Wednesday, May 1. 2013
What UK institutions (and RCUK) need far more urgently than an RCUK compliance mechanism to collect, monitor and disburse the UK funds for Gold double-payments (sic) is an RCUK compliance monitoring mechanism for cost-free Green OA -- and HEFCE/REF have proposed a natural way to accomplish this:
1. HEFCE proposes to make immediate deposit of the final draft of peer reviewed articles in the institutional repository, immediately upon acceptance for publication, a requirement for eligibility for submission to REF 2020.That done, institutions can go back to counting the gold chicks allotted them by RCUK's golden hen, knowing that their RCUK mandate requirements are already fulfilled via Green. No worries about running out of money to pay for publication.
And the added bonus is that if the Gold is not spent on paying publishers even more money than is being spent already for subscriptions, any leftover can now be spent on facilitating and implementing Green OA and monitoring compliance (see replies of Doug Kell to the BIS Parliamentary Select Committee about what can be done with the RCUK Gold OA funds if there is no need to spend them on Gold OA).
The natural next step toward global OA will be to integrate institutional and funder mandates worldwide to make them convergent and mutually reinforcing. HEFCE/REF have shown the way to do so.
This will also put the UK back into the worldwide OA leadership role it had from 2004-2012 and then lost with the Finch Committee's egregious proposal to mandate paid Gold (by restricting UK authors' right to choose their journals for their quality standards alone, rather than their cost-recovery model, and by redirecting scarce research funds to double-pay publishers for Gold OA instead of just providing cost-free Green OA).
Tuesday, April 2. 2013
European Union requires Open Access: "Money is essential in OA, and only governments are able to provide sufficient funds on a major scale."This conflates author-pays publishing in "Gold" OA journals with cost-free author self-archiving of articles published in subscription journals ("Green" OA).
No extra money is needed for Green OA self-archiving. It just requires a clear mandate (requirement) to self-archive, by depositing the author's final, peer-reviewed draft in the author's institutional repository immediately upon acceptance for publication. The deposit should be made OA immediately (or after an embargo period whose allowable length should be as short as possible).
Research Councils UK, under the influence of the publisher lobby, has adopted a mandate that prefers to pay for Gold OA, though it also (reluctantly) allows Green OA. Fortunately, however, HEFCE (Higher Education Founding Council of England) has proposed to mandate immediate deposit of all articles as a precondition for eligibility for evaluation in the Research Excellence Framework (REF), an important source of top-sliced research funding for UK universities.
The EU OA mandate should be for Green OA only, with immediate deposit required (and no embargoes allowed to exceed 6 months). No extra money should be provided for Gold OA. Publication costs today are still being covered in full by worldwide institutional journal subscriptions. So paying for Gold OA today entails double-paying: subscriptions plus Gold OA fees (poached from scarce research funds).
Journal subscriptions cannot be canceled until all journal articles are available by some other means. Globally mandating Green OA will provide that other means. Then subscriptions can be cancelled, releasing the institutional funds to pay for Gold OA without having to double pay -- and also driving down the price of Gold OA (currently vastly inflated) to fair, affordable, sustainable levels, by offloading all access-provision and archiving onto the worldwide distributed network of Green OA institutional repositories (phasing out the publisher's print and online edition and their costs):
Post-Green Gold OA will be "Fair Gold." Today's pre-emptive, Pre-Green Gold OA is profligate "Fool's Gold."
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.
____ (2008) Waking OA’s “Slumbering Giant”: The University's Mandate To Mandate Open Access. New Review of Information Networking 14(1): 51 - 68
____ (2009) The PostGutenberg Open Access Journal. In: Cope, B. & Phillips, A (Eds.) The Future of the Academic Journal. Chandos.
____ (2010) No-Fault Peer Review Charges: The Price of Selectivity Need Not Be Access Denied or Delayed. D-Lib Magazine 16 (7/8).
____ (2011) Open Access to Research: Changing Researcher Behavior Through University and Funder Mandates. JEDEM Journal of Democracy and Open Government 3 (1): 33-41.
