't provide Green OA because they (i) fear it might be illegal; (ii) fear it might jeopardize publishing in their journal of choice; (iii) fear it might jeopardize peer-reviewed publishing itself.
The difference between the reasons why authors don't provide Gold OA and the reasons they don't provide Green OA is that the former are valid reasons and the latter are not.
But the solution is already being implemented worldwide, although Kaiser does not mention it:
Research funders and research institutions worldwide are mandating (requiring) Green OA.
Over 60% of journals already formally endorse immediate, unembargoed Green OA.
For the remaining 40% of articles, published in journals that embargo Green OA for 6, 12, 24 months or longer, they can be deposited as Closed Access (CA) instead of OA duriing the embargo: institutional repositories have a request-a-copy Button that allows users to request and authors to provide an email copy of any CA deposit with one click each ("Almost-OA").
So Green OA mandates can provide at least 60% immediate OA plus 40% Almost-OA. (This unused potential for immediate Green-OA and Almost-OA has long been known and noted -- most recently by Laakso (2014)).
And if Green OA mandates eventually make subscriptions unsustainable -- because Green OA from OA institutional repositories makes it possible for institutions to cancel their subscriptions -- then journals will cut costs (leaving all access-provision and archiving to the Green OA repositories), downsize and convert to Gold OA, providing peer review at a fair, affordable, sustainable price, paid for out of the institutions' subscription cancellation savings (not authors' research funds).
So mandatory Green OA is (i) legal, (ii) does not jeopardize authors' publishing in their journal of choice and (iii) does not jeopardize publishing or peer review:
Mandating Green OA merely provides Green OA (and Almost-OA) until journals convert to affordable Gold OA so that (i) authors can continue to publish in their established journal of choice; (ii) need not risk low or no peer-review standards (iii) need not pay to publish out of scarce research funds.
It would have been more complicated for the Science survey to explain the Green/Gold contingencies before asking the questions, but it would have been more informative than asking, as this survey did, "What is the Sound of One Hand Clapping?"
The outcome would have been that the vast majority of researchers will willingly comply with a Green OA mandate, exactly as had already been found by Swan & Brown's classic international JISC survey in 2005:
Friday, November 29. 2013
On Thu, Nov 28, 2013 Bo-Christer Björk wrote in GOAL: "The idea that publishers would tolerate large scale mandate driven green OA (say 50-60 %) of articles with no embargoes or counteractions is pretty naive. Elsevier has shown the way with rules stipulating that Green OA is OK, unless its mandated, in which case they require special deals with the the institutions in question. And many publishers who previously had no embargo periods are starting to define such."
Björk's comment, unfortunately completely misses the point.
Yes, publishers can and will try to impose embargoes on Green OA, especially encouraged by the perverse effects of the UK's Finch/RCUK preference and subsidy for Gold.
That is not being denied, it was being affirmed: "Joint 'Re-Engineering' Plan of UK Government and UK Publisher Lobby for 'Nudging' UK Researchers Toward Gold Open Access"
But the immediate-deposit (HEFCE/Liege) mandates are immune to these publisher embargoes. They are the compromise mandate that fits all funders and institutions, regardless of how long a maximal publisher embargo they allow.
(Green OA after one a one-year embargo has been pretty much conceded by all publishers, whether or not they admit it, so that's the worst case scenario; one year of access-denial is now the figure to beat: The HEFCE/Liege mandates get everything deposited in institutional repositories immediately upon acceptance for publication, whether or not it is made OA immediately. And that means that access to everything immediately becomes at most 2 keystrokes away, one from the requestor, one from the author, thanks to the repositories' automated "Almost-OA" Button: see more below.)
As to Elsevier's "special deals" for mandating institutions: sensible institutions will politely inform Elsevier that they are, as always, quite prepared to negotiate with publishers about subscription pricing ("Big Deals") -- but definitely not about university internal record-keeping and archiving policy, which is none of publishers' business.
