Friday, June 15. 2012
Thierry Chanier's posting on the Global Open Access List (GOAL) is very right to express his concern about publisher control over Héloise, the French counterpart of the SHERPA/Romeo directory of publisher policies on author Open Access (OA) self-archiving.
The fundamental function of such an OA policy directory is to inform authors about whether or not a journal to which they are contemplating submitting a paper has given its green light to make their peer-reviewed final draft OA immediately upon deposit -- or, if not, the length of the journal's embargo on making the deposit OA.
Some supplemental information may be useful too (e.g., publisher OA policy on the unrefereed preprint or the publisher's PDF, locus of deposit -- institutional or institution-external -- and further re-use rights).
But the primary purpose of such a directory is to inform authors on whether and when they have a given journal's green light to make a peer-reviewed deposit OA. This is what needs to be foregrounded and made crystal clear.
Héloise instead seems to be a portal for publishers to dictate practice to authors on a variety of matters. This is likely to confuse rather than clarify matters for authors on the one paramount question on which they need a clear, straightforward answer.
It is fine for publishers to provide the requisite parametric information for Heloise (the directory is, after all, meant to inform authors about publisher OA policy), but very far from fine for Heloise to be placed at publishers' disposal to formulate or dictate practice to authors.
Thierry is quite right to ask that Heloise be put under the control of a committee composed exclusively of researchers and academics. Publishers can provide the data, as they do for SHERPA/Romeo, and then Heloise can present the data according to the parameters needed by authors who want to know whether and when they have the journal's green light to make what OA, where.
The current Héloise site makes a travesty out of the meaning of a green tick! (It can mean an embargo of 5 years!)
I suggest that the coding be a green tick only for those publishers or journals that give their green light to immediate OA. (A pale green tick could, optionally, indicate that the publisher or journal gives its green light to immediate OA for unrefereed preprints.) If there is an embargo, its length can be stated (with a red X).
If there are conditions on locus of deposit, these could be stated (institutional or non-institutional). And if there are re-use rights over and above free online access, those too can be stated.
Any further publisher recommendations should be consigned to an appendix or as links to the publisher's website.
The research community can never remind itself too often what it repeatedly seems to forget: Peer-reviewed journal publishing is a service industry. It is performing a service to the research community (for which it is paid, abundantly, via subscriptions). Research is not funded by the public, nor conducted and published by researchers as a service to the publishing industry.
Researchers give their papers to publishers for free, and peer-reviewers (also researchers) give their refereeing services to publishers for free, in exchange for maximal access to their work. OA provides maximal access. If publishers are trying to put constraints on authors providing OA, this should be made crystal clear in Heloise, so the authors can then make informed choices.
Saturday, June 2. 2012
Elsevier has formally acknowledged its authors' right to self-archive their final drafts free for all online since 2004.
Under "What rights do I retain as a journal author?", Elsevier's "Authors' Rights & Responsibilities" document formally states that Elsevier authors retain the right to make their final, peer-reviewed drafts Open Access immediately upon publication (no embargo) by posting them on their institutional website (Green Gratis OA):
"[As an Elsevier author you retain] the right to post a revised personal version of the text of the final journal article (to reflect changes made in the peer review process) on your personal or institutional website or server for scholarly purposes"More recently, however, an extra clause has been slipped into this statement of this retained right to self-archive:
"but not in institutional repositories with mandates for systematic postings."The distinction between an institutional website and an institutional repository is bogus.
The distinction between nonmandatory posting (allowed) and mandatory posting (not allowed) is arbitrary nonsense. ("You retain the right to post if you wish but not if you must!")
The "systematic" criterion is also nonsense. (Systematic posting would be the institutional posting of all the articles in the journal. But any single institution only contributes a tiny, arbitrary fraction of the articles in any journal, just as any single author does. So the mandating institution would not be a 3rd-party "free-rider" on the journal's content: Its researchers would simply be making their own articles OA, by posting them on their institutional website, exactly as described.)
