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).
Monday, September 16. 2013
Rick Anderson (University of Utah Librarian) has posted the following on multiple lists:
Rick Anderson: if I know that a publisher allows green deposit of all articles without embargo, then the likelihood that we'll maintain a paid subscription drops dramaticallyRick Anderson has made a public announcement that he may think serves the interests of University of Utah's Library and its users:
It does not, because it is both arbitrary and absurd to cancel a journal because it is has a Green policy (i.e., no embargo) in Green OA rather than because its contents are otherwise accessible or their users no longer need it. About 60% of subscription journals are Green and there are no data whatsoever to show that the percentage of the contents of Green journals made OA by their authors is higher than the percentage for non-Green journals -- and, more important, the percentage of articles that are made OA today from either Green or non-Green journals is still low, and the subset is an arbitrary and anarchic sample, by article and by author, not journal-specific.
But more important than any of that is the gross disservice that gratuitous public librarian announcements like this do to the OA movement: We have been objecting vehemently to the perverse incentive Finch/RCUK have given publishers to adopt or lengthen Green OA embargoes and offer hybrid Gold in order to get the money the UK has foolishly elected to throw at Fool's Gold unilaterally, and preferentially.
Now is it going to be the library community putting publishers on public notice that unless they adopt or lengthen Green OA embargoes, libraries plan to cancel their journals?
With friends like these, the OA movement hardly needs enemies!
May I suggest, though, that such postings should not go to the GOAL, BOAI or SPARC lists? Please keep such brilliant ideas to the library lists.
And please don't reply that "it's just one factor in our cancelation equation." There's no need for the OA community to hear about librarians' struggles with their serials budgets when it's at the expense of OA.
PS This series of postings was apparently prompted by a query from RA seeking a list of Green OA publishers -- publishers that do not embargo OA (so such publishers can be considered for cancellation by U. Utah Libraries). The database mentioned is SHERPA/Romeo. Romeo was funded and created to help authors provide OA and to help their librarians help them provide OA by letting them know the rights policies of publishers regarding OA. I have long inveighed against the excess weight and exposure that SHERPA/Romeo has solemnly conferred on arbitrary details and quirks of journal policy having nothing to do with helping authors or librarians provide OA, and sometimes even at odds with it (such as whether or not the publisher considers an institutional repository to be an author website, whether the journal endorses OA just for the refereed draft ["blue"] or for both the refereed draft and the unrefereed draft ["green"], and whether the right to provide OA is retained by the author for voluntary OA but not for mandatory OA). It would be ironic indeed if the use that (some) librarians now made of SHERPA/Romeo were not to help them help authors provide OA for those journals that don't embargo OA, but to help librarians cancel journals that don't embargo OA!
Saturday, May 18. 2013
CC-BY or CC-NC?
If the topic is Open Access to refereed research journal articles, this is the wrong question to ask.
The right license, providing the right re-use rights, will depend on the field of research, the specific research findings, and the researchers.*
But we are nowhere near ready to consider such questions yet, for the simple reason that there is no basic Open Access yet.
We cannot remind ourselves often enough that Open Access is -- first and foremost -- about access: What made Open Access possible was the advent of the online medium (the Internet and Web): It made it possible to make refereed research journal articles accessible to all users, not just to those whose institutions could afford subscription access.
That possibility has been there for at least a quarter century now, and yet three quarters of research published yearly today is still accessible only to users whose institutions can afford subscription access.
So why are we talking about CC-BY vs. CC-NC, while still not having provided basic Open Access?
Institutions and funders should first and foremost mandate making refereed research journal articles accessible to all users, not just those whose institutions can afford subscription access.
The ideal mandate would require the author's refereed final draft to be deposited in an OA repository immediately upon acceptance for publication, and also made OA immediately upon deposit.
A compromise that is much easier for everyone to adopt as a first step is to require the author's refereed final draft to be deposited in an OA repository immediately upon acceptance for publication, and strongly encourage (but not require) that it be made OA immediately upon deposit (and to put a cap on how long it is allowed to embargo OA).
Once immediate deposit has become universal, the first and biggest hurdle of OA -- still not surmounted after 25 years now -- will at last be surmounted.
And once that has at last happened, all the rest will follow:
-- the death of embargoes,Instead focusing prematurely and needlessly on CC-BY vs CC-NC today is putting the cart before the horse -- and getting us next to nowhere.
*In general, scientists prefer not to have their work altered without their permission. So the CC license that virtually all researchers would agree to is CC-ND: no derivatives (meaning the text cannot be altered). For allowing re-mix, it depends on the field and the researcher. And of course machine data-mineability for research as well as for search and retrieval are always desirable and beneficial.
