Thursday, March 14. 2013
("Re: RCUK fails to end ‘green’ embargo confusion" THE 14 March 2013)
What a mess! With publishers eagerly pawing at the Golden Door, and RCUK hopelessly waffling at Green embargo limits and their enforcement.
But relief is on the way! HEFCE has meanwhile quietly and gently proposed a solution that will moot all this relentless cupidity and stupidity.
HEFCE has proposed to mandate that in order to be eligible for the Research Excellence Framework (REF), the final, peer-reviewed drafts of all papers published as of 2014 will have to be deposited in the author's institutional repository immediately upon publication: no delays, no embargoes, no exceptions -- irrespective of whether the paper is published in a Gold OA journal or a subscription journal, and irrespective of the allowable length of the embargo on making the deposit OA: The deposit itself must be immediate.
This has the immense benefit that while the haggling continues about how much will be paid for Gold OA and how long Green OA may be embargoed, all papers will be faithfully deposited -- and deposited in institutional repositories, which means that all UK universities will thereby be recruited, as of 2014, to monitor and ensure that the deposits are made, and made immediately. (Institutions have an excellent track record for making sure that everything necessary for REF is done, and done reliably, because a lot of money and prestige is at stake for them.)
And one of the ingenious features of the proposed HEFCE/REF Green OA mandate is the stipulation that deposit may not be delayed: Authors cannot wait till just before the next REF, six years later, to do it. If the deposit was not immediate, the paper is ineligible for REF.
And, most brilliant stroke of all, this ensures that it is not just the 4 papers that are ultimately chosen for submission to REF that are deposited immediately -- for that choice is always a retrospective one, made after looking over the past 6 years' work, to pick the four best papers. Rarely will this be known in advance. So the safest policy will be to deposit all papers immediately, just in case.
This is precisely the compliance assurance mechanism the RCUK mandate so desperately needs in order to succeed, but the RCUK policy-makers have not yet had the wit to conceive and adopt. Well, HEFCE/REF have done it for them, bless them.
But immediate-deposit is not immediate-OA you say? Indeed it is not. It does, however, overcome OA's most formidable hurdle, which is getting all those papers into the institutional repositories, and right away: keystrokes. It is just those keystrokes that have stood between the research world and OA for over over two decades now.
Once the institutional repositories are reliably being filled to 100%, does anyone with the slightest imagination doubt what will follow, as nature (and human nature) takes its course?
First, the repositories will facilitate sending reprints to those who request a single copy for research purposes, with one click each. Sending reprints is not OA; researchers have been doing it for a half century. But they used to have to do it by reading Current Contents or scanning journals' contents lists, mailing reprint requests, and then waiting and hoping that authors would take the time and trouble and expense to mail them a reprint, as requested (and many did). But now the whole transaction is just one click each, and almost immediate, if the papers have been deposited and both parties are at the wheel.
But that's still just Almost-OA. Once immediate-deposit is mandated, however, about 60% of those deposits can be made immediately OA, because about 60% of journals already endorse immediate, unembargoed Green OA. (RCUK has already succeeded is dragging down that figure to somewhat closer to 50/50 with its perverse preference for Gold, inspiring hybrid Gold publishers to offer Gold and increase Green embargo lengths to try to force UK authors to pick paid Gold over cost-free Green).
Now that's about half immediate-OA plus half Almost-OA to tide over researcher needs during the embargo. But does anyone have any doubt about what will happen next? As OA and Almost-OA grow, and the research community tastes more and more of what it's like to have half immediate-OA and half Almost-OA, all the disciplines that have not yet had the sense to do it will begin to do what almost 100% of physicists have already been doing for 20 years now without so much as a moment's hesitation or a "by your leave":
That last remaining keystroke, once a paper is written, revised, accepted and deposited -- the keystroke that makes the paper OA -- will be done sooner and sooner, more and more, until the embargoes with which publishers are trying to hold research hostage will all die their natural and well-deserved deaths as the research community learns to do the obvious, optimal and inevitable, in the online era.
(Nor will peer-reviewed journal publishing die, as publishers keep warning menacingly: It will simply convert to Gold OA -- but only after the pressure from Green OA has forced journals to phase out all obsolete products and services and their costs: that means phasing out the print version and the online version, and offloading all access-providing and archiving onto the global network of Green OA institutional repositories. Then, instead of double-paying for Gold OA, as Finch folly and RCUK recklessness would have us do -- subscriptions plus Gold OA fees -- post-Green Gold OA will just be a fee for the peer review service, at a fair, affordable and sustainable price, paid for out of a fraction of institutions' annual savings from subscription cancellations instead of out of scarce research funds, over and above subscriptions, as now. Pre-Green Gold is Fool's Gold: Post-Green Gold is Fair Gold.)