As to Elsevier authors (who -- not their universities! -- are the ones negotiating rights agreements with their publishers): They can rest assured that Elsevier is still completely on the Side of the Angels in its explicit, formal recognition of their authors' right to provide immediate, unembargoed (Green, Gratis) OA to their final drafts, by self-archiving them online, accessible free for all, in their institutional repositories -- a right that Elsevier has formally recognized ever since 2004.
Let me repeat that very clearly: All Elsevier authors today retain the right to make their papers OA immediately upon publication -- no embargo -- by depositing their final refereed drafts in their institutional repositories and setting access to them as OA immediately.
The recently added Elsevier double-talk about "voluntariness" and "systematicity" has absolutely no legal force or meaning. As it stands, it is just vacuous, pseudo-legal FUD and can and should be safely ignored by authors.
And if and when Elsevier (putting at further risk its already rather unhappy public image) ever does decide to bite the bullet and changes its rights agreements from what they state currently to state instead that, as of today, Elsevier authors no longer retain the right to make their papers (Green, Gratis) OA unembargoed, then the institutional repositories' automated request-a-copy Button will tide over researcher needs during the embargo with one click from the user to request a copy and one click by the author to provide one. This is not OA, but it's "Almost-OA."
Once the immediate-deposit mandate, the Button, and X% Immediate-OA + (100-X)% Almost-OA prevail worldwide, it won't be much longer till embargoes die their inevitable and well-deserved deaths under the overwhelming worldwide pressure for OA, which by then will already all be only one keystroke away.
Meanwhile, X% Immediate-OA + (100-X)% Almost-OA will already be incomparably more access than all non-subscribing would-be users have (or have ever had) till now.
It is rather hard to say on whose side Björk is on, and why! It's one thing to objectively measure the level and growth rate of Green and Gold OA, Immediate and Delayed, across disciplines and time, as Björk does, valuably. It's a rather different thing to advocate for Gold OA.
Now, I am myself an unambiguous and unambivalent advocate for Green OA, whether when I am objectively measuring its growth rates or designing tools and policies to facilitate and accelerate mandating it. And my reasons (likewise no secrets) are the many reasons that Green OA can be facilitated and accelerated by mandating it.
Gold OA, in contrast, costs extra money (over and above uncancellable subscriptions) and can only grow on publishers' terms, and publishers' timetable.
I know of no reason to believe that OA can or will grow faster via the paid Gold route than the mandated Green route: The reason Björk gives above (publisher embargoes) certainly does not entail that conclusion at all. Immediate-deposit mandates are immune to publisher embargoes and will accelerate the demand and supply of OA unstoppably as they are adopted more and more widely.
That suggests a new parameter whose growth rate Björk and others might now find it interesting to measure: The growth rates of various kinds of mandates, keeping a special eye on the most powerful and effective one: The HEFCE/Liege model. Because that's where most of the action in the next few years will be taking place...
Wednesday, November 27. 2013
Joint "Re-Engineering" Plan
of UK Government and UK Publisher Lobby
for "Nudging" UK Researchers
Toward Gold Open Access
UKGOV: "...in the long term the most effective form of OA will be Gold OA…. there is no distinction to be made between the Government's and BISCOM's direction of travel for OA. The envisaged final destination is likely to be what the Finch Group termed a 'mixed economy' of Gold and Green OA, the proportions of which the decisions of researchers and behaviour in the market will decide…"Throughout its response to BIS, it is evident that the UK Government is not perceiving OA primarily as a means of maximizing UK research uptake and impact -- for the benefit of the UK tax-payers that fund the research, and for the progress and productivity of research, in the UK and world-wide -- but as a means of sustaining the current revenue streams of peer-reviewed journal publishers, come what may.
That is why the Government's "travel" plans tend to be framed far less in terms of the real needs of UK research and researchers and far more in terms of "business models," "market," a "mixed economy," and how these can be "re-engineered" to keep them congruent with publishers' terms and timetable.