But anothor contingency to bear in mind in this transitional period is this: What we need most is immediate, unembargoed OA. If we insist on a CC-BY license, publishers will insist on an OA embargo; I think many will insist even with CC-NC. The former would allow immediate free riding by rival publishers. The latter would still allow competing republication. So both encourage publishers to adopt embargoes.
In contrast, immediate-deposit Green works with or without publisher embargoes -- and once it becomes global, it will undermine all OA embargoes, thereby opening the door to subscription cancellations, Gold OA and as much CC as we want.
First things first. Mandate immediate-deposit. But don't turn it into a restriction on authors' journal choice by insisting on CC-X prematurely (and needlessly).
If it is not part of the mandate, of course, and a field has a preference for one of the CC licenses where posssible, its use can be recommended.
Wednesday, January 30. 2013
In viewing their testimony before the House of Lords Select Committee on UK Open Access Policy, one is rather astonished to see just how misinformed are the three witnesses -- Professor Rick Rylance, Chair of RCUK; Professor Douglas Kell, RCUK Information Champion; David Sweeney, Director (Research, Innovation and Skills), Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) -- on a number of key points.
Professor Kell's impression seems to be along the lines that "all the worldwide OA policies are like ours [the UK's] regarding Gold, and the rest of the world is taking its lead from us."
Unfortunately this is no longer the case at all.
And although the three witnesses extol the economist John Houghton's work as authoritative, they rather startlingly misunderstand his findings:
The witnesses cite Houghton's work as (1) evidence that Green OA is more expensive than Gold and as (2) support for the UK's new policy of paying for Gold OA in preference to providing Green OA.
Houghton's findings support neither of these conclusions, as stated rather explicitly and unambiguously in Houghton & Swan's most recent publication:
"The economic modelling work we have carried out over the past few years has been referred to and cited a number of times in the discussions of the Finch Report and subsequent policy developments in the UK. We are concerned that there may be some misinterpretation of this work... [our] main findings are that disseminating research results via OA would be more cost-effective than subscription publishing. If OA were adopted worldwide, the net benefits of Gold OA would exceed those of Green OA. However, we are not yet anywhere near having reached 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 unilaterally adopting 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."What Houghton and coworkers said and meant about Green as the transitional policy concerned an eventual transition from (1) today's paid subscription access to (2) paid subscription access + Green OA to (3) post-Green Gold (with subscriptions no longer being paid).
Houghton was not at all referring to or supporting a transition from (I) the current RCUK policy in which Green is "allowed" (though grudgingly and non-preferentially) to (II) an RCUK policy where only Gold is allowed (but subscriptions still need to be paid)!
Quite the contrary. It is the added cost of subscriptions that makes pre-Green Gold so gratuitously expensive.
In the background, it's clear exactly what subscription publishers are attempting to persuade the UK to do: Publishers know, better than anyone, now, that OA is absolutely inevitable. Hence they are quite aware that their only option is to try to delay the inevitable for as long as possible, on the pretext that it would destroy their business and hurt the UK economy to rush into OA without subsidizing subscription publishers by paying extra for Gold. And this self-interested alarmism is succeeding -- in the UK.
Meanwhile, the policy-makers in the UK remain under the misapprehension that they are still the leaders, setting the direction and pace for worldwide OA -- whereas in reality they are being rather successfully taken in by the publishing lobby (both subscription and Gold), while the rest of the world has stopped following the UK on OA since its gratuitous and unaffordable U-turn from mandating already-paid Green OA self-archiving to double-paying for Gold OA.
But it's not just the publishing lobby that's behind the U-turn from Green OA: There are two other notable sources of misdirection:
(1) The Wellcome Trust, a private biomedical research-funding charity that believes it has understood it all with its slogan "Publishing is just another research cost, and a small one, 1.5%, so we simply have to be prepared to pay it, and in exchange we will have OA":
What Wellcome does not reckon is that, unlike Wellcome, the UK government is not a private charity, with only two decisions to make: "What research shall I fund, and to whom shall I pay the 1.5% of it which is publication fees?"
The UK, unlike Wellcome, also has to pay for university journal subscriptions, university infrastructure, and a lot else. And the UK is already paying for 100% of all that today -- which means 100% of UK publication costs. Any money to pay for Gold OA is over and above that.
Nor does Wellcome -- a private funder who can dictate whatever it likes as a condition for receiving its research grants -- seem to appreciate that the UK and RCUK are not in the same position as Wellcome: They cannot dictate UK researchers' journal choice, nor can they tell UK researchers to spend money on Gold other than whatever money they give them.
Nor does Wellcome give a second thought to the fact that its ineffective OA mandate owes what little success it has had in nearly 10 years to publishers being paid to provide OA, not to fundees being mandated to do it.
Yet in almost every respect, the new RCUK policy is now simply a clone of the old Wellcome policy.