Wednesday, March 13. 2013
Executive Summary: The proposed HEFCE/REF Open Access [OA] mandate -- that in order to be eligible for REF, the peer-reviewed final draft of all journal articles must be deposited in the author’s institutional repository immediately upon publication, with embargoes applicable only to the date at which the article must be made OA is excellent, and provides exactly the sort of complement required by the RCUK OA mandate. It ensures that authors deposit immediately and institutionally and it recruits their institutions to monitor and ensure compliance.
For journal articles, no individual or disciplinary exceptions or exemptions to the immediate-deposit are needed, but embargo length can be adapted to the discipline or even to exceptional individual cases.
Embargo length is even more important for open data, and should be carefully and flexibly adapted to the needs not only of disciplines and individuals, but of each individual research project.
Requiring monograph OA if the author does not wish to provide it is not reasonable, but perhaps many or most monograph authors would not mind depositing their texts as Closed Access.
Excellent. This is the optimal OA policy and is completely compatible with the OA policies being adopted worldwide. Note, though, that gold and green are not both “publishing routes.” They are both routes to providing OA, but only gold is a publishing route. The green route is to publish in any journal at all, and to provide OA to that publication by depositing it in an OA repository. So for clearer wording I would suggest: we propose to accept as eligible published material that has been made Open Access via either gold or green routes, recognising that it is not appropriate to express any preference in the context of research assessment. It is already implicit in the proposed HEFCE/REF OA policy, but suggest that it is make explicit that (the final peer-reviewed draft of) articles must be deposited in the author’s institutional repository immediately upon publication, irrespective of whether the author chooses the gold or the green route.we propose to accept material published via either gold or green routes as eligible, recognising that it is not appropriate to express any preference in the context of research assessment
Excellent. I suggest that it be made clear that the re-use might only be after any allowable publisher embargo has elapsed. (I also suggest specifying that the re-use rights may exclude re-publication rights by rival free-riding publishers, otherwise this condition may induce publishers that have no embargo to adopt an embargo.)We propose to treat as ‘open access’ publications those which meet all of the following criteria:
Excellent. This is precisely the condition that is needed to ensure that deposit is immediate and not delayed, and to ensure that the authors’ institutions are recruited to monitor and ensure that deposit is immediate and not delayed. It is especially useful because its effects go far beyond the 4 papers that authors will ultimately submit to REF: The choice of the 4 papers to submit is not usually made until the end of the REF interval, just before the next REF. So, in the meanwhile, this policy makes it necessary that all potentially eligible papers are deposited immediately upon publication, whether or not they are ultimately submitted. This will go a long way toward ensuring that all UK research output is deposited immediately. (Special congratulations to HEFCE/REF for this especially effective clause!)We intend that work which has been originally published in an ineligible form then retrospectively made available in time for the post-2014 REF submission date should not be eligible, as the primary objective of this proposal is to stimulate immediate open-access publication.
Excellent. But one small suggestion: …(whether made open access by the gold or green route)… As earlier, this is to distinguish publishing from access-provision. ‘All submitted outputs covered by our requirement for open access above, and other submitted outputs that are available electronically, shall be available through a repository of the submitting institution.’The role of institutional repositoriesAs part of our commitment to increasing public access, we intend to require that outputs meeting the REF open access requirement (whether published by the gold or green route) shall be accessible through an institutional repository.
This would mean in practice that each submitting institution would maintain a web facility through which all relevant outputs might be identified and accessed (including items available through a link to another website).
Excellent. Exactly the policy needed. And of course just about all UK institutions already have these repositories. What they lacked was a mandate that would fill them, and empower them to ensure that they are filled. This is precisely what the HEFCE/REF OA policy provides – for the UK, and as a model for the rest of the world.
Institutional repositories need to be OAI-compliant and interoperable, so that subject and other repositories can harvest their metadata for central cross-repository search.We welcome further advice on repository use and on techniques for institutional repositories to cross-refer to subject and other repositories.
Institutional repositories should also implement the SWORD protocol for importing/exporting contents to/from institutional and central repositories, such as Arxiv, UKPMC or EuroPMC. Repositories should also configure their data to make them maximally visible, discoverable, harvestable and hence searchable through Google Scholar and other major search engines. (I don’t think the function you mean here is to “cross-refer”: it’s interoperability, harvestability, importability, exportability, and rich metadata. As the repositories begin filling in a serious way, these functionalities will be developed and made even more powerful than is currently envisioned.)