____ (2012) United Kingdom's Open Access Policy Urgently Needs a Tweak. D-Lib Magazine 18: 9/10
Houghton, J. & Swan, A. (2013) Planting the Green Seeds for a Golden Harvest: Comments and Clarifications on "Going for Gold" D-Lib Magazine 19: 1/2
Saturday, March 30. 2013
"The Open Access Interviews: Johannes Fournier, speaking for the Global Research Council."
JF: "Personally, I see one definite advantage of the Golden Road: it brings with it clear regulations as regards re-use. Contrastingly, self-archiving will often not provide the legal basis that allows for specific forms of re-use like text-and data-mining."This is the classic example of "letting the 'best' become the enemy of the 'better'".
Free-access ("Gratis OA") is within reach (via universal Green OA mandates), free-access-plus-re-use-rights ("Libre OA") is not.
Re-use is use-less without access, and we are nowhere near having free-access to all, most, or much of the journal-article corpus.
Or, to put it another way, the first and foremost "use" is access. So losing more of the precious time (and use) that has already been lost by continuing to over-reach for re-use rights when users don't even grasp the use that is already within reach, is, for want of a better word, a persistent head-shaker in the slow, sad saga of OA.
JF: "My views on self-archiving mandates are grounded in the philosophy of the organisation that employs me. The DFG is self-governed by researchers… And researchers don’t like to be forced to do things, they like to be supported and encouraged. For that reason, the DFG encourages open access by funding opportunities that facilitate providing research results in open access."If one thing has been learnt from the slow, sad saga of OA (now at least two decades old) it is that mandating OA works, but encouraging it doesn't.
And neither the DFG nor DFG researchers are any different in this regard. The notion that mandating OA would be an illegal constraint on academic freedom in the DFG remains just as wrong-headed today as it has been since the first day it began to be endlessly parroted -- as wrong-headed as the notion that mandating "publish or perish" (which is, of course, mandated in the DFG, just as it is everywhere else in the research world) would be an illegal constraint on academic freedom in the DFG.
JF: "a dichotomy between Green and Gold tends to obscure the question we really need to ask ourselves: what kind of mechanisms could be designed in order to shift money from acquisition budgets into publication funds? Because the transition to open access will only succeed if we find ways to reinvest those funds which are already used to pay for information provision."The goal of Open Access to research is Open Access to research. If we had universal OA to research, the "serials crisis" would instantly become a minor matter rather than the life/death issue it is now (Think about it.)
But, yes, universal, sustainable OA will indeed entail a "shift [of] money from acquisition budgets into publication funds." The missing causal component in this irreproachable reasoning, however, is: "what will drive that shift?".
And that missing causal component (again: think about it) is universal mandatory Green OA self-archiving. (I will not, yet again, spell out the causal contingencies. See here and here.)
JF: "the need to buy the subscription content remains. Yet although the transition requires additional money, it might not be necessary to really pay twice: one could operate more economically if the subscription prices for a local library or for a consortium were adjusted to the growth of publication fees. That’s how to avoid so-called double-dipping… I know this sounds very simple and might be rather complex in its implementation, especially because the implementation is likely to require that the funding streams are readjusted."The "implementation" might be rather complex indeed, without mandatory Green OA to drive down costs and force the shift. About as complex as alleviating world hunger, disease or poverty by likewise "readjusting funding streams"...
Wednesday, March 13. 2013
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?)!
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.
Friday, February 22. 2013
RCUK allowing hybrid Gold payment only if the publisher allows the Green option within the RCUK 6-12-24+ embargo limits is no solution for the perverse effects of the new RCUK policy.
The only solution is for RCUK to allow hybrid Gold payment only if the publisher allows an immediate un-embargoed Green option -- and RCUK must leave the choice between Green or Gold options completely up to the author (no "preference," no "decision tree").
A subscription publisher that pits paid hybrid Gold against embargoed Green is practicing extortion, with or without the help of RCUK's perverse policy.
Embargoes are a complicated story that will soon have to be told forthrightly.
Publishers embargo green under the pretext that it's the only way to protect themselves from sure ruin.
That is utter nonsense, of course.
What embargoes really do is to delay (i.e. embargo) the natural, inevitable evolution from subscription publishing to Fair-Gold OA publishing at a fair, affordable, sustainable price by "protecting" double-payment at today's grotesquely inflated Fool's-Gold price.