(2) The minority of fields and individuals that strongly advocate CC-BY licenses for all refereed research today have managed to give the impression that it is not free online access to refereed research that matters most, but the kinds of re-mix, text-mining, re-use, and re-publication that they need in their own small minority of fields.
To repeat, it is incontrovertibly true and highly relevant: CC-BY is only needed in a minority of fields -- and in no field is CC-BY needed more, or more urgently, than free online access is needed in all fields.
Yet here too, it is this CC-BY minority that has managed to persuade Finch/RCUK (and themselves) that CC-BY is to the advantage of -- indeed urgently needed by -- all research and researchers, in all fields, as well as UK industry. Hence that it is preferable to use 1.5% of UK's dwindling research funds to pay publishers still more for Gold CC-BY to UK research output (and pressure authors to choose journals that offer it) rather than just to mandate cost-free Green (and let authors choose journals on the basis of their quality standards and track-records, as before, rather on the basis of their licenses and cost-recovery models).
The obvious Achilles Heel in all this is unilaterality, as Houghton & Swan point out, clearly.
None of the benefits on which the UK OA policy is predicated will materialize if the UK does what it proposes to do unilaterally:
The Finch/RCUK policy will just purchase Gold CC-BY to the UK's own 6% of worldwide research output by double-paying publishers (subscriptions + Gold OA fees).
In addition, the UK must continue paying the subscriptions to access the rest of the world's 94%, while at the same time UK OA policy -- by incentivizing publishers to offer hybrid Gold and increase their Green embargo lengths beyond RCUK's allowable 6-12 in order to collect the UK Gold CC-BY bonus revenue -- makes it needlessly harder for the rest of the world to mandate Green OA .
As long as the UK keeps imagining that it's still leading on OA, and that the rest of the world will follow suit -- funding and preferring Gold OA -- the UK will remain confident in the illusion that what it is doing makes sense and things must get better.
But the reality will begin to catch up when the UK realizes that it is doing what it is doing unilaterally: It has chosen the losing strategy in a global Prisoner's Dilemma.
Let us hope that UK policy-makers can still be made to see the light by inquiries like the Lords' and BIS's, and will then promptly do the simple policy tweaks that it would take to put the UK back in the lead, and in the right.
(Some of the Lords in the above video seem to have been a good deal more sensible and better informed than the three witnesses were!)
Harnad, S (2012) United Kingdom's Open Access Policy Urgently Needs a Tweak. D-Lib Magazine Volume 18, Number 9/10 September/October 2012
Saturday, November 10. 2012
Comment on: UK research funders announce grants for open-access publishing (Richard Van Noorden, Nature)First, a correction: Gold vs. Green does not mean immediate Gold OA from the publisher vs. delayed Green OA from the author’s institutional repository. Most Green OA (60%) is immediate OA too. And for the 40% that is embargoed by publishers, repositories have the “Almost OA” Button.
Second, that 60% vs 40% refers to Green OA, whose worldwide UNmandated annual average is about 25% today. So that’s 60%/40% of 25% or about 16% immediate Green OA and 8% Almost-OA globally today.
Now to RCUK: As Richard notes, even the old, weak RCUK mandate, with no compliance assurance mechanism, did better than the worldwide average.
Evidence has since shown that strong mandates provide much higher Green OA rates (over 70% within two years).
Hence the RCUK, in wasting scarce research money on Gold instead of strengthening its compliance assurance mechanism for cost-free Green OA, would be designing a self-fulfilling prophecy. This would fail, because most UK researchers would rightly refuse to comply with Gold and the rest of the world (funders as well as universities) is meanwhile mandating Green.
A European Green OA Mandate may help restore RCUK to its senses and put it back on a realistic path to 100% OA, focused on research interests instead of publishing interests.
Wednesday, October 10. 2012
This is a response to a proposal (by some individuals in the researcher community) to raise the goalposts of Green OA self-archiving and Green OA mandates from where they are now (free online access) to CC-BY (free online access plus unlimited re-use and re-publication rights):
1. For the reasons I will try to describe here, raising the goal-posts for Green OA self-archiving and Green OA mandates to CC-BY (free online access PLUS unlimited re-use and re-publication rights) would be very deleterious to Green OA growth, Green OA mandate growth, and hence global OA growth (and would thereby provide yet another triumph for the publisher lobby and double-paid hybrid-Gold CC-BY).In short, the pre-emptive insistence upon CC-BY OA, if recklessly and irrationally heeded, would bring the (already slow) progress toward OA, and the promise of progress, to a grinding halt.
Finch/RCUK's bias toward paid Gold over cost-free Green was clearly a result of self-interested publisher lobbying. But if it were compounded by a premature and counterproductive insistence on CC-BY for all by a small segment of the researcher community, then the prospects of OA (both Gratis and CC-BY), so fertile if we at last take the realistic, pragmatic course of mandating Gratis Green OA globally first, would become as fallow as they have been for the past two decades, for decades to come.