Exactly the right strategy: Separate deposit mandate (immediate, no exceptions) from the date at which the deposit must be made OA (allowable embargo length to be decided discipline by discipline).Embargoes and licences
The crucial thing is to separate the immediate-deposit requirement from the question of embargo length or nature of license.While we expect that sufficient clarity and reassurance on embargoes and licences will be achieved through the Research Council discussions, we welcome responses which address these issues.
Books and data can be handled differently from journal articles, because the case for (and timing of) OA for books and for data is very different. But on no account should any exceptions be allowed for the immediate-deposit requirement for journal articles. Special treatment or exceptions should only pertain to the embargo length (i.e., the date at which the deposit is made OA). And on no account should the immediate-deposit requirement be applied only on a percentage basis. Immediate-deposit should be 100%. Embargo-lengths and rights/licenses can be adapted to disciplines or special individual cases.Exceptions
Again, exemptions and exceptions based on disciplines should only be considered for OA embargo length and for further rights licensing, over and above free online access (and of course for books, data, and other special content other than journal articles). But not for journal article deposit date, which must be immediate.Some have asked that particular disciplinary groups should be exempt from this requirement, but we consider that research in all subjects has equal importance and therefore equally merits receiving the benefits of open-access publication. As with other aspects of the REF we expect the details relating to exemptions to be sympathetic to particular disciplinary issues; but in this instance we consider it will be most appropriate to identify which types of output should be exempt, looking across all disciplines, and we welcome advice on this.
If the HEFCE/REF mandate is adopted soon, there is no reason at all why 1 January 2014 cannot be the start-date for the immediate-deposit requirement (for journal articles).Taking account of publication timescales and that the start of the next REF period is 1st January 2014, it may be that some notice is needed before these requirements apply. We propose to set a date which provides reasonable notice. Outputs published before that date will be automatically exempt from these requirements. We welcome advice on an appropriate notice period, taking account of the publications cycle.
(If a researcher’s institution does not yet have a repository, there is OpenDepot, created precisely for that purpose – and still patiently awaiting mandates in order to put its resources to use!)
No pressing issues with books: No harm would be done if monographs too had to be deposited immediately, but with no requirement to make them open access – neither immediately, nor ever, unless the author wishes.Monograph publications
(As green OA for articles grows, more and more monograph authors will want the benefits of OA too, in terms of increased usage and impact.)
There are special complications with data that do not exist at all for journal articles (or even for books): Researchers are researchers, not mere data-gatherers. They gather data in order to use, data-mine and analyze it. If they are forced to make their data OA for use by one and all immediately, then there is a “Prisoner’s Dilemma”: It’s much better for me if I don’t take the time or trouble (nor spend the time seeking the funding) to gather the data myself: Just let someone else do the work, and then I can help myself to the data immediately, because it is mandated! In other words, embargoes are a much more serious matter in the case of data than in the case of journal articles.Open data
Journal article embargoes are merely ways of allowing publishers to ensure their current revenue streams and modus operandi instead of letting research and researchers derive the full benefits of the web era. (It is not clear that that is good for anyone but the publishers). But with research data not only is the existence and length of an exclusive “1st-expoitation right” for the data-gatherer fair and important, but the length of the fair “embargo period” will vary substantially from project to project, not just from discipline to discipline.
1. Green/Subscription Co-Existence. Subscriptions might co-exist peacefully with Green OA for some time, even after the world has reached 100% Green.
(As long as mandatory Green OA generates 100% Green OA, this is no problem for OA, and it certainly does ease the hardship of the serials crisis, since with 100% Green, subscriptions become a luxury rather than a painful necessity, as they are now.)
2. The Green/Gold Distinction.The definition of Green and Gold OA is that Green OA is provided by the author and Gold OA is provided by the journal. This makes no reference to journal cost-recovery model. Although most of the top Gold OA journals charge APCs and are not subscription based, the majority of Gold OA journals do not charge APCs (as Peter Suber and others frequently point out).
These Gold OA journals may cover their costs in one of several ways:
(i) Gold OA journals may simply be subscription journals that make their online version OAAll of these are Gold OA (or hybrid) journals.
It would perhaps be feasible to estimate the costs of each kind. But I think it would be a big mistake, and a source of great confusion, if one of these kinds (say, ii, or iii) were dubbed "Platinum."
That would either mean that it was both Gold and Platinum, or it would restrict the meaning of Gold to (i) and (iv), which would redefine terms in wide use for almost a decade now in terms of publication economics rather than in terms of the way they provide OA, as they had been.