Embargoes embargo both OA and Fair Gold, in order to lock in current subscription revenues and Fool's Gold.
Think about it….
But the compromise of an immediate-deposit/optional-access (ID/OA) mandate (in which deposit must be immediate but access to the deposit may be embargoed), once globally adopted, will ensure that publishers will be unable to keep embargoing the optimal and inevitable outcome for research, researchers and the tax-paying public much longer.
Whatever else it does, RCUK should immediately and unambiguously adopt (and ensure compliance with) an ID/OA mandate.
Friday, February 15. 2013
It is definitely a canard that all, most or even the majority of OA is Gold OA.
It is also definitely untrue that all, most or even the majority of Gold OA is APC-based (Article Processing Charge).
But I think it is also true that the majority of non-APC-based Gold OA journals are not among the top journals in most fields -- the ones most institutions need to subscribe to, and the ones that also tend to be the journals indexed by ISI (and that doesn't just mean preoccupation with journal impact factors: those are also the journals that have established a track-record for high quality peer review standards).
I may be wrong, but I think it is misleading to equate the canard about OA being Gold OA with the misimpression that most Gold OA is APC-based: It's not, but there's more to it than that.
And I also think that although it's true that today's limited and patchy Green OA has not caused journal cancelations, once OA becomes universally mandatory, Green OA will go on to make subscriptions unsustainable, and journals will have to cut costs, downsize, and find another source of revenue to cover the remaining costs. And that other source of revenue will be Gold OA APCs, per paper submitted for peer review, at a fair, affordable, sustainable price, paid out of a portion of each institution's annual windfall savings from the subscription-cancellations induced by universal Green OA.
That will be affordable, sustainable Fair-Gold OA (as compared to today's Fool's Gold OA, double-paid alongside subscriptions at an absurdly inflated price). But I do not believe that either parallel subscription income, alongside universal Green -- or subsidies, or (as some imagine) pure voluntarism and thin air -- will be sustainable ways of paying for the much-reduced but still non-zero cost, per paper submitted, of post-Green peer-reviewed journal publishing.
"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]Unilateral Gold is the losing choice in a Prisoner’s Dilemma. If an institution, funder or country unilaterally mandates Gold OA Publishing (with author publication charges) today, instead of first (effectively) mandating Green OA self-archiving (at no added cost) then that institution/funder/country has made the losing choice in a non-forced-choice Prisoner's Dilemma (see below):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)
Saturday, December 22. 2012
In Gold Open Access: Counting the Costs, Ariadne 70 (2012), Theo Andrew [TA] points out some of the prominent problems with Gold OA costs and RCUK policy, but he misses some of the most important ones:
TA: "RCUK stated that Gold OA is the preferred mechanism of choice to realise open access for outputs that they have funded and have announced the award of block grants to eligible institutions to achieve this aim. Where a Gold OA option is unavailable, Green OA is also acceptable; however, RCUK have indicated that the decision will be ultimately left up to institutions as to which route to take."Theo states the policy correctly but fails to point out that as it stands, the policy is self-contradictory:
1. RCUK prefers Gold.So is or isn't the choice of Green unacceptable where Gold is available? Is or isn't the fundee free to choose Green?
RCUK has since grudgingly conceded, in supplementary statements, that the institution and author are indeed free to choose Green or Gold even when a journal offers both; but RCUK have still stubbornly refused to fix the official policy wording, which continues to state that Green can only be chosen if the journal does not offer Gold, rather than stating, simply and forthrightly:
"Fundees may choose Green or Gold."(Perhaps this incoherence and ambiguity is left in so as to bias confused authors and institutions toward RCUK's preferred choice ...)
TA: "There is a general expectation that over time APCs will settle to a reasonable rate and similarly journal subscriptions will lower to reflect the gradual change in business model from subscription fees to APCs. "General expectations, and speculations. (Whose? and on what evidence are they based?)
But meanwhile, if the RCUK expectations and speculations are wrong then RCUK authors are being "preferentially" pushed toward paying an unreasonable APC rate (and perhaps also toward renouncing their preferred journals).