Some quote/comments follow below:
Jan Velterop: We've always heard, from Stevan Harnad, that the author was the one who intrinsically had copyright on the manuscript version, so could deposit it, as an open access article, in an open repository irrespective of the publisher's views.I said -- because it's true, and two decades' objective evidence shows it -- that authors can deposit the refereed, final draft with no realistic threat of copyright action from the publisher.
JV: If that is correct, then the author could also attach a CC-BY licence to the manuscript version.Nothing of the sort. Author self-archiving to provide free online access (Gratis Green OA) is one thing -- claiming and dispensing re-use and republication rights (CC-BY) is quite another.
JV: If it is incorrect, the author can't deposit the manuscript with open access without the explicit permission of the publisher of his final, published version, and the argument advanced for more than a decade by Stevan Harnad is invalid.Incorrect. Authors can make their refereed final drafts free for all online without the prospect of legal action from the publisher, but not with a CC-BY license to re-use and re-publish.
Moreover, for authors who elect to comply with publisher embargoes on Green Gratis OA, there is the option of depositing in Closed Access and relying on the Almost-OA Button to provide eprint-requesters with individual eprints during the embargo. This likewise does not come with CC-BY rights.
JV: Which is it? I think Stevan was right, and a manuscript can be deposited with open access whether or not the publisher likes it. Whence his U-turn, I don't know.No U-turn whatsoever. Just never the slightest implication from me that anything more than free online access was intended.
JV: But if he was right at first, and I believe that's the case, that also means that it can be covered by a CC-BY licence. Repositories can't attach the licence, but 'gold' OA publishers can't either. It's always the author, as copyright holder by default. All repositories and OA publishers can do is require it as a condition of acceptance (to be included in the repository or to be published). What the publisher can do if he doesn't like the author making available the manuscript with open access, is apply the Ingelfinger rule or simply refuse to publish the article.The above is extremely unrealistic and counterproductive policy advice to institutions and funders.
If an OA mandate is gratuitously upgraded to CC-BY it just means that most authors will be unable to get their papers published in their journal of choice if they comply with the mandate. So authors will not comply with the mandate, and the mandate will fail.
Peter Murray-Rust: If we can establish the idea of Green-CC-BY as the norm for deposition in repositories then I would embrace it enthusiastically. I can see no downside other than that some publishers will fight it. But they fight anywayThe downside is that authors won't fight, and hence OA itself will lose the global Gratis Green OA that is fully within its reach, and stay in the non-OA limbo (neither Gratis nor CC-BY, neither Green nor Gold) in which most research still is today -- and has been for two decades.
And the irony is that -- speaking practically rather than ideologically -- the fastest and surest prospect for both CC-BY and Gold is to first quickly reach global Gratis Green OA. Needlessly over-reaching can undermine all of OA's objectives.
PMR: It would resolve all the apparent problems of the Finch reoprt etc. It is only because Green licences are undefined that we have this problem at all.On the contrary: raising the Gratis Green 6-12 goalposts to immediate Green CC-BY would make the Finch/RCUK a pure hybrid-Gold mandate and nothing else. And its failure would be a resounding one.
PMR: And if we all agreed it could be launched for Open Access WeekThat would certainly be a prominent historic epitaph for OA. I hope, on the contrary, that pragmatic voices will be raised during OA week, so that we can get on with reaching for the reachable instead of gratuitously raising the goalposts to unrealistic heights.
Monday, July 30. 2012
Excerpts from ongoing discussion:
OA advocate Stevan Harnad withdraws support for RCUK policy - if true, this looks disastrous for UK :Open and Shut?: OA advocate Stevan Harnad withdraws support for RCUK policy
Disagree strongly with Stevan here. His main objection is that this will annoy researchers but to be honest the Wellcome has been taking this line for some years with no signs of revolt. Yes the question of pricing is core but what the RCUK policy does is push those purchasing decisions exactly where they should be, at the institutional/researcher level.
+Cameron Neylon From reading the interview it seems to me that +Stevan Harnad's main objection is not that it will annoy researchers but that it creates a loophole for publishers to force authors to pay atronomical prices for Hybrid Gold OA instead of using Green OA. This does sound rather serious to me.
It's not a mistake its quite deliberate. RCUK position as I understand it is that they want to ensure there is a market - if authors don't like the price that journals are charging they should go elsewhere. I would prefer a green option in these cases myself but they're prepared to take the flack. What they can't do is set prices...as a QUANGO this would be illegal - what they can do is set up a system where there is price sensitivity and that's what they've done.
But isn't that was Finch is aiming for as well?