There seems to be little room in the UK Government's vision for even considering the following contingencies:
-- that 100% OA is not only already fully feasible today, thanks to the online medium, but also urgent for research and researchers, indeed already overdue;
-- that the online era has already made a lot of the traditional products and services of journal publishers (and their costs) obsolete;
-- that publishers' current revenue streams are greatly and needlessly inflated;
-- and that the embargoes and other retardants that publishers are themselves placing in the path of OA are not, in reality, necessities, to sustain the essential functions of peer-reviewed journal publishing, as publishers claim; they are merely contrived to prop up the expensive and obsolescent functions of publishers in order to sustain publishers' current highly inflated levels of income at all costs, come what may.
What is keeping the economy "mixed" and slow to provide OA, in other words, is that publishers are holding OA hostage to their current revenue streams, by embargoing Green, and transitioning to Gold only on terms and on a timetable that lock in those revenue streams.
The UK Government's "re-engineering" plans are designed to make sure any transition stays on that track and timetable.
UKGOV: "...Government's approach, therefore, amounts to a subtle re-engineering of the present market. By 'nudging' the flow of revenue for the publishing industry towards it becoming income from Article Publication Charges (APCs) for Gold OA…"This "subtle re-engineering of the present market" consists of sustaining current publisher income streams (and modera operandi) by only providing OA on condition that current subscription revenue levels per article are sustained, and continue to be collectable in the form of Gold APCs in place of subscriptions.
There is no thought given to the distinct possibility that with all peer-reviewed final drafts deposited in institutional Green OA repositories, there will no longer be any need or demand for a print edition, online edition, access-provision or archiving (and their associated costs) from the peer-reviewed journal publisher: only the need for peer review (which is only a fraction of the cost of subscription publishing today).
And no thought of the real "market" that could indeed decide whether in a 100% Green OA world there will be any real demand left for anything else that peer-reviewed journal publishers offer, forcibly co-bundled with the peer review.
UK publicly funded research is being conceived by the UK Government as if it were primarily an investment in the journal publishing industry rather than in research productivity, applications and progress.
Some "nudge"! Some notion!
UKGOV: "...96% of journals have an embargo period of 24 months or less; 64% of journals have an embargo period of 12 months or less… This illustrates the extent to which the Government's policy already is being complied with…"Hardly. The effect of the UK policy has been precisely the opposite. More and longer embargoes have been adopted by publishers since the new UK policy was announced and began to be implemented.
Yet despite this perverse effect, the percentage of publishers that endorse immediate, unembargoed Green OA remains over 60% according to SHERPA Romeo data (much as it was before the Finch/RCUK policy). (This figure is camouflaged in the Government's composite category of 64% with "an embargo period of 12 months or less .")
(And aren't the ones who are supposed to comply with a funder mandate the fundees, rather than publishers? Are we mixing up our constituencies here -- or simply giving a hint of who's really calling the shots?)
UKGOV: "...The Government, through HEFCE and the Research Councils, will continue to encourage Jisc, the Open Access Implementation Group (OAIG) and others to promote standardisation and compliance across subject and institutional repositories…"Far more important for the UK Government to promote would be the institutional adoption of a mechanism for verifying compliance with its OA policy -- in particular, its Green option (rather than just focusing on how the Gold is spent). HEFCE has provided a potential mechanism, in requiring immediate deposit (whether or not OA to the deposit is embargoed) for REF eligibility.
Institutions (ever eager to ensure compliance with funders' conditions) will thereby be recruited and strongly motivated to monitor and ensure timely compliance. (Funding that would be a constructive use for unspent RCUK Gold OA funding.)
UKGOV: "...RCUK have balanced the objective of timely OA to all users with the need to respect, through a mutually acceptable embargo period, sustainable business models…"Translation: RCUK has collaborated with publishers in embargoing OA to make sure that OA is only provided on publishers' terms and timetable. (This is the UK/publishing-industry "re-engineering" plan.)
Fortunately, there is a remedy for this, and that is the HEFCE immediate-deposit mandate, plus the institutional repositories' automated request-a-copy Button, which allows users to request and authors to provide (with one click each) a copy for research or educational purposes during any embargo (i.e., the Liege-model mandate, which is the one the UK should adopt.)