(And in that case we would need many more "colours," one for each of (i) - (iv) and any other future cost-recovery model someone proposes (advertising?) -- and then perhaps also different colors for Green (institutional repository deposit, central deposit, home-page deposit, immediate deposit, delayed deposit, OAI-compliant, author-deposited, librarian-deposited, provost-deposited, 3rd-party-deposited, crowd-sourced, e.g. via Mendeley, which some have proposed calling this "Titanium OA").
I don't think this particoloured nomenclature would serve any purpose other than confusion. Green and Gold designate the means by which the OA is provided -- by the author or by the journal. The journal's cost-recovery model is another matter, and should not be colour-coded lest it obscure this fundamental distinction. Ditto for the deposit's locus and manner.
3. "Overlay Journals." I have a longstanding problem with the term "overlay journal" that I have rehearsed before. Overlay of what on what?
The notion of an "overlay journal" was first floated by Ginsparg for Arxiv. Arxiv contains authors' unrefereed, unpublished preprints and then their refereed, published postprints. Ginsparg said that eventually journals could turn into "overlays" on the Arxiv deposits, corresponding roughly to the transition from preprint to postprint. The "overlay" would consist of the peer review, revision, and then the journal title as the "tag" certifying the officially accepted version.
But in that sense, all Gold OA journals are "overlay journals" once they have phased out their print edition:
The "overlay" of the peer review service and then the tagging of the officially accepted version could be over a central repository, over distributed institutional repositories, or over the publsher's (OA) website.
Even a non-OA subscription journal would be an "overlay" journal if it had phased out its print edition: The peer review and certification tag would simply be an "overlay" on an online version, regardless of where it was located, and even regardless of whether it was OA or non-OA. (Once we get this far, we see that even for print journals the peer review and certification is just an "overlay").
What I think this reveals is that in the online era (and especially the OA era) the notion of "overlay" is completely redundant: Once we note that the print edition was just a technical detail of the Gutenberg era, we realize that journal publishing consists (and always implicitly consisted) of two components: access-provision and quality-control/certification (peer-review/editing). The latter is always an "overlay" on the former. And once the print edition is gone, it's an overlay on a digital template that can be here, there or everywhere. It is simply a tagged digital file.
Now my own oft-repeated scenario is that universally mandated Green OA self-archiving will eventually lead to journals abandoning their print versions, then abandoning their digital versions and offloading all access-provision and archiving of the digital version onto the global network of Green OA repositories.
This is, in a sense, an "overlay" scenario. But a much simpler and more natural way of looking at it is that from the multiple functions that journals formerly performed, and the multiple co-bundled products and services they formerly sold via subscription -- print edition, online edition, distribution, storage and peer review/editing -- Green OA will induce a down-sizing to the sole remaining essential function for a peer-reviewed journal in the networked online medium: peer review.
Peer review is hence an unbundled service provided by a post-Green Gold OA journal. I don't think it is realistic to try to assess its costs independently, as a form of journal publication "overlaid" on something or other -- independent of what that something or other is, and how it gets there!
So although it is likely that 100% Green will eventually make subscriptions unsustainable and force a transition to Gold, there may be a long co-existence interregnum in between. (And the main unpredicatable factor determining that will be author/reader habits, including how long they will want to keep paying for print, and how much and how long they value the publisher's version-of-record.)
That's why it is far less important how long 100% Green will co-exist with subscriptions than how long it will take to get to 100% Green (and what's the fastest and surest way to get us there?)!
Monday, March 11. 2013
There is a profound latent conflation and incoherence in the question "What is the business model to support open access through institutional repositories?"
It is a conflation between the business model for publishing and the "business" model for institutional repositories (IRs).
The conflation is also evident in any mention (in the context of IR costs) of peer review costs or of reviving university presses linked to repositories.
1. Green OA self-archiving is not a substitute for peer-reviewed subscription journal publishing: it is a supplement to it, for the purpose of providing access to all users, rather than just to subscribers.Please let us not be drawn into the fuzzy notions of certain critics of OA or of Green OA IRs, with hazy, incoherent questions about "business models" that naively conflate IR functions with publishing functions.
IRs are created for many different purposes (some sensible, some not), Green OA being only one of those purposes. (Elaborate local IR search is a foolish function, for example; search will always take place at the multi-IR harvester level. Digital preservation is also not a straightforward function for institutional journal article output, at least not yet: Green OA IRs archive authors' final drafts, for access-supplemental purposes: that is not the draft that requires the preservation: the publisher's version of record is!)
IRs also store all sorts of other institutional objects, data and records. Those functions and their costs have nothing to do with OA and it is absurd for OA policy-makers to ask for a Green IR "business model" that includes those costs and functions.