This "systematic" clause is hence pure FUD, designed to scare or bully or confuse institutions into not mandating posting, and authors into not complying with their institutional mandates. (There are also rumours that in confidential licensing negotiations with institutions, Elsevier has been trying to link bigger and better pricing deals to the institution's agreeing either to allow OA to be embargoed for a year or longer or not to adopt a Green OA mandate at all.)
Along with the majority of publishers today, Elsevier is a Green publisher: Elsevier has endorsed immediate (unembargoed) institutional Green OA posting by its authors ever since 27 May 2004.
Elsevier's public image is so bad today that rescinding its Green light to self-archive after almost a decade of mounting demand for OA is hardly a very attractive or viable option:
And double-talk, smoke-screens and FUD are even less attractive
It will be very helpful -- in making it easier for researchers to provide (and for their institutions and funders to mandate) Open Access -- if Elsevier drops its "you may if you wish but not if you must" clause, which is not only incoherent, but intimidates authors. (This would also help counteract some of the rather bad press Elsevier has been getting lately...)
Friday, June 1. 2012
"Open access will bankrupt us,
publishers’ report claims"
Times Higher Education Supplement
1 June 2012.
It would be useful if those who negotiate with publishers could unite behind a simple response to this kind of publisher FUD about "bankruptcy":
The survival of the publishing industry and of peer review are neither at issue nor at risk when Green OA self-archiving of their peer-reviewed research output is mandated by institutions and funders.
What publishers are exercised about is insuring their current revenue streams and modus operandi from any risk of downsizing.
Institutions and funders, in negotiating with publishers, should stop behaving as supplicants -- as if publishers were doing the research community a favour that we daren't risk provoking them into withdrawing from us. That's nonsense.
Nor should institutions and funders negotiate with publishers as if it were the duty and responsibility of the research community to insure the sustainability of publishers' current revenue streams, come what may.
Institutions and funders should go ahead and mandate Green OA, universally, for the sake of research and research access.
Subscriptions are paying the full cost of publication, handsomely, today.
If Green OA makes subscriptions no longer sustainable as the means of covering the remaining costs of publication, publishers will adapt.
And for those publishers who don't wish to adapt to a downsized business, their journal titles will migrate to publishers who do.
That's all there is to it.
No contingencies between subscription price negotiations and institutional Open Access policy; nor about embargo length.
Institutions and funders: Don't discuss mandates with publishers. It's none of their affair. Just discuss subscription prices.
Institutions and funders: Whether or not some publishers have a policy embargoing OA self-archiving, go ahead and mandate immediate deposit, decide how long an embargo on making the deposit OA you want to allow, and state that limit.
Authors can do the rest for themselves, especially with the help of the institutional repository's email-eprint-request Button for individual users wishing to request an eprint of an embargoed deposit for research purposes during any OA embargo period.
The worst possible thing for institutions or funders to do is to adapt their OA mandate to what publishers claim are their "needs" to ensure protection from bankruptcy: Publishers will survive OA. And the journal titles whose publishers pull out because they are not content with the downsized business will survive too.
Research is not publicly funded, conducted and published in order to subsidize the revenue streams of the research publishing industry.
Research publishing is a service-provider for research, researchers, their institutions and the funders for whose benefit the research is being done: the tax-paying public.
And the "culprit" in the downsizing of research publishing -- who is at the same time the benefactor of which research productivity and progress are the beneficiary -- is the online medium and the economies and efficiencies it has made possible.
In other words, Bell Labs, DARPA, Google and Tim Berners-Lee
Berners-Lee, T., De Roure, D., Harnad, S. and Shadbolt, N. (2005) Open Letter to Research Councils UK: Rebuttal of ALPSP Critique.
Thursday, March 22. 2012
Comment on Elsevier Editors' Update by Henk Moed:No study based on sampling and statistical significance-testing has the force of an unassailable mathematical proof.
But how many studies showing that OA articles are downloaded and cited more have to be published before the ad hoc critiques (many funded and promoted by an industry not altogether disinterested in the outcome!) and the special pleading tire of the chase?
There are a lot more studies to try to explain away here.
Most of them just keep finding the same thing...