UKGOV: "...A re-engineering of the research publications market entails a journey not an event. Necessarily it requires a period of transition for the process of change. Longer embargo periods, as illustrated below, play an important part under some circumstances during the transition process…"Translation: RCUK has collaborated with publishers in embargoing OA to make sure that OA is only provided on publishers' terms and timetable.
This "journey" to "re-engineer the research publications market" is actually a government-funded business trip to guarantee publishers' current income at UK tax-payers' expense (and at the cost of lost research usage and impact). Not a happy "event" for UK research and researchers -- or for global OA.
UKGOV: "...Government believes that the first signs of the impact of its OA policy on embargo periods have been beneficial…"Beneficial for publishers, perhaps, but certainly not for researchers, nor for OA, since the policy's perverse effect has been to encourage publishers to adopt and extend embargoes, not to shorten or drop them. (Nevertheless, over 60% of journals still do not embargo Green OA, despite the UK OA policy.)
UKGOV: "...as stated in David Willetts' letter of 20 June 2013, UK policy already is leading to shorter embargo periods for Green OA…"It is very hard to imagine what David Willetts is imagining here: The adoption of a Green OA embargo that is within Finch/RCUK's current allowable limits is hardly a triumph for OA if the publisher formerly did not embargo Green OA at all (or had not yet formulated a policy).
Moreover, an embargo of a year or longer is no boon at all for OA. It is unspoken, but I think it's fairly clear that most publishers are by now resigned to one-year embargoes on Green, along with a mandated push toward hybrid Gold. They know that most of the revenue in question comes from that first year.
So a "deal" to let publishers hold OA hostage to that one-year embargo (or else pay Gold) is not good news for research and research progress in an era where immediate 100% Green OA is fully within reach, technically and practically speaking, and where the costs of peer-reviewed journal publishing could be radically reduced if freed from the grip of publisher Green OA embargoes.
But again, there is a remedy for this, and that remedy is the HEFCE immediate-deposit mandate, plus the institutional repositories' automated request-a-copy Button, which allows users to request and authors to provide (with one click each) a copy for research or educational purposes during any embargo. (This is again the Liege-model mandate, which is the one the UK should adopt.)
UKGOV: "...Publication of the results of publicly funded research is an integral part of the research process…"This re-statement of the Wellcome Trust mantra continues to ignore the fact that the UK (but not Wellcome) also has to pay the costs of journal subscriptions. Hence the Gold APC costs are over and above subscription costs (which are likewise "a legitimate part of the cost of undertaking research").
That means Gold OA APCs today are needless double-payments, over and above uncancellable subscriptions: "Fool's Gold." The only way they can turn into "Fair Gold" is if mandatory Green OA first prevails, eventually allowing subscriptions to be cancelled (and driving down publication costs by offloading access-provision and archiving onto Green OA repositories).
Then the price of Gold will drop to a fair, affordable, sustainable level, single-paid out of the institutional subscription cancellation savings, instead of double-paid, needlessly, as now, out of scarce UK research funds -- needless because while subscriptions are still being paid (fully and fulsomely), Green OA can provide the OA.
UKGOV: "...HEFCE and other Funding Councils have agreed that QR funding may be used [to pay for Gold] at the discretion of the HEIs. Hence, HEIs have access to the necessary public funds to cover the cost of implementing the Government's and RCUK's OA policy…"For UK researchers and institutions who deplore wasting scarce research funds to pay publishers even more money, it is hardly solace to tell them that if their UK Gold allotment runs out, they can squander their research money from other sources on fool's gold too.
(But fortunately, be the Government ever so grudging about it, freedom of author choice between Green and Gold is now restored by RCUK, so the best protection against wasting UK research funds on Gold is to provide Green instead, via immediate-deposit, irrespective of embargo-length.)
UKGOV: "...The Government is aware of the reluctance of some HEIs to promote the Government's preference for Gold OA, on the grounds that it represents a reduction in funding available for research, but the cost of the Government's funded OA policy is estimated to be… approximately one per cent of the science budget… This is a marginal cost expected to be outweighed by the benefits to the economy arising from direct innovation and spill over benefits…"(1) As noted, the UK's designated funding for outgoing UK Gold is far from being the whole of the UK's publication funding: The UK continues to pay for essential incoming journal subscriptions. And it is that level of spending that the UK is collaborating with publishers to "re-engineer" so as to sustain it whether it's paid in the form of subscriptions or in the form of Gold APCs.