Yet the IR start-up and maintenance costs (small though they are) are already covered in large part by the institutional sectors that require those non-OA IR functions. (I say "in large part" because without effective Green OA mandates, the Green OA content and function of IRs is minimal.)
Houghton & Swan's (2013) cost/benefit analyses stress that Green OA is a transitional strategy: It supplements subscription publishing and its costs by providing OA.
Houghton & Swan also have cost/benefit estimates for pure Gold OA publication, once subscriptions are gone.
But the question of "IR business model" cuts across these two, incoherently, as if they were both happening at the same time, which makes no sense whatsoever.
I have a more specific hypothesis about how this Green to Gold transition is likely to take place. At the very least, this hypothetical scenario has the virtue of keeping the respective expenses and "business models" in their proper places in the likely temporal sequence, rather than conflating them incoherently, in parallel:
I. Subscriptions prevail, as now.Hence the pre-emptive call for a Green IR "business model" at this time is both unrealistic and incoherent, showing a lack of understanding (or a simplistic misunderstanding) if what is really going on.
"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]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)
Friday, March 8. 2013
RCUK has now made it clear that authors are free to choose Green or Gold.
That means authors no longer have to switch journals or pay for Gold if they do not wish to.
But RCUK has done nothing to implement a compliance monitoring and verification mechanism for Green: Quite the opposite. RCUK has simply turned the entire Green option into an unmonitored, unverified, open-ended delay of 24 months or more. (The only compliance monitoring proposed so far concerns how institutions spend the Gold funds!)
But the proposed new HEFCE/REF mandate has offered the remedy:
To be eligible for REF, all articles need to be deposited in the author's institutional repository immediately upon acceptance for publication (regardless of whether the journal is subscription or Gold, and regardless of whether the deposit is embargoed or unembargoed).
This (by recruiting UK institutions in monitoring and ensuring immediate deposit) will repair the glaring gap in the RCUK mandate.
And with the help of the institutional repositories' faciltated "request copy" Button, immediate-deposit will also tide over researcher access needs during any embargo as delayed deposit could not have done.
The only remaining perverse effect of the RCUK mandate is the obvious incentive it gives to subscription publishers (including those publishers who currently endorse immediate, unembargoed Green OA) to instead offer hybrid Gold and adopt and extend a Green OA embargo beyond the RCUK limit to increase the pressure on UK authors to pick and pay for the hybrid Gold option.
But since the RCUK is not even bothering to monitor author compliance with its increasingly open-ended embargo limits, if the HEFCE/REF immediate-deposit mandate is adopted, this potential perverse effect of the RCUK mandate is somewhat reduced (though still not zero). Yet perhaps the reduced uptake of the UK Gold option, now that it is clarified that authors are free to choose -- along with the HEFCE/REF immediate-deposit requirement irrespective of Gold or embargoes -- will make the damage from the RCUK policy on international Green OA mandates negligible.
Thursday, March 7. 2013
An astrophysicist has made the tongue-in-chief proposal that UK astrophysicists should use their UK Gold OA mandate fund allotment to invest in Arxiv, a central Green OA repository in which they have been depositing, un-mandated, for two decades.
The problem that Open Access (OA) mandates are intended to solve is not in astrophysics: Astrophysicists have been providing OA, without the need of mandates, for almost as long as High Energy Physicists have, by depositing in Arxiv.
But researchers in other disciplines have not followed suit, for over 20 years now.
And they won't, unless OA is mandated.
And the only ones who can monitor and ensure that researchers in all disciplines comply with OA mandates are their institutions.
So astrophysicists would do a much greater service to global OA if they invested in implementing the automatic Arxiv exporter for deposits in their own institutional repositories (IRs).
OA Mandates that would require double-deposit from longstanding Arxiv users -- in both Arxiv and the author's IR -- would be outrageous and out of the question.
But an automatic exporter of IR deposits and their metadata to Arxiv (and any other central repository, such as PubMed Central or EuroCentral) would be a great step toward convergence and interoperability, and would greatly facilitate both the adoption of and compliance with Green OA self-archiving mandates from both funders and institutions.
Of course the extra investment funds are all fantasy, as the UK Gold OA funds are only to be paid to Gold OA journals, not to be spent on whatever the author wishes! But the support of veteran Arxiv users in favour of implementing automatic IR-to-Arxiv export capability would be a great help even without extra money. The functionality is already available, for both EPrints and DSpace IRs:
Create Export Plugins
Mandate deposit in Institutional Repositories and they will solve the access problem: Reply to M Taylor in LSE
All quotes are from:
Actually what Green OA does is provide access to the author’s draft for those who don’t have access to the publisher’s final version. The difference between night and day for those who have no access at all.