(By the way, on another stubborn truth that keeps bouncing back despite untiring efforts to say it isn't so: Not only is OA research indeed downloaded and cited more -- as common sense would expect, since it accessible free for all, rather than just to those whose institutions can afford a subscription -- but requiring (mandating) OA self-archiving does indeed increase OA self-archiving. Where on earth did Henk get the idea that some institutions' self-archiving "did not increase when their OA regime was transformed from non-mandatory into mandatory"? Or is Henk just referring to the "mandates" that state that "You must self-archive -- but only if and when your publisher says you may, and not if your publisher says 'you may if you may but you may not if you must'"...? Incredulous? See here and weep (for the credulous -- or chuckle for the sensible)...)
Wednesday, March 14. 2012
Re: Richard Poynder: Open Access, brick by brick. Open and Shut? Tuesday, March 13, 2012Let universities and research funders follow the UK's lead, not Australia's lag (apart from QUT!): Forget about Gold OA publishing for now and mandate the researcher keystrokes that would have given us 100% [Green] OA 20 years ago, had they only been done, unmandated, 20 years ago.
The reward will not only be 100% [Green] OA at long last, putting an end to 20 years of needlessly lost research impact globally, but Gold OA at a fair price soon thereafter.
(Apart from desperate and appallingly maladroit (and doomed) lobbying efforts with governments (and closed-door bargaining efforts with customers) to try to deter or delay Green OA mandates, Elsevier has nothing to do with it, one way or the other: Providing OA is entirely -- repeat: entirely -- in the research community's hands (at their fingertips), once they awaken from their insouciant slumber and realize at last that it is -- and has been all along.
Harnad, S. (2008) Waking OA’s “Slumbering Giant”: The University's Mandate To Mandate Open Access. New Review of Information Networking 14(1): 51 - 68
Saturday, March 3. 2012
Comments on Richard Poynder's interview of Claudio Aspesi in Open and Shut: "Scholarly Publishing: Where is Plan B?"
1. Research libraries cannot, need not and will not cancel (important) journals until all or almost all their contents are freely accessible to their users by some other means.(It is this optimal and inevitable outcome for research and researchers that the publishers' lobby is doing its best to forestall as long as it possibly can. But it's entirely up to the research community how long they allow them to do it. As long as they do, it amounts to allowing the flea on its tail to wag the research/dog…)
Harnad, S. (2007) The Green Road to Open Access: A Leveraged Transition. In: Anna Gacs. The Culture of Periodicals from the Perspective of the Electronic Age. L'Harmattan. 99-106.
Thursday, February 2. 2012
While the worldwide researcher community is again busy working itself up into an indignant lather with yet another publisher boycott threat, I am still haunted by a "keystroke koan":
"Why did 34,000 researchers sign a threat in 2000 to boycott their journals unless those journals agreed to provide open access to their articles - when the researchers themselves could provide open access (OA) to their own articles by self-archiving them on their own institutional websites?"Not only has 100% OA been reachable through author self-archiving as of at least 1994, but over 90% of all refereed journals (published by 65% of all refereed journal publishers) have already given their explicit green light to some form of author self-archiving -- with over 60% of all journals, including Elsevier's -- giving their authors the green light to self-archive their refereed final drafts ("postprint") immediately upon acceptance for publication...
So why are researchers yet again boycotting instead of keystroking, with yet another dozen years of needlessly lost research access and impact already behind us?
We have met the enemy, Pogo, and it's not Elsevier.
(And this is why keystroke mandates are necessary; just keying out boycott threats to publishers is not enough.)
Saturday, January 7. 2012
Research Works Act H.R.3699: The Private Publishing Tail Trying To Wag The Public Research Dog, Yet Again
The US Research Works Act (H.R.3699): "No Federal agency may adopt, implement, maintain, continue, or otherwise engage in any policy, program, or other activity that -- (1) causes, permits, or authorizes network dissemination of any private-sector research work without the prior consent of the publisher of such work; or (2) requires that any actual or prospective author, or the employer of such an actual or prospective author, assent to network dissemination of a private-sector research work."
Translation and Comments:
H.R. 3699 misunderstands the secondary, service role that peer-reviewed research journal publishing plays in US research and development and its (public) funding.