(And publishers are being tempted towards offering hybrid Gold OA, at their choice of price, to cash in on the prospect of UK Gold double payment. And the ambiguity about the allowability of Green when hybrid Gold is offered tempts hybrid publishers to adopt and lengthen Green embargoes beyond RCUK's allowable limits, to further increase their chances of collecting a UK Gold APC, over and above their worldwide subscription revenues.)
Nor will subscription prices be lowered because of publishers' UK APC windfalls: Subscriptions are worldwide matters; the UK only produces 6% of worldwide research.
And if the goal of the RCUK policy is to provide Open Access to UK research -- rather than to test Finch/RCUK expectations and speculations at the expense of UK research funds -- then RCUK need only have mandated Green.
But in any case, UK researchers, if they can find their way through the RCUK policy's formal double-talk, can comply by choosing to provide Green OA without paying any APCs.
Moreover, the PCs (sic) (publishing costs) are already being paid, in full -- by (UK and worldwide) subscriptions.
TA: "Much of this transition period to full open access will have to be navigated through uncharted territory, where no one has a clear handle on the costs involved. "Yes, the transition to Gold OA is indeed uncharted; moreover, the destination is a global one. It is not at all evident that the UK is in a position to steer the world on this uncharted course by unilaterally conducting its expensive and heavy-handed experiment -- or it is merely needlessly wasting a lot of scarce UK research money to double-pay publishers.
The most likely outcome of the UK experiment, however, will be that the vast majority of UK researchers choose Green rather than Gold.
Moreover, if RCUK does not implement a mechanism for monitoring and ensuring compliance with the Green OA option, the RCUK mandate will not even generate Green OA.
(All RCUK compliance considerations are so far focused exclusively on how to spend the Gold funds, and what to do when they run out; not a word has been said yet on how to ensure that Green is actually provided, when chosen.)
TA: "[E]ven with guaranteed funding from HEFCE, and other funders of research, large research-intensive universities will not be able to pay for all of their research to be published under Gold OA. "And here is an instance of this blinkered focus on how to spend HEFCE Gold: If researchers and their institutions manage to read through the RCUK double-talk, they will see that what they can do if the HEFCE Gold subsidy runs -- or even while the HEFCE funds are still available to double-pay publishers -- is to choose to provide Green OA, at no extra cost in APCs.
(Please recall that the UK and the rest of the world are still paying for publication costs, in full, via subscriptions; and that those subscriptions cannot be cancelled, anywhere, until and unless all of that journal content, from everywhere, is accessible by another means: That other means is Green OA.)
TA: "[There is] a positive correlation between APCs and impact factor"And a moment's reflection will show that the causality underlying that correlation cannot possibly be that paying more money for APCs raises articles' citation counts! Obviously the journals with the higher impact factors are charging higher APCs.
TA: "[P]ublication in hybrid journals (n=185) was significantly more popular than publishing in full OA journals (n=75). This may be due to the fact that there are more hybrid journals to publish in…. the average APC cost for hybrid journals was £1,989.79 compared to £1,128.02 for full OA journals – a difference of £861.77."Of course there are more established journals that have offered hybrid Gold OA as an option (potential double-earners for them, super-easy to offer, at no cost or risk) than there are new start-up Gold OA journals. And of course it is the established journals that have the track-record for quality, rather than new start-ups.
And obviously a track-record for quality is more "popular" with authors than a pig-in-a-poke.
What's not obvious is why any author would prefer to pay their journal-of-choice for hybrid Gold OA, when they can provide Green OA at no cost.
But that is precisely the practice that the RCUK OA policy was meant to have remedied, by mandating Green OA (with an effective system to ensure compliance) rather than throwing money needlessly and pre-emptively at Gold while PCs (sic) are still being paid, in full -- by (UK and worldwide) subscriptions.
TA: "Research-intensive institutions are likely to be hit twice; since they publish more articles and more frequently in higher-impact journals, their share of Gold OA bills is likely to be disproportionally larger."This is Theo's biggest oversight: Productive institutions are being hit thrice, not twice!