No “class” differences. Just a remedy for the difference between the Haves and the Have-Nots.
MT: "pagination will differ — which means you can’t cite page-numbers reliably.”Negligible loss. Cite by section heading and paragraph number. (Page numbers are obsolescent anyway.)
MT: "I have a paper in press now for which a whole additional figure… was added at the proofing stage.”Add the figure to your author’s draft.
(As Green grows, authors will learn to be more attentive about the needs of the Have-Nots among their potential users in a Green world: Scholarly practice will adapt to the medium, as it always does.)
MT: "[Green OA] creates two classes of researchers… those privileged few who have the “proper” papers and an underclass who have only manuscripts…. Gold OA solves this problem… Green doesn’t.”Gold solves this pseudo-problem at a hefty price, not just in terms of having to double-pay Gold fees out of scarce research funds, over and above existing subscription fees (which already pay for Green), but also in terms of restrictions on authors’ free choice of journal: a forced choice based on journal economic model instead of journal quality and track-record.
The RCUK Gold-preference mandate also encourages publishers to offer hybrid Gold OA and to extend embargoes on Green OA beyond RCUK limits (to force RCUK authors to pick and pay for Gold), thereby making it gratuitously harder for Have-Not nations (who cannot afford Gold) to mandate and provide Green. Pre-emptive Gold also locks-in journals’ current revenues and modus operandi — and does so even if journals offer a full subscription rebate on all Gold OA revenue.
Mandatory Gold also engenders author resentment and resistance.
In contrast, mandatory Green (if effectively mandated, with compliance verification and as an eligibility condition for research evaluation, as HEFCE has proposed for REF) provides OA for the Have-Nots (about 60% immediate-OA and about 40% Button-mediated Almost-OA for embargoed deposits) at no extra cost, with no constraint on authors’ free choice of journals.
Again, no “class” differences. Just a remedy for the difference between the Haves and the Have-Nots.
MT: "Green OA is[n't] cheaper than Gold. …the cost to the world of a paywalled paper (aggregated across all subscriptions) is about $5333. …no reason to think that will change under the Green model…”There is indeed reason. It’s through the (hybrid) Gold model -- which RCUK is perversely reinforcing -- that current overall publisher revenues will be locked in (along with double-dipping too, for sure). Even if all Gold payment is given back as a subscription rebate, the total amount paid to publishers remains unchanged.
In contrast, universal Green will force cost-cutting and downsizing by making subscriptions unsustainable:
MT: "By contrast, even the publisher-influenced Finch estimates… almost exactly half of what we pay by the subscription model.”What those rosy estimates (based on a fantasy of universal conversion of publishers to pure Gold, under pressure from the RCUK mandate!) overlook is the double-payment that must continue while UK subscriptions remain the only way for UK institutional users to access subscription content.
MT: "the true cost of Gold OA is much, much less… half of all Gold OA articles are published at no cost to the author and that the average APC of the other half is about one twelfth of the cost for a paywalled article”Yes indeed, but that cost-free Gold half is unfortunately not the mainstream international journals that are really at issue in all this, for UK authors and users. And it’s that half that is spuriously lowering the average price of APCs well below what the UK Must-Have journals are charging, especially for hybrid Gold.
Mike, I think you too will eventually come to realize that the only way to attain what we both want — which, is not just embargoed Gratis Green, but an end of embargoes, as much Libre OA as users need and researchers want to provide, license reform, publishing reform, and Gold OA at a fair, affordable, sustainable price — is by first taking the compromise step of universally mandating immediate deposit of the author’s draft in the author’s institutional repository, and then letting Nature take its course.
The only thing standing between us and what we all want is keystrokes. Until we mandate those keystrokes, there will be little OA of any sort: Gratis or Libre, Green or Gold, immediate or embargoed.
MT: "there is nothing intrinsic to Green OA that means embargoes must be in place. It’s perfectly possible, and manifestly desirable, that no-embargo Green-OA mandates should be enacted, requiring that authors’ final manuscripts become available immediately on publication. But for whatever historical reasons (and I admit I find this baffling) there are few or no Green-OA mandates that do this. Even the best of them seem to allow a six-month delay; twelve months is not uncommon”Let me unbaffle you then, Mike:
It’s pushback from publishers, who then intimidate authors as well as institutional lawyers — while also lobbying and intimidating politicians. The result is that no one dares mandate un-embargoed Gratis Green (let alone unembargoed Libre Green), and most authors wouldn’t dare provide it even if it were mandated.