Finch doesn't really aim for anything - it suggests what the priorities are, but it's main weakness in my view was precisely in not providing a mechanism that constrains prices. Several routes to this: one is ensure a green option is allowed and viable (one sentence to this effect in Finch would have changed the whole tone). The second is to force researchers to be price sensitive - which seems to be the RCUK route. A third is for the funder to take on the price negotiations - this is the Wellcome approach.
It seems that this is really the central question: How important will price be for authors? Will they favor a less well-known journal with similar quality but lower price, or will they stick with the prestigious journals, no matter the price?
I also wonder what +Peter Suber has to say about this?
Hi +Thomas Pfeiffer: In general I'm with Stevan on this. The RCUK policy and the Finch recommendations fail to take good advantage of green OA. Like Stevan, I initially overestimated the role of green in the RCUK policy, but in conversation with the RCUK have come to a better understanding. In various blog posts since the two documents were released, I've criticized the under-reliance on green. I'm doing so again, more formally, in a forthcoming editorial in a major journal. I'm also writing up my views at greater length for the September issue of my newsletter (SPARC Open Access Newsletter).
Thank you for stating your opinion here, +Peter Suber. I know that you have been promoting Green OA and I've read about your opinion on the Finch report and your initial very positive reaction to the RCUK policy. Seems like I missed your posts about your opinion on RCUK after a re-examining it, so it was interesting to know what you think about it by now.
It's probably worth saying that I broadly agree with +Peter Suber 's position (and even to an extent Stevan's) but I disagree with Stevan's tactics. I don't think that the RCUK position is so bad - but its a question of degree. It also has to be understood in the context of the philosophical background to the policies. Stevan has generally argued from a public good perspective - more research available for researchers to read is a public good - rather than a technological or industrial policy perspective.
I concur. Until now I hadn't realized that the differences between preferring Gold or Green OA depended on the philosophical stance, but the way Cameron explains it, it absolutely makes sense. However I can't really say which position seems more valid to me, they both have good reasons speaking for them.
Yeh, the trouble I have with the whole "its free!" argument is that of course, it isn't. That seems to be getting missed in the discussion somewhere. We are paying for this - and we should be able to do this by at worse zero-sum with some transitional costs. Frustrating that people still believe the current system is "free".
reply to +Cameron Neyon1. PRIORITIES
+Cameron Neylon wrote: "Stevan has generally argued from a public good perspective - more research available for researchers to read is a public good - rather than a technological or industrial policy perspective. RCUK and Finch are coming from a much more innovation and industry focussed perspective."I am not sure what industry Cameron is referring to here. Certainly, if Stevan is correct then the publishing industry has a great deal to gain from RCUK and Finch. However, I suspect he means that CC-BY can turn research papers into raw material that new businesses can use (by, for instance, mining their content). That's fine, but at what price?
DECLARATION OF INTERESTS@Thomas Pfeiffer wrote: "Until now I hadn't realized that the differences between preferring Gold or Green OA depended on the philosophical stance"Thomas, I don't think the difference is a matter of philosophical stance. I think it depends on whose and what interests are motivating one's position on OA, Green OA and Gold OA.
Thank you, +Stevan Harnad, for your detailed reply. Especially the reasoning about priorities and using Green OA for the transition from subscription to Gold OA makes sense to me.
I definitely agree with Cameron that it's better to talk with people instead of for people. Funders, OA publishers and researchers ultimately have the same goal, they just prefer different routes to it. That should not keep them from working together to reach the goal, though.
Friday, April 27. 2012
The claim is often made that researchers (peers) have as much access to peer-reviewed research publications as they need -- that if there is any need for further access at all, it is not the peers who need it, but the general public.
1. Functionally, it doesn't matter whether open access (OA) is provided for peers or for public, because OA means that everyone gets access.Stevan Harnad
Enabling Open Scholarship
The list of recommendations I made was strategic. The objective was to maximize OA deposits and maximize OA deposit mandates.
The issue is not about how many members of the general public might wish to read how many peer-reviewed journal articles.
The issue is strategic: What provides a viable, credible, persuasive reason for researchers to provide OA and for institutions and funders to mandate providing OA in all fields of research, funded and unfunded, in all disciplines.
My point was that providing access for the the general public is a viable, credible, persuasive reason for providing and mandating OA in some fields (notably health- related research, but there may be other fields as well) -- but it is not a viable, credible, persuasive reason for providing OA in all fields, nor for all research.
It is not difficult to find anecdotal evidence of nonspecialist interest in specialized research; one's own interests often go beyond one's own area of expertise.
But that is user-based reasoning, whereas providing OA and mandating OA require reasons that are viable, credible and persuasive to providers of research -- and not some providers, sometimes, but all providers, for all research.
The only reason for providing OA to research that is valid, credible and persuasive for all research and researchers is in order to ensure that it is accessible to all of its intended users -- primarily peers -- and not just to those whose institutions can afford to subscribe to the journal in which it was published.