(2) So the extra marginal costs of the UK Gold subsidy (a further 1% of the UK's research spend) are over and above the existing UK publication spend.
(3) Researchers cannot be expected to welcome the loss of yet another 1% of their already sparse research funding -- and especially not when it is lost just for the purpose of propping up publishers' already inflated revenue levels, come what may, in exchange for an OA that researchers could have at no further expense (beyond the existing UK subscription spend) via Green OA -- if it were not for the publisher embargo on it -- an embargo that the UK government is reinforcing, with its joint "re-engineering" plans to "nudge" researchers toward Gold OA.
Fortunately, there is a remedy for this, and that is the HEFCE immediate-deposit mandate -- plus the institutional repositories' automated request-a-copy Button, which allows users to request and authors to provide (with one click each) a copy for research or educational purposes during any publisher embargo (i.e., the Liege-model mandate, which is the one the UK should adopt.)
Because RCUK has restored authors' freedom of choice of journal, and because HEFCE proposes requiring immediate-deposit for REF eligibility, UK researchers can choose to publish in any journal and can fulfill the RCUK mandate through immediate deposit in their institutional repository, whether or not OA to the deposit is embargoed. It is this immediate deposit that can -- with the help of the repository's automated request-a-copy Button during any embargo period -- "re-engineer" publishing to Fair Gold (after 100% Green OA has prevailed, and made it possible for publishers to downsize to an affordable, sustainable price for peer review alone) instead of the Fool's Gold toward which the UK government has set the "direction" for the UK's "journey" toward OA.
Gold OA the dominant form of OA? Far from the truth.BISCOM: "The Government and RCUK should clarify that Gold open access is the ultimate goal of, rather than the primary route to, their open access policies. We recommend that the Government and RCUK reconsider their preference for Gold open access during the five year transition period, and give due regard to the evidence of the vital role that Green open access and repositories have to play as the UK moves towards full open access. (Paragraph 70)"UKGOV: "...Gold OA, at 12 per cent, is now proving to be the dominant form of OA.
Spontaneous, unmandated Green OA is already twice that figure, and if effectively mandated (on the HEFCE/Liege model) Green OA is over 10 times that figure, with the majority of deposits being done even before the date of publication.
UKGOV: "...the Government and RCUK would maintain that the merits of Gold OA (immediate, final published version, compatibility with data mining, unrestricted access and re-use, with attribution) mean that it is preferred to Green OA.Preferred by whom? Finch/RCUK or UK researchers (and the rest of the world)?
(1) Much of today's Green OA is immediate; some of today's Gold OA is delayed. The embargoes are a result of publisher preference to sustain their current revenue levels come what may.
(2) To researchers who are denied access to unaffordable publishers' versions, toll-free online access to the author's Green OA final draft is the difference between night and day, insofar as research applications and progress are concerned.
(3) While access itself is restricted (both by publishers' subscription access tolls and by publishers' OA embargoes) freeing access is incomparably more important and urgent than paying publishers still more for further re-use rights.
(4) The fastest, fairest and surest way to reach Fair Gold OA and all the re-use rights users need and authors want to provide is to first mandate that authors provide Green OA -- rather than to require pre-emptive double-payment, over and above uncancellable subscriptions, out of scarce research funds, for Fool's Gold OA, at arbitrarily inflated prices, on the pretext of needing to sustain publishers' current revenue streams (otherwise peer-reviewed publishing will perish).
UKGOV: "...The use of repositories is a feature of both Gold and Green OA. In terms of the sustainability of long term access to published research and data…"Before institutional repositories can preserve access they must first provide it. To provide it they must have effective deposit mandates.
(There are no publisher embargoes holding up data-archiving, so it is a red herring to mention data in this context.)