(And note that the Harvard-style "rights-retention" mandates not only allow author opt-outs [waivers], which means they are not really mandates at all, but -- as we will shortly be reporting -- they also lead (so far) to exceedingly low deposit rates -- 4% at Harvard and 28.5% at MIT, which is still below the global spontaneous un-mandated baseline self-archiving rate of about 30%, and, paradoxically, amounts to only half of both MIT's and Harvard's own remarkably high self-archiving rate of over 60%: That means only half of the papers that MIT authors self-archive free for all on the Web are deposited in MIT's IR and only 1/15th in the case of Harvard!)
Solution: mandate immediate deposit (no exceptions, no opt-outs, no waivers) and allow (minimal) embargoes on the allowable length of the embargo on access to the deposit. (The "ID/OA mandate.")
That will ensure that the Have-Nots at least gain 60% immediate OA + 40% Almost-OA (Button-mediated).
And then let Nature take its course. Once the keystrokes are being universally done, all you seek, Mike, will not be far behind.
But it will take much longer if we delay (embargo!) the universal adoption of the ID/OA compromise mandate by over-reaching instead for what is not within reach, rather than first grasping what is already fully within reach.
That is called letting the “best” get in the way of the better. And in advocating that, you are playing into the hands of the publisher lobby, which is also using embargoes (of their own making) along with license restrictions as an excuse for delaying the inevitable transition to OA as long as possible, and making sure it only happens on their terms, preserving their current revenue streams and modus operandi.
MT: "Similarly, there is no intrinsic reason why Green OA should mean non-open licences and Gold OA should mean truly open (BOAI-compliant) open access. And yet history has brought us to a point where is often how things are.”Once again: Grasp first what is within immediate reach and the rest will come. Join Finch instead, in deprecating Green, and you will get next to nothing.
MT: "Many institutions don’t even have an IR; or if they do it doesn’t work.”Most research-active institutions in the UK (and Europe, and the US and Canada and Australia) already have an IR, but it doesn’t “work” without an (effective) Green OA mandate from funders and institutions.
Any institution is a just piece of free software, some space on a server and some sysad start-up time away from having an IR.
MT: "Many scholars aren’t associated with an institution and so don’t know where they should deposit their manuscripts.”Few researchers are unaffiliated, but for them there is, for example, OpenDepot -- which is still just as empty as IRs — for want of mandates...
MT: "The use of IRs involves an institution-by-institution fragmentation, with different user interfaces, policies, etc.”Most IRs are highly interoperable. Mandate Green OA and they will be even more so.
(And distributed local deposit with central harvesting is not “fragmentation”: it’s the way of the Web! No one deposits directly in Google. The rest is down to metadata, interoperablity, and harvesting. But there’s no incentive to enrich those while the OA content itself is still so impoverished — for lack of mandates.)
MT: "For whatever reasons, many scholars do not bother to deposit their manuscripts in institution repositories.”You have just casually mentioned OA’s #1 problem for the past 20 years!
But what you forget to say is that even fewer scholars bother to publish in a Gold OA journal.
(With Green deposit [ID/OA], the only deterrent is keystrokes; but with Gold OA there’s price and journal-choice restrictions as further deterrents.)
The remedy is of course mandates. But mandates have to be adopted, and complied with. And that’s why they have to have all the parameters you are lamenting: Gratis, Green, author draft, embargoed. That’s the immediately reachable path of least resistance for mandate adoption and compliance.
But you have set aside thinking of what you’d ideally like to have right away, and think practically about how to get it, not spurning approximations and compromises only to end up with next to nothing.
MT: "Even when mandates are in place, compliance is often miserable, to the point where Peter Suber considers the 80% NIH compliance rate as “respectable”. It really isn’t. 100% is acceptable; 99% is respectable.”There it is again: Reality for the last 20 years has been at 10-40% OA, and you are dismissing as “miserable” a tried and proven means of generating at least 80%!
I don’t wish my 20 miserable years trying to reach OA on anyone, but maybe a dose would not do you any harm, Mike, to help you appreciate the difference between principled armchair wish-lists and practical delivery.
We don’t have another decade to waste on ineffectual over-reaching. (And that’s what’s been holding OA up for the past two decades too.)
(Your questions here are almost all a litany of repetition of the 38+ causes of Zeno’s Paralysis in this 15-year-old list. I could almost answer them by number!)
MT: "Many IRs have abject search facilities, often for example lacking the ability to restrict searches to papers that are actually available.”No one (except maybe institutional administrators and window-shopping prospective-students or staff) searches at the IR level!
IR metadata (and/or full-texts) are harvested (or imported/exported) at the central harvester/search-engine level (Scirus, BASE, MS Academic Search, Google Scholar) and that’s the level at which they are searched.