The issue is strategic. It is a great mistake to construe giving priority to reasons for providing peer access over reasons for providing public access as somehow implying that public access should be denied: Public access automatically comes with the territory with OA. So public access denial is not the issue.
The strategic issue is whether researchers (and their institutions and funders) are more likely to be induced to provide and mandate OA by the argument that the public wants and needs access or by the argument that peers want and need access.
Peer access provides research progress and impact. It is an appeal to researchers' self-interest to stress the beneficial effects of OA on the uptake and impact of their research.
Most researchers of course also have a secret yearning that their research should appeal not only to their peers, but to the general public. But they also know that that is probably just wishful thinking in most cases. And in any case, public access does not have the direct affect on their careers, funding, and research progress that peer access has.
So it is not that the enhancement of public access should not be listed among the reasons for providing OA. It is just that it should not be promoted as the first, foremost, or universal reason for providing OA, because it is not: for many or most researchers, that argument simply will not work.
Ditto for the argument that researchers need to provide OA because journal subscriptions cost too much. The eventual solution to the journal affordability crisis will probably also come from providing and mandating OA. But, like public access, journal affordability is not a sufficiently compelling or universal rationale for providing OA.
The public access rationale for providing OA appeals to politicians and voters. Good. Use it in order to help get OA mandate legistlation adopted by research funders. But the rationale is much less convincing to researchers (peers) themselves, and their institutions.
The journal affordability rationale for providing OA appeals to librarians and institutions, but it is much less convincing to researchers (peers).
In contrast, providing OA in order to maximize research progress and impact, by maximizing researcher (peer) uptake, usage, applications and citations -- if backed up by evidence -- is the way to convince all researchers, funded and unfunded, in all disciplines, that it is in their own best interests to provide OA to their research.
Saturday, October 29. 2011
In "Open Access Doubts" Eric F. Van de Velde lists some doubts about open access (OA).
There are very simple answers to each of Eric's doubts. The doubts arise mostly from a library-based rather than a research-based perception of the OA problem and its solution.
There is only one doubt that is most definitely justified, though Eric has not expressed it: Researchers themselves -- even though they and their research are the primary losers because of access-denial, and the primary beneficiaries of providing OA -- are not providing OA in sufficient numbers until and unless it is mandated by their institutions and funders.
That does raise some doubts, but not about the feasibility or benefits of OA -- only about the alertness of researchers to their own needs and the way to meet them.
EV:Affordable is not better than free because even if journal subscriptions were sold at cost, with no profit margin at all, not all or even most institutions could afford to subscribe to all or even most peer-reviewed journals.
The purpose of OA is to provide online access to all would-be users, not just to those whose institutions can afford a subscription to the journal in which it was published.
Eric is conflating the journal affordability and the research accessibility problems.
EV:No, researchers are not being denied access to peer-reviewed research because of "inexpertly formatted content and bad, incomplete, and non-public (!) metadata" but because of content to which (a) their institution cannot afford access and (b) that has not been made OA at all.
It is librarians who worry about formatting and metadata! Researchers worry about inaccessible content.
EV:Cost is not the OA problem: Access-denial is. Lowering cost is a library's goal. Gaining access is the user's need. And even lowering prices to cost-without-any-profit does not remedy access-denial
EV:No, the root of the problem is access-denial and the solution is access-provision. And the way to provide OA is for authors to self-archive their refereed final drafts ("green OA"). And the way to ensure that authors self-archive is to mandate it.
EV:Instead of mandating green OA (cost-free), cancel all subscriptions and give the funds to researchers, and the market will take care of the rest?
Eric, when many of us are struggling to get something concrete and practical that has already been tried, tested, and proven effective -- namely, green OA mandates -- to be implemented by more institutions after 15 years of needlessly lost research access and impact, I don't think this is the opportune time to try or even contemplate rather speculative hypotheses!
EV:If "release hidden information" (1) means provide online access to refereed research to which access is currently denied to users at non-subscribing institutions, then this is the one and only fundamental rationale for OA, and has been ever since the online era made it feasible. (But I'm afraid this might not even be what Eric means by "release hidden information"!)
EV:An institution's scholarly record is already "archived" in the journals in which is was published (3) (all of them are now online and archived at the publisher's toll-gated website). The trouble is that the institution itself has no record of its own research output. (Mandating green OA provides that.)
OA doesn't just speed up research communication and progress (4), it maximizes research progress (by making it accessible to researchers who are otherwise denied access). That's not just speed: it's access and hence uptake, usage and impact.
And the purpose of OA is to provide free access for all would-be users, whether or not their institutions can afford paid access to the publisher's version of record. Access to the author's refereed final draft (5) may sound like less than perfect for a librarian, but it is the difference between night and day for an otherwise access-denied researcher.