The remedy is again obvious (to all but the UK Government: the publishing lobby is certainly fully aware of it, because it is fighting it tooth and nail):
Mandate immediate-deposit of all articles, whether published in a subscription journal or a Gold OA journal, whether OA is embargoed or immediate, whether the OA is Gratis (toll-free online access) or Libre (toll-free online access plus various re-use rights such as text-mining, re-mixing and re-publication).
That, with the help of the Button, will ensure that 100% Green Gratis OA -- and eventually Fair Libre Gold OA -- will come to pass as quickly as possible: affordably, scalably and sustainably.
UKGOV: "...the UK OA Decision Tree sets out clearly the direction of travel. This is not incompatible with researchers having a free choice as to whether or not to follow the preferred path. Government and RCUK hope they will choose to do so. Government welcomes RCUK retaining this decision tree. It has been agreed by all affected parties, and does not simply reflect the publishers' position, but the consensus position arrived at by members of the Finch Group…"I suppose it's enough that the Government agrees that UK researchers and institutions are free not to follow the preferred path, hence can ignore the decision tree.
But it would have been more forthright and sensible to abandon the decision tree altogether, rather than leave it as a misleading sign-post.
It is indeed true that the UK-Government/Publishing-Lobby joint "re-engineering" plan for "nudging" UK researchers toward (Fool's) Gold Open Access "does not simply reflect the publishers' position, but the consensus position arrived at by members of the Finch Group."
But what is patently false is that it has "been agreed by all affected parties."
UKGOV: "...Government believes that by [funding hybrid Gold] the rate of adoption of Gold OA by publishers and researchers alike will accelerate…"No doubt it will. But the goal of UK research, researchers, their institutions and the UK tax-payers who are funding the research is not to accelerate the UK rate of adoption of Gold OA but to accelerate the rate of provision of OA -- in the UK and worldwide.
UKGOV: "...Evidence quoted above from the Publishers Association suggests that this is already proving to be the case. Researchers would be disappointed to have publication in their favoured journals denied to them if they opt for Gold OA and publishers would not want the inefficiencies, or brand dilution effects, of always putting publication of Gold OA material in to a new and separate journal…"This ludicrous and embarassing piece of self-promotional spin is so obviously a page borrowed from the publishers' agenda that it does not deserve a reply. It is shameful that the Government of the United Kingdom is echoing this tendentious sales pitch as its own.
UKGOV: "...Government does not consider it appropriate for publishers to rely on retrospectively amortising their APC revenue to discount global subscription rates, as some now do. This may address 'double-dipping' in one sense, (no increase in total revenue to the publisher) but it does nothing to address the concerns of research intensive individual institutions, wherever they are located around the world. Such institutions paying APCs for Gold OA publication in particular journals should see some related and proportional discount in their total subscription fees, with the same publisher, to avoid them disproportionately funding the translation to Gold OA…"This pious homily is actually masking a piece of uncritical, unreflective and unrealistic nonsense:
If the Government agrees that a UK subscription rebate of only 6% of a UK Gold OA 6% overspend (i.e., 6% of 6%), over and above the UK's 100% subscription spend, is not an "appropriate" way for publishers to refrain from double-dipping, what on earth does the UK imagine publishers will do instead? Because if publishers simply deduct the fee for UK hybrid Gold OA directly from UK subscription fees, that's just tantamount to declaring the UK can have all the hybrid Gold OA it wants for free.
That would be just fine (since subscription fees are already paying the costs of publication in full): UK authors would automatically be free of embargoes and would automatically retain all desired re-use rights for the hybrid Gold journals in question.
But free hybrid Gold for subscribers is not at all what publishers have in mind, given how anxious they are to embargo Green (so I suggest that the UK re-discuss their joint "re-engineering" plans in this regard).
Here's a hint: Publishers are only interested in a transition scenario that guarantees their current income streams, regardless of where they come from. They are just as averse to immediate-Gold OA as to immediate-Green OA, because it is the sustainability of their current revenue levels that is at risk. So unless the hybrid Gold fees are real and sustainable -- which they are not, if they are merely funny-money, available to every subscribing institution as a free bonus -- publishers will not budge on the UK Government's plaintive nudge for a "proportional discount in their total subscription fees."
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