Not only do more productive institutions (1) publish more articles, (2) in higher-quality (hence higher-APC) journals, but, by far the most important of all, they are (3) still paying in full for PCs, via subscriptions, over and above any APCs they are paying for Gold (whether hybrid or "pure"). Indeed all institutions that produce any research at all are double-paying for whatever OA they buy via Gold APCs, high or low.
In a nut-shell: Paying pre-emptively for Gold OA APCs today is unnecessary, premature, over-priced, and a waste of scarce research funds while subscriptions are still paying (in full) for publication costs (PCs).
It is only if and when mandatory Green OA becomes universal worldwide, and makes it possible for institutions to cancel subscriptions by offering an alternative way of accessing all published research, that journals will need to convert to Gold OA -- and institutions can then use their annual windfall subscriptions savings to pay their APCs.
And those post-Green APCs will be far lower than today's Gold APCs; hence they will be affordable and sustainable (rather than bloated arbitrary double-payments, as now). Why? Because the cancelation pressure from global Green OA will force publishers to cut obsolete goods and services and their costs (like the print edition and the publisher PDF) and to offload all access-provision and archiving functions onto the global network of Green OA institutional repositories, leaving nothing to charge APCs for but the management of the peer review (which the peers do, as always, pro bono).
Moreover, the APCs for the post-Green Gold OA peer-review management will be "no-fault", which means that they will be charged uniformly for each actual round of refereeing, for all submitted articles -- regardless of whether the outcome is acceptance, revision/resubmission or acceptance -- rather than bundling the APCs for refereeing the rejected articles into the APC of each accepted article.
Journals will not earn more by trying to charge a higher APC for refereeing: they will earn more by establishing higher quality standards for evaluation (and those may indeed be worth a higher refereeing price). But in any case, refereeing prices will be so low, compared to the windfall subscription cancelation savings, that affordability will no longer be the life/death matter that it is for journal subscription PCs today.
This is all hypothetical, of course (just like RCUK's "general expectations and speculations"). But the fundamental and all-important fact that Green OA is already paid for, in full, by subscriptions today -- and hence can provide OA cost-free -- is not at all hypothetical.
TA: "The causes of significantly higher APC costs for high impact factor and hybrid journals are hard to identify and the suggestions made here are purely speculative..."The principal reason higher quality journals (which are often, but not always, higher-impact-factor journals) can and do charge higher APCs is obviously that they are the journals that are more in demand, and hence can name their price.
As to the other potential factors:
TA: "[Possible causes of higher APC coats:] Higher rejection rates"Yes, higher-quality journals reject more articles. Hence, in a pre-Green Gold APC system, they bundle the costs of rejected articles into the costs of accepted ones.
Post-Green, this arbitrary bundling will no longer be necessary; and meanwhile, pre-Green, it is not necessary to pay Gold APCs for OA: Green OA will provide OA at no extra cost in APCs over and above PCs.
TA: "[Possible causes of higher APC coats:] Reprints: various publishers have commented that they maximise their income streams by selling commercial reprints. A fully open licence (for example Creative Commons Attribution CC-BY) would remove this as users are free to distribute and reuse without further payment. "These days most authors respond to reprint requests with eprints, not hard-copy.
But just as pre-emptive Gold is neither urgent nor necessary, CC-BY is neither urgent nor necessary in most fields. Some fields may indeed need CC-BY more than others, but all fields need free online access: it's much easier and cheaper to provide (and mandate), and yet we do not have even that yet.
Moreover, for online articles, most uses already come with the territory, with Green (Gratis) OA.
TA: "[Possible causes of higher APC coats:] Value: Related to the issue of brand, there is a commonly held view that having high costs for publishing articles in high impact journals is justified as this is a valued service for which researchers are willing to pay a premium."The value of a journal comes from its track-record for quality, which in turn comes from its peer review standards. Higher quality journals are in higher demand, by both authors and users, so when they double-charge for hybrid Gold, pre-Green, they can ask for higher APCs.
Gold OA APCs post-Green for peer review alone will be so much lower that any price differences will be negligible.
(I also suspect that after the post-Green conversion to universal Gold APCs for peer review alone, it may well turn out to be the lower-quality journals that charge more, for faster, lower-standard refereeing, rather than the higher-quality journals.)