It is a huge miscalculation to weigh the potential gains or losses from providing or not providing open access to publicly funded research in terms of gains or losses to the publishing industry: Lost or delayed research progress mean losses to the growth and productivity of both basic research and the vast R&D industry in all fields, and hence losses to the US economy as a whole.
What needs to be done about public access to peer-reviewed scholarly publications resulting from federally funded research?
The minimum policy is for all US federal funders to mandate (require), as a condition for receiving public funding for research, that: (i) the fundee’s revised, accepted refereed final draft of (ii) all refereed journal articles resulting from the funded research must be (iii) deposited immediately upon acceptance for publication (iv) in the fundee's institutional repository, with (v) access to the deposit made free for all (OA) immediately (no OA embargo) wherever possible (over 60% of journals already endorse immediate gratis OA self-archiving), and at the latest after a 6-month embargo on OA.It is the above policy that H.R.3699 is attempting to make illegal.
The purpose of mandating open access to federally funded research findings is to ensure that the findings are accessible to all their potential users, not just (as in the print era) to those whose institutions can afford subscription access to the journal in which they happened to be published.
Unlike trade magazine and newspaper articles, whose authors write them for fees or royalties, research journal articles are author give-aways, written solely for research uptake and impact. Hence unlike trade publishing, peer-reviewed research journal publishing is a service industry. It exists in the service of research, researchers and research progress. These are vastly larger and more crucial economically than research journal publishing itself, as a business. Hence it is the research publishing industry that must adapt to the powerful new potential that the online era has opened up for research, researchers, research institutions, research funders, the vast R&D industry, teachers, students, and the tax-paying public that funds the research. Not vice versa.
A vast new potential for research has been opened up by the Web. It would be a great mistake, economically speaking, if research, researchers, the R&D industry and the US tax-paying public all had to renounce this newfound potential so as to protect and preserve the current revenue streams and M.O. of the publishing industry. That M.O. evolved for the technology and economics of the bygone Gutenberg era of print on paper. H.R.3699 would prevent evolution from continuing, to allow research to reap the full benefit of the PostGutenberg era.
Requiring research to adapt to publishing would amount to the publishing tail wagging the research dog: The peer-reviewed research publishing industry exists as a service industry for research, not vice versa:
Publicly funded research is entitled to the full scientific and public benefits opened up for it by the online era. Foremost among these benefits is the fact that (online) access to publicly funded research need no longer be restricted to those users who subscribe to the journal in which it was published. The research publishing industry can and will continue to evolve until it adapts naturally to the age of free online access to research.
Among the many important implications of Houghton et al’s (2009) timely and illuminating analysis of the costs and benefits of providing free online access (OA) to peer-reviewed scholarly and scientific journal articles one stands out as particularly compelling: It would yield a forty-fold benefit/cost ratio if the world’s peer-reviewed research were all self-archived by its authors so as to make it OA. There are many assumptions and estimates underlying Houghton et al’s modelling and analyses, but they are for the most part very reasonable and even conservative. This makes their strongest practical implication particularly striking: The 40-fold benefit/cost ratio of providing Green OA is an order of magnitude greater than all the other potential combinations of alternatives to the status quo analyzed and compared by Houghton et al. This outcome is all the more significant in light of the fact that self-archiving already rests entirely in the hands of the research community (researchers, their institutions and their funders), whereas OA publishing depends on the publishing community. Perhaps most remarkable is the fact that this outcome emerged from studies that approached the problem primarily from the standpoint of the economics of publication rather than the economics of research.
It is hence ironic that some publishers are calling Open Access self-archiving by authors ("Green OA") “parasitic” on their "added value," when not only are researchers giving publishers their articles for free, as well as peer-reviewing them for free, but research institutions are paying for subscriptions in full, covering all publishing costs and profits. The only natural and obvious source of funds to pay OA publishing fees ("Gold OA") -- if and when subscriptions eventually become unsustainable -- is hence the money that institutions are currently spending on subscriptions. In other words, while peer review is still being paid for in full by subscriptions, there is no excuse for holding the author's final draft -- and research uptake, impact and progress -- hostage to publishers' current M.O.