The central harvester-level search capabilities can be enriched greatly, and they will be, but there’s absolutely no point doing that now, with the sparse OA content that there is in IRs (or in any repository) today. Without mandates to provide that content, nuclear-powered search (and text-mining) capabilities would be spinning wheels.
(And in case you imagine that the solution is direct deposit in institution-external repositories: far from it. That just makes the problem of mandating OA worse, forcing authors to deposit willy-nilly in institution-external repositories — Arxiv, PMC, EuroPMC, etc. — and prevents institutions from being able to monitor compliance with deposit mandates, whether institutional or funder mandates.)
MT: "Many IRs impose unnecessary restrictions on the use of the materials they contain: for example, Bath’s repo prohibits further redistribution.”Most IRs are sensible (though they all make craven — and sometimes excess — efforts to comply with publisher copyright conditions and embargoes).
Once Green OA mandates become sufficiently widespread, IRs will get their acts together. For now, the essential thing is to get papers deposited. Once that is being done, globally, everything else we seek will come, and probably surprisingly quickly.
But not if we continue to carp at minor details like Bath’s overzealousness, as if they were symptoms of ineffectiveness of the Green mandate strategy. They are not. They are simply symptoms of ineffective institutional policy, easily fixed under pressure from other IRs that are doing it right.
MT: "There is no central point for searching all IRs (at least not one that is half-decent; I know about OAIster).”As above: IR metadata (and/or full-texts) are harvested (or imported/exported) at the central harvester/search-engine level (Scirus, BASE, MS Academic Search, Google Scholar) and that’s the level at which they are searched.
The central harvester-level search capabilities can be enriched greatly, and they will be, but there’s absolutely no point doing that now, with the sparse OA content that there is in IRs (or in any repository) today.
Without effective mandates to fill the IRs, central search is not much more “decent” than IR-level search: the OA content is simply far too sparse.
MT: "The quality of metadata within most IRs [is] variable at best”Without mandates to provide the content (and motivate the metadata enrichment) rich metadata on impoverished content are no help.
MT: "Use of metadata across IRs is inconsistent hence many of the problems that render OAIster near-useless.”Scirus, BASE, MS Academic Search, Google Scholar and OAIster are all equally useless without the full-text content. The motivation to enrich and conform the IR metadata will grow with the content, not just as an end in itself.
MT: "Could these issues be addressed? Yes, probably; but ten years have unfortunately not done much to resolve them, so I don’t feel all that confident that the next ten will.”There is in reality only one issue: Getting the keystrokes to be mandated (and hence done). That’s what’s held us up for 20 years, while we ran off in every direction except the one that would get us to our goal.
It is time to pool efforts toward getting institutions and funders worldwide to adopt the Green OA mandates that will get us there. For that we have to stop focussing on fixing frills that are useless until and unless we first get the content deposited, and stop insisting on organic haute cuisine before we have even taken care of the famine of the Have-Nots.
“I have a feeling that when Posterity looks back at the last decade of the 2nd A.D. millennium of scholarly and scientific research on our planet, it may chuckle at us…. [T[here is[n't] any doubt in anyone’s mind as to what the optimal and inevitable outcome of all this will be: The Give-Away literature will be free at last online, in one global, interlinked virtual library, and its QC/C expenses will be paid for up-front, out of the S/L/P savings. The only question is: When? This piece is written in the hope of wiping the potential smirk off Posterity’s face by persuading the academic cavalry, now that they have been led to the waters of self-archiving, that they should just go ahead and drink!“
Wednesday, March 6. 2013
The revised RCUK OA mandate has some positive (+) and negative (-) points:
(+1) It is now clear that the RCUK author is free to choose either Green or Gold (despite RCUK's preference for Gold).HEFCE/REF is urged to adopt its proposed mandate(-2) No Green compliance-monitoring nor consequences for non-compliance (only Gold-uptake-monitoring).(+6) The proposed HEFCE/REF mandate making immediate-deposit -- in the author's institutional repository immediately upon acceptance by the journal -- a requirement for eligibility for REF will, if adopted, help remedy the RCUK mandate's shortcomings on compliance monitoring and verification.
RCUK is urged to further revise its mandate to make it compatible with the proposed HEFCE/REF mandate:
Universities and research institutions as well as other research funders are also urged to adopt or modify OA mandates to require verifiable immediate-deposit of all journal article output, in all disciplines.require immediate-deposit
Once this convergent, complementary, and mutually reinforcing funder/institutional Green OA mandate model is globally adopted, universal OA will soon follow.
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.
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