TA: "[Possible causes of higher APC coats:] Commercial publishers may seek to set the APCs at a price point which they think the market can bear. "But pubishers would have more trouble doing this if it were not for RCUK's double-talk about author choice: It would certainly help keep pre-Green Gold prices down if RCUK fundees had a clear idea that whenever they did not wish to pay (or could not), they could always provide Green for free instead of paying for Gold.
TA: "In theory, researchers can choose exactly where to publish and are free to publish elsewhere if they don't like the prices. "Better still, they can provide Green and not pay any price at all (if they can see their way through the RCUK red tape obscuring this fact.)
TA: "[W]ith an inelastic market - researchers are unlikely to shop around - and where the costs are sheltered - central funds mean that researchers are not exposed directly to costs - the APCs would remain high because normal market forces would not drive costs down."If RCUK authors have sense, they will not waste scarce research money on double-paying publishers for Gold OA APCs at all while subscription PCs are still being paid: They will simply provide Green.
TA: "Hybrid journals seem to be more popular venues for Open Access publication"This was already explained earlier: Established journals are likely to be hybrid Gold rather than pure-Gold start-ups, and they are also likely to be (rightly) in greater demand. -- But there's also no need to double-pay them for hybrid Gold. RCUK fundees can simply choose Green.
TA: "Hybrid journals generally charge more than full OA journals independent of journal impact factor"That's probably because unlike pure-Gold OA journals, hybrids still have to provide a print edition (with its associated costs); so if they publish N articles per year, they probably charge somewhere around 1/Nth of their total annual subscription PC revenue (or at least 1/Nth of their total annual publication costs) for each hybrid Gold double-payment.
TA: "There is a positive correlation between APC cost and impact factor for both hybrid and full OA journals."Supply and demand: High quality/impact journals are in greater demand, allowing them to get away with a higher hybrid APC price.
TA: "Open Access policies require rigorous compliance monitoring to be successful, and seem to be more effective when punitive sanctions are imposed.""Punitive" is overstating it. Mandate effectiveness needs both carrots and sticks, but RCUK has so far only specified how it will monitor Gold compliance. For Green, RCUK would do well to look to the Belgian model.
TA: "Research-intensive institutions are likely to be hit by a cost ‘double whammy’; they not only publish more articles, but they also publish them more frequently in high-impact-factor journals."Triple whammy: Besides any Gold APCs, they also have to keep paying subscription PCs.
Gargouri, Y, V Lariviere, Y Gingras, T Brody, L Carr & S Harnad (2012) Testing the Finch Hypothesis on Green OA Mandate Ineffectiveness arXiv:1210.8174
Monday, December 17. 2012
General cost analysis for scholarly communication in Germany: results of the 'Houghton Report' for Germany by John W. Houghton, Berndt Dugall, Steffen Bernius, Julia Krönung, Wolfgang KönigSome Comments:Management Summary: Conducted within the project “Economic Implications of New Models for Information Supply for Science and Research in Germany”, the Houghton Report for Germany provides a general cost and benefit analysis for scientific communication in Germany comparing different scenarios according to their specific costs and explicitly including the German National License Program (NLP).
Like previous Houghton Reports, this one has carefully compared unilateral and global cost/benefits for Gold Open Access Publishing and Green Open Access Self-Archiving. In this case, the options also included the German National License Program (NLP), a negotiated national site license providingGerman researchers with access to most of the journals they need.
As it found in other countries, the Report finds that Green OA self-archiving provides the best benefit/cost ratio in Germany too.
It needs to be noted, however, that among the scenarios compared, only subscription publishing (including licensed subscriptions) and Gold OA publishing are publishing models. Green OA self-archiving is not a substitute publishing model but a system of providing OA under the subscription/licensing model -- by supplementing it with author self-archiving (and with self-archiving mandates adopted by authors' institutions and funders).
"Open Access self-archiving… [is] further divided into (i) Green Open Access’ self-archiving operating in parallel with subscription publishing; and (ii) the ‘overlay services’ model in which self-archiving provides the foundation for overlay services (e.g. peer review, branding and quality control services))"Strictly speaking, the "overlay services model" is just another hypothetical Gold OA publishing model, but one in which the Gold OA fee is only paying for the service of peer-review, branding and quality control rather than for the all the rest of the products and services journals that are currently still being co-bundled in journal subscriptions and their costs (print edition, online edition, access-provision, hosting, archiving).