What the research community needs, urgently, is free online access (Open Access, OA) to its own peer-reviewed research output. Researchers can provide that in two ways: by publishing their articles in OA journals (Gold OA) or by continuing to publish in non-OA journals and self-archiving their final peer-reviewed drafts in their own OA Institutional Repositories (Green OA). OA self-archiving, once it is mandated by research institutions and funders, can reliably generate 100% Green OA. Gold OA requires journals to convert to OA publishing (which is not in the hands of the research community) and it also requires the funds to cover the Gold OA publication costs. With 100% Green OA, the research community's access and impact problems are already solved. If and when 100% Green OA should cause significant cancellation pressure (no one knows whether or when that will happen, because OA Green grows anarchically, article by article, not journal by journal) then the cancellation pressure will cause cost-cutting, downsizing and eventually a leveraged transition to OA (Gold) publishing on the part of journals. As subscription revenues shrink, institutional windfall savings from cancellations grow. If and when journal subscriptions become unsustainable, per-article publishing costs will be low enough, and institutional savings will be high enough to cover them, because publishing will have downsized to just peer-review service provision alone, offloading text-generation onto authors and access-provision and archiving onto the global network of OA Institutional Repositories. Green OA will have leveraged a transition to Gold OA.
Harnad, S. (2011) What Is To Be Done About Public Access to Peer-Reviewed Scholarly Publications Resulting From Federally Funded Research? (Response to US OSTP RFI).
Harnad, S. (2011) Open Access Is a Research Community Matter, Not a Publishing Community Matter. Lifelong Learning in Europe, XVI (2). pp. 117-118.
Harnad, S. (2010) The Immediate Practical Implication of the Houghton Report: Provide Green Open Access Now. Prometheus, 28 (1): 55-59.
Harnad, S. (2007) The Green Road to Open Access: A Leveraged Transition. In: (A. Gacs. Ed.) The Culture of Periodicals from the Perspective of the Electronic Age pp. 99-105, L'Harmattan.
Houghton, J.W. & Oppenheim, C. (2009) The Economic Implications of Alternative Publishing Models. Prometheus 26(1): 41-54:
Houghton, J.W., Rasmussen, B., Sheehan, P.J., Oppenheim, C., Morris, A., Creaser, C., Greenwood, H., Summers, M. and Gourlay, A. (2009). Economic Implications of Alternative Scholarly Publishing Models: Exploring the Costs and Benefits, London and Bristol: The Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC)
Houghton, J.W. and Sheehan, P. (2009) Estimating the potential impacts of open access to research findings, Economic Analysis and Policy, vol. 39, no. 1, pp. 127-142.
Thursday, January 6. 2011
The following query came up on the UKCORR mailing list:
"I was surprised to read the paragraph below under author's rights":You can't blame Elsevier's Perplexed Permissions Personnel for trying: After all, if researchers -- clueless and cowed about copyright -- have already lost nearly two decades of research access and impact for no reason at all, making it clear that only if/when they are required (mandated) by their institutions and funders will they dare to do what is manifestly in their own best interests and already fully within their reach, then it's only natural that those who perceive their own interests to be in conflict with those of research and researchers will attempt to see whether they cannot capitalize on researchers' guileless gullibility, yet again."[you retain] the right to post a revised personal version of the text of the final journal article (to reflect changes made in the peer review process) on your personal or institutional web site or server for scholarly purposes, incorporating the complete citation and with link to the Digital Object Identifier (DOI) of the article (but not in subject-oriented or centralized repositories or institutional repositories with mandates for systematic postings unless there is a specific agreement with the publisher - see [here] agreements for further information)"
In three words, the above "restrictions" on the green light to make author's final drafts OA are (1) arbitrary, (2) incoherent, and (3) unenforceable. They are the rough equivalent of saying: You have "the right to post a revised personal version of the text of the final journal article (to reflect changes made in the peer review process) on your personal or institutional web site or server for scholarly purposes -- but not if you are required to do so by your institution or funder."
They might as well have added "or if you have a blue-eyed uncle who prefers tea to toast on alternate Tuesdays."