EV:This is a profound error and misunderstanding: The fundamental reason for providing OA is to "release" published information that was only accessible to users at subscribing institutions rather than to all would-be users. It is not about information that had "no suitable distribution platform." (Although pre-refereeing papers, other kinds of research content, and even the "grey" literature are all welcome in repositories too, OA's first and foremost target content is refereed, published research.)
EV:Eric is conflating "gold" OA publishing with green OA self-archiving here: Green OA is a supplement, not a substitute, for refereed research journals. No "credible alternative intended": just a remedy for access-denial.
And the goal of OA itself is not to "rein in journal prices" but to provide online access for all users, not just the ones whose institutions can afford the journal prices.
So Eric is again conflating the problem of journal affordability with the problem of research accessibility.
EV:Without lowering prices, access-denial to users whose institutions cannot afford subscriptions is irrelevant?
Keep paying their subscriptions and journals will provide access for those who can't afford to pay for it?
Perhaps what Eric means is that if all subscribing institutions promised to keep paying the asking price in perpetuo, then journals would agree to make all their contents OA?
But who would (or could) make such a (foolish) promise?
EV:The HEP community is the only one in the world that has already provided (green) OA for itself without the need for a mandate. Hence there is effectively no more access denial worldwide for the HEP subset of the journal literature. The HEP community has effectively solved its accessibility problem.
What the HEP community does as a follow-up, to address the affordability problem, is of far less concern and relevance to the rest of the scholarly and scientific community, which is still afflicted with access denial (and its resulting loss in research usage, progress and impact). What the non-HEP world needs is OA.
But it should be mentioned that the SCOAP3 project is effectively the one that I called into question above: No institution can or will guarantee that it will keep paying for subscriptions in perpetuo. So the jury is still out on whether such a scheme is sustainable. But we already know it is not scalable beyond HEP, because the non-HEP world has not yet even taken the first essential step, which is to provide green OA.
That's why green OA mandates are needed.
Publishing reform will take care of itself after OA has (green) become universal -- not before.
EV:SCOAP3 is a consortial "membership" solution about whose sustainability and scalability there are, as noted, good reasons to have doubts.
But it is irrelevant. Because HEP already has (green) OA, unmandated, whereas the rest of the scholarly and scientific world does not.
EV:Harnad, S. (2010) No-Fault Peer Review Charges: The Price of Selectivity Need Not Be Access Denied or Delayed. D-Lib Magazine 16 (7/8).
ABSTRACT:Plans by universities and research funders to pay the costs of Open Access Publishing ("Gold OA") are premature. Funds are short; 80% of journals (including virtually all the top journals) are still subscription-based, tying up the potential funds to pay for Gold OA; the asking price for Gold OA is still high; and there is concern that paying to publish may inflate acceptance rates and lower quality standards. What is needed now is for universities and funders to mandate OA self-archiving (of authors' final peer-reviewed drafts, immediately upon acceptance for publication) ("Green OA"). That will provide immediate OA; and if and when universal Green OA should go on to make subscriptions unsustainable (because users are satisfied with just the Green OA versions) that will in turn induce journals to cut costs (print edition, online edition, access-provision, archiving), downsize to just providing the service of peer review, and convert to the Gold OA cost-recovery model; meanwhile, the subscription cancellations will have released the funds to pay these residual service costs. The natural way to charge for the service of peer review then will be on a "no-fault basis," with the author's institution or funder paying for each round of refereeing, regardless of outcome (acceptance, revision/re-refereeing, or rejection). This will minimize cost while protecting against inflated acceptance rates and decline in quality standards.
Harnad, S. (2011) Gold Open Access Publishing Must Not Be Allowed to Retard the Progress of Green Open Access Self-Archiving. Logos 21(3-4): 86-93
ABSTRACT:Universal Open Access (OA) is fully within the reach of the global research community: Research institutions and funders need merely mandate (green) OA self-archiving of the final, refereed drafts of all journal articles immediately upon acceptance for publication. The money to pay for gold OA publishing will only become available if universal green OA eventually makes subscriptions unsustainable. Paying for gold OA pre-emptively today, without first having mandated green OA not only squanders scarce money, but it delays the attainment of universal OA.
EV:Eric, I know (and an old friend and comrade-at-arms!)...
EV:Me too (though I've been discouraged about that for about 15 years now...).
EV:Independent of OA. (So who's conflating now? Your doubts were billed as being about OA, not about the cost of scholarly publishing...
EV:The affordability problem: not the accessibility problem.
EV:Speculative or non-speculative, it is not the research accessibility problem, and it does not solve it.
EV:The way to get everyone to join is for all institutions and funders to mandate it.
EV:What is too difficult to use? I have no trouble using the OA content that's there. The problem is that most of it (85%) isn't there. That's why the mandates are needed.