This hypothetical Gold OA model is predicated, however, on the assumption that there is universal Green OA self-archiving too, in order to perform the access-provision, hosting and archiving functions of what was formerly co-bundled under the subscription model.
Hence for existing journals the "overlay" Gold OA model is really just the second stage of a 2-stage transition that begins with the Green OA self-archiving access-provision system. In such a transition scenario, although Green OA would begin as a supplement to the subscription model, it would become an essential contributor to the sustainability of the overlay Gold OA model.
"comparing costs and benefits… [of] open access on returns to R&D over a 20 year period… we find that the benefits of open access publishing models are likely to substantially outweigh the costs and, while smaller, the benefits of the German NLP also exceed the costs."Again, it needs to be kept in mind that what are being compared are not just independent alternative publishing models, but also supplementary means of providing OA; so in some cases there are some very specific sequential contingencies and interdependencies among these models and scenarios.
"The NLP returns substantial benefits and savings at a modest cost, returning one of the highest benefit/cost ratios available from unilateral national policies during a transitional period (second to that of ‘Green Open Access’ self-archiving)."I presume that in considering the costs and benefits of German national licensing the Houghton Report considered both the unilateral German national licensing scenario and the scenario if reciprocated globally. In this regard, it should be noted that OA has both user-end benefits [maximized access] and author-end benefits [maximized impact]: Unilateral national licenses provide only the former, not the latter. Both unilateral Green and unilateral Gold, in contrast, provide only the latter but not the former. So what needs to be taken into account is global scalability and sustainability: How likely are other nations (and institutions) to wish -- and afford - to reciprocate under the various scenarios?
"Whether ‘Green Open Access’ self-archiving in parallel with subscriptions is a sustainable model over the longer term is debatable"First of all, if subscription publishing itself is not a sustainable model, then of course Green OA self-archiving is not a sustainable supplement either.
But in the hypothetical "overlay" Gold OA model it is being assumed that Green OA self-archiving is indeed sustainable -- as a practice, not as a substitute form of publishing. (It is naive to think of spawning 28,000 brand-new Gold OA peer-reviewed journals in place of the circa 28,000 journals that exist today: A conversion scenario is much more realistic.)
And probably the most relevant sustainability question is not about the sustainability of the practice of Green OA self-archiving (keystrokes and institutional repositories), nor the sustainability of subscription publishing, but the sustainability of subscription publishing in parallel with universal Green OA self-archiving. One natural possibility is that globally mandated Green OA self-archiving will make journal subscriptions unsustainable, inducing a transition in publishing models, with journals, under cancelation pressure, cutting inessential products and services and their costs, and downsizing to what is being here called the "overlay" Gold OA model (though that's probably not the aptest term to describe the outcome), while at the same time releasing the subscription cancelation funds to pay the much lower peer review service fees it entails.
"The results are comparable to those of previous studies from the UK and Netherlands. Green Open Access in parallel with the traditional model yields the best benefits/cost ratio."And what also need to be taken into account are sequential contingencies and priorities: Green OA self-archiving is not only the cheapest, fastest and surest way to provide OA, but it is also the natural way to induce a subsequent transition to affordable, sustainable Gold OA. But in order to be able to do that, it has to come first.
"Beside its benefits/cost ratio, the meaningfulness of the NLP is given by its enforceability.|Green OA self-archiving mandates are enforceable too. And global scaleability and sustainability has to be taken into account too, not just local access-provision.
"The true cost of toll access publishing (beside[s] the [cost of the] "buyback” of information) is the prohibition of access to research and knowledge for society."But when toll access publishing is globally supplemented by mandatory Green OA self-archiving, the "prohibition" is pre-empted, at next to no extra cost.