My own inclination is to say that if researchers prove to be stupid enough to fall for that, then they deserve everything that is coming to them (or rather, withheld from them).
But even I, seasoned cynic that the last 20 years have made me, don't believe that researchers are quite that stupid -- though I wouldn't put it past SHERPA/Romeo to go ahead and solemnly enshrine this latest bit of double-talk in one of its slavish lists of "Restrictions" on a publisher's otherwise "green" self-archiving policy, thereby helpfully furnishing an effective pseudo-official megaphone for every such piece of optimistic gibberish a publisher ventures to float, no matter how absurd.
My advice to authors (if, unlike what the sensible computer scientists and physicists have been doing all along -- namely, self-archiving for two decades without first seeking anyone's blessing -- they only durst self-archive if their publishers have first given them their green light to do so) is that they take their publishers at their word when they do give them their green light to do so, and ignore any SHERPA/Romeo tommy-rot their publishers may try to append to that green light to make it seem as if there is any rational line that can be drawn between "yes, you may make your refereed final draft OA" and "no, you may not make your refereed final draft OA."
For those who are interested in knowing what is actually happening, worldwide, insofar as OA self-archiving is concerned, I recommend reading Peter Suber's stirring 2010 Summary of real progress rather than the sort of pseudo-legalistic smoke-screening periodically emitted by Permissions Department Pundits (whether or not not they are canonized by SHERPA-Romeo).
Your Weary and Wizened Archivangelist
PS If you think my dismay is less with a publisher having a go at floating some self-serving obfuscation than with an OA service providing a channel for amplifying that obfuscation, then you've caught my drift! But don't forget that the lion's share of the dismay is reserved for the feckless research community, crouched in Zeno's Paralysis for two decades now...
Tuesday, August 10. 2010
Phil Davis continues his inexplicable preoccupation with what's best for the publishing industry, at the expense of what is best for research, researchers, their institutions, their funders, and the tax-paying public that funds them -- the ones by and for whom the research funded.
Phil's latest point is that the low uptake by authors of committed Gold OA funds indicates that authors don't really want OA.
But authors themselves have responded quite clearly, and repeatedly, in Alma Swan's international surveys, that they do need, want, and value OA. Yet they also state that they will only provide OA to their own writings if their institutions and funders require (i.e., mandate) them to provide it.
(There is definitely a paradox here, but it is not resolved by simply assuming that authors don't really want OA! It's rather more complicated than that. Authors would not publish much, either, if their institutions and funders did not require them to "publish or perish." And without that, where would the publishing industry be?)
I have dubbed the condition "Zeno's Paralysis," which is the fact that for a variety of reasons (38 at last count) -- all groundless and easily defeasible but relentlessly recurrent nonetheless, including worries about copyright, worries about getting published, worries about peer review, and even worries about the time and effort it might require to provide OA -- most authors will not provide OA spontaneously. And the cure is not only known, but has already been administered by over 150 institutions and funders: Mandate OA.
And the only form of OA that institutions and funders can mandate is Green OA self-archiving of all peer-reviewed journal articles, immediately upon acceptance for publication.
Apart from that, all they can do is provide some of their scarce funds (largely tied up in paying for subscriptions) to pay for a little Gold OA publishing. The uptake for that is even lower than for unmandated Green OA self-archiving, but that's certainly not evidence against Alma Swan's survey findings about what authors want, and what it will take to get them to provide it (and Arthur Sale's data confirming that authors actually do as they say they will do, if mandated).
Syndicate This Blog
Materials You Are Invited To Use To Promote OA Self-Archiving:
The American Scientist Open Access Forum has been chronicling and often directing the course of progress in providing Open Access to Universities' Peer-Reviewed Research Articles since its inception in the US in 1998 by the American Scientist, published by the Sigma Xi Society.
The Forum is largely for policy-makers at universities, research institutions and research funding agencies worldwide who are interested in institutional Open Acess Provision policy. (It is not a general discussion group for serials, pricing or publishing issues: it is specifically focussed on institutional Open Acess policy.)
You can sign on to the Forum here.