EV:You're right, so now EnablingOpenScholarship (EOS) is working to guide institutions on how to optimize those mandates by getting rid of their loopholes: http://bit.ly/EOSoaPolicy
EV:My patience ran out long ago! (For some perverse reason, I'm still plugging away at it...)
EV:And it is not intended to. It is intended to solve the access problem of researchers.
EV:1. Green OA's cost per paper deposited is negligible. With 100% deposit (because of 100% mandates), even lower.
2. Green OA, if mandated, can provide 100% OA, solving 100% of the accessibility problem.
3. The journal affordability problem is not the same problem, and we've agreed not to conflate them (remember?).
EV:That's their problem and their look-out (because we've agreed not to conflate, right?). I've many times cautioned that SCOAP3 is premature, unnecessary, unscalable and unsustainable. But I don't care if I'm ignored: I'm too busy being ignored on how to solve the accessibility problem to worry about being ignored on how not to solve the affordability problem!
EV:An implicit promise there are strong reasons to expect that they cannot and will not keep, in the long term: http://bit.ly/ScoapCope But, again, that's another problem, not my problem, not the accessibility problem.
EV:Academics (and research itself) both need peer review. Journals provide the peer review. (In the online era, they need no longer provide access and the archival record, but they do that too. Eventually they won't have to.) But just as OA is not the journal affordability problem, it is not the problem of the future of publishing either. Green OA changes none of this: It just solves the accessibility problem.
EV:They are right.
EV:This is a bit simplistic: Researchers want their quality journals, and they want the journals they read and publish in (all three are not always the same). Providing (and mandating) green OA does not change any of this (though it might eventually induce downsizing to peer review alone, and conversion to the gold OA model to recover peer review's much lower costs):
Harnad, S. (2007) The Green Road to Open Access: A Leveraged Transition. In: The Culture of Periodicals from the Perspective of the Electronic Age, pp. 99-105, L'Harmattan.
EV:How have you managed to draw me into a discussion of journal pricing and affordability, Eric, when we had agreed we were not going to conflate that with the OA problem? ;>)
EV:But Eric, I'm also strongly in favor of putting an end to our unnecessary and cruel slaughter of animals in order to please our palates - but I don't conflate that with OA either! Why must I speculate about the scholarly-journal business when all I want is that institutions and funders should mandate green OA self-archiving?
Thursday, February 25. 2010
University of Southampton
EnablingOpenScholarship (EOS) &
How to build a business case for an Open Access policy
Full version of the report
Podcast interview with Alma Swan and Neil Jacobs
A new report launched today (25 February 2010) shows how universities can work out how much they could save on their profit and loss accounts as well as increasing their contribution to UK plc when they share their research papers through Open Access.
The ‘modelling scholarly communication options: costs and benefits for universities’ report, written by Alma Swan, is based on different types of university. It shows how universities might reduce costs, how they can calculate these saving and their greater contribution to society by following an Open Access route.
Neil Jacobs, programme manager at JISC says, “This is the first time that universities will have a method and practical examples from which to build a business case for Open Access and to calculate the cost to them of the scholarly communications process. For example working out the value of researchers carrying out peer-reviewing duties or the comparative costs of the library handling of journals subscribed to in print, electronically, or in both formats.
“As universities such as Edinburgh, Salford and UCL lead the world to mandate self-archiving and adopt Open Access policies, this report gives evidence to help universities make informed decisions about how their research is disseminated. There are still issues to overcome and the benefits of adopting an Open Access route can be seen through economies of scale, the more researchers disseminate their work through this route the greater the benefits.”
The key findings from the report show:
• The annual savings in research and library costs of a university repository model combined with subscription publishing could range from £100,000 to £1,320,000Jacobs adds: “While some research intensive universities may pay more for the subscription-funding to per-article Open Access journal scenario, it should be noted that many research funders, including the Research Councils and Wellcome Trust, may contribute article-processing charges as a part of normal research grants, so that all universities have a potential source of income to cover the majority of such costs.
“JISC is working with partners in the sector to overcome the barriers which exist to adopting Open Access.”
The report focussed on three approaches to Open Access:
Martin Hall, Vice Chancellor at the University of Salford says: “We have recently implemented an Open Access mandate to self-archive. The reason we decided to adopt this approach is that evidence shows that research published online has higher citations and can also be used as a way to promote our competitiveness internationally.”Open access journals - content freely available online using a business model that does not rely on subscriptions
If you’re looking to implement an Open Access policy here are four aspects to consider:
• Consult across the whole the university on the barriers and benefits of implementing an Open Access policySupporting materials:
• How to build a case for university policies and practices in support of Open AccessThe report was commissioned by JISC and written by Alma Swan of EnablingOpenScholarship (EOS), Key Perspectives and University of Southampton.
Podcast interview with Alma Swan and Neil Jacobs
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