Tuesday, November 27. 2012
I think that what Richard is worrying about here is whether the cost-cutting that a transition from subscription publishing to Gold OA publishing would make possible (e.g., curtailing the print edition) would be reflected in lower Gold OA charges to the author/institution or they would simply be absorbed by the publisher (Aspesi's (2012) test case being Elsevier), leaving Gold OA charges higher than they need to be.Claudio Aspesi, BernsteinResearch: “We estimate that a full transition to OA could lead to savings in the region of 10-12% of the cost base of a subscription publisher.”Richard Poynder, on the Global Open Access List (GOAL): "The key question: if that estimate is accurate, will those savings be passed on to the research community?"
I join this speculation and counter-speculation only reluctantly, for two reasons:
(1) I think there are significant transition factors that none of the economic analyses has yet fully taken into account, and hence that the potential savings are still being considerably underestimated.Post-Green Gold will cost far less than the pre-emptive pre-Green Gold that the economic analyses keep estimating.
We keep counting the "savings" from generic Gold OA publishing without reckoning how to get there, and whether the transition itself might not be a major determinant in the potential for savings (from OA as well as from Gold OA).
I am not an economist, so I will not try to do anything more than to point out the main factor that I believe the economic analyses are failing to take into account:
If Green OA self-archiving in institutional repositories is mandated globally by institutions and funders, this will have two major consequences:
I. First, not only will globally mandated Green OA provide universal OA (and all of its benefits, scientific and economic) alongside subscription publishing, at minimal additional cost (because (a) repositories are relatively cheap to create and maintain, (b) most research-active institutions have created repositories already, and (c) have done so for multiple purposes, OA being only one of them).Not only can the print edition and its costs be phased out under cancelation pressure from global Green OA, but so can the publisher's online edition and version of record: The worldwide network of Green OA repositories and their many central harvesters are perfectly capable of generating, hosting, archiving and providing access to the version-of-record. No more PDF or XML needed from the publisher; nor archiving; nor access provision; nor marketing; nor fulfillment. Nor any of their associated expenses.
All that's needed from the publisher is the service of managing the peer review (peers review for free) and the certification of its outcome with the journal's title and track-record.
That's post-Green Gold OA publishing. Compared to that, all the economical estimates of savings are under-estimates.
Nor will there be any need -- with post-Green Gold OA -- for mega-publishers (like Elsevier), publishing vast fleets of unrelated journals; nor for mega-journals (like PLoS ONE, now the biggest journal in the world, twice as big as the next-biggest one), publishing vast flocks of unrelated articles. There are many narrow research specialities, a few wider ones, and a few even wider, multidisciplinary ones. They each have their own peers and readerships, and they each need their own peer-reviewed journals; depending on the size of the field, some fields will need several journals, forming a pyramid of quality standards, the most selective (hence smallest) at the top.
There may indeed have been economies of scale for multiple journal production in the Gutenberg days. But in the PostGutenberg era, with post-Green Gold OA journals, providing solely the service of peer review, there will be no need for generic refereeing being mass-marketed by generic editorial assistants for mega-publishers or mega-journals, where no one other than the referee (if competently selected!) knows anything about the subject matter.
So besides scaling down to the post-Green OA essentials, post-Green Gold OA journals will also revert to being the independent, peer-based titles that they were before being jointly bought up for by the post-Maxwellian publisher megalopolies. The online-era economies will come from restoring journals to their own natural speciality scale rather than from agglomerating them into generic multiple money-makers for superfluous middlemen who simply commodify what scholars give away and seek.
Aspesi, C (2012) Reed Elsevier: Transitioning to Open Access - Are the Cost Savings Sufficient to Protect Margins? BernsteinResearch November 26
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.
Harnad, S. (2009) The PostGutenberg Open Access Journal. In: Cope, B. & Phillips, A (Eds.) The Future of the Academic Journal. Chandos.
Harnad, S. (2010a) No-Fault Peer Review Charges: The Price of Selectivity Need Not Be Access Denied or Delayed. D-Lib Magazine 16 (7/8).
Harnad, S. (2010b) The Immediate Practical Implication of the Houghton Report: Provide Green Open Access Now. Prometheus, 28 (1). pp. 55-59.
Houghton, John W. & Swan, Alma (2012) Planting the green seeds for a golden harvest. Comments and clarifications on “Going for Gold”
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