Friday, January 3. 2014
Peterson, G. M. (2013). Characteristics of retracted open access biomedical literature: A bibliographic analysis. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 64(12), 2428-2436.Can't read the article because it wasn't OA -- but what was being compared here? I doubt it was OA vs non-OA articles. More likely it was articles in Gold OA journals vs articles in toll journals. But the articles in toll journals might have been Green OA. And comparing Gold OA journal articles with toll journal articles is not comparing OA with non-OA. (And if you compare OA articles with non-OA articles, you can't draw conclusions about journal impact factor, error detection rates or retraction rates.)
Addendum: Someone kindly sent me a copy of the full text, so I now see that Green OA was taken into account in this study after all, although the author persists in describing the non-differences found as pertaining to OA publishing vs. non-OA publishing, whereas they do not: They pertain to whether or not the article is OA -- and it can be OA whether it is published in a Gold OA journal or in a non-OA journal. The author writes:
"the increasingly prominent body of open access literature is as reliable (and maybe more so) and of the same quality as the literature published under the model that was the gold standard for scholarly communications in the previous century"This continues to be a comparison of apples versus fruit, since at least as much of the literature that is open access today is "published under the gold standard for scholarly communications in the previous century" -- namely, the subscription-access (i.e., non-OA) publishing model (here confusingly called the "gold standard" publishing model, which is of course the opposite of the Gold OA publishing model) -- as is published under the Gold OA publishing model.
Open access is a property of the article, not necessarily of the journal. Hence OA articles are not necessarily being published under a different publishing model.
The study compared biomedical articles that were Gratis OA (free online), Libre OA (free online plus re-use rights) and non-OA, based on the PubMed Central (Libre OA), PubMed (Gratis OA and non-OA), Google Scholar (Gratis OA and non-OA) and Web of Science (journal impact factor and article citation rates) databases, for the proportion of retracted articles (under 1%) and for their post-retraction citation rate drops.
The outcome was mostly the finding of no differences. The only exception was a higher average impact factor for the journals in which Gratis OA articles were published compared to the (mostly Gold) journals in which Libre OA articles were published (not surprising, since most high impact journals are still non-OA journals today). No difference at all between the journals in which the Gratis Green OA articles were published and non-OA journals (not surprising, since this was a comparison of apples with fruit).
Monday, December 9. 2013
The Green/Gold distinction (which is based on who provides the access: the publisher [Gold] or the author [Green]) is more important now than ever, as publishers fight to retain control of their content. The distinction resolves confusion and is simple to understand (but then needs to be adhered to).
The OA movement should resolutely push for Green OA; Green OA mandates should be formulated to ensure that compliance is by the party bound by the mandate (the fundee, if a funder mandate, the employee, if an institutional mandate). On no account should mandates rely on compliance by a 2nd party, the publisher, who is not bound by the mandate and has every interest in maintaining control over the content.
There is a 3rd way in which articles can be made OA of course, other than by the author (or the author's assigns) (Green) or by the publisher (Gold): It can be made OA by a 3rd party -- either a user or a rival publisher or service provider. This is partly what the Elsevier/academia.edu kerfuffle is about, and it will no doubt spread to other 3rd party providers like ResearchGate, Mendeley and the like. (It also concerns versions, because Green OA usually involves only the author's final draft whereas 3rd-party OA often involves the publisher's proprietary version-of-record.)
My advice to those who are up in arms about Elsevier's take-down notice for 3rd-party service providers is to redirect your resentment toward doing something legal and feasible, namely, mandating and depositing the refereed, accepted author-draft in your institutional repository immediately upon acceptance, and making it OA as soon as your can (or wish).
The term "OA" (and the goal of the OA movement) should also continue to be reserved for immediate (online) access. The inverse of Open Access is Access Denial. Access is denied by Access Tolls (subscriptions, licenses, pay-to-view); but, just as surely, access is denied by Access Embargoes. Hence it is a contradiction in terms to call Embargoed Access "Delayed Open Access." It is Delayed Access (DA), just as Toll Access is Toll Access (TA), not "Toll Open Access!".
And a one year access embargo is now the real target to beat (as publishers already know all too well). Access delayed for a year is not a victory for the advocates of Open Access; nor is it a solution to the Access/Impact problem in the online era. A 1-year delay might be a convenient unit for doing bibliometric measurements on the growth and latency of Green and Gold Access (and a welcome compromise and marketing ploy for the publishing industry), but "Open Access" should continue to be reserved for immediate, toll-free (and permanent!) online access.
Sunday, December 8. 2013
The prediction that "It is almost certain that within the next few years most journals will become [Delayed] Gold (with an embargo of 12 months)" is an extrapolation and inference from the manifest pattern across the last half-decade:
1. Journal publishers know (better than anyone) that OA is inevitable and unstoppable, only delayable (via embargoes).The publishers' calculation is that since free access after a year is a foregone conclusion, because of Green mandates, it's better (for publishers) if that free access is provided by publishers themselves, as Delayed Gold, so it all remains in their hands (archiving, access-provision, navigation, search, reference linking, re-use, re-publication, etc.).
One-year delayed Gold is also being offered by publishers as insurance against the Green author's version taking over the function of the publisher's version of record.
(Publishers even have a faint hope that 1-year Gold might take the wind out of the sails of Green mandates and the clamor for OA altogether: "Maybe if everyone gets Gold access after a year, that will be the end of it! Back to subscription business as before -- unless the market prefers instead to keep paying the same price that it now pays for subscriptions, but in exchange for immediate, un-embargoed Gold OA, as in SCOAP3 or hybrid Gold…")
But I think most publishers also know that sustaining their current subscription revenue levels is a pipe-dream, and that all their tactics are really doing as long as they succeed is holding back the optimal and inevitable outcome for refereed research in the OA era for as long as they possibly can:
And the inevitable outcome is immediate Green OA, with authors posting their refereed, accepted final drafts free for all online immediately upon acceptance for publication. That draft itself will in turn become the version of record, because subscriptions to the publisher's print and online version will become unsustainable once the Green OA version is free for all.
Under mounting cancellation pressure induced by immediate Green OA, publishers will have to cut inessential costs by phasing out the print and online version of record, offloading all access-provision and archiving onto the global network of Green OA institutional repositories, and downsizing to just the provision of the peer review service alone, paid for -- per paper, per round of peer review, as Fair Gold (instead of today's over-priced, double-paid and double-dipped Fool's Gold) -- out of a fraction of each institution's annual windfall savings from their cancelled annual subscriptions.
So both the 1-year embargo on Green and the 1-year release of Gold are attempts to fend off the above transition: OA has become a fight for that first year of access: researchers need and want it immediately; publishers want to hold onto it until and unless they continue to be paid as much as they are being paid now. The purpose of embargoes is to hold OA hostage to publishers' current revenue levels, locking in content until they pay the right price.
But there is an antidote for publisher embargoes on immediate Green, and that is the immediate-institutional-deposit mandate plus the "Almost-OA" Request-a-Copy Button (the HEFCE/Liège model mandate), designating the deposit of the final refereed draft in the author's institutional repository immediately upon acceptance for publication as the sole mechanism for submitting publications for institutional performance review and for compliance with funding conditions.
Once those immediate-deposit mandates are universally adopted, universal OA will only be one keystroke away: The keystroke that sets access to an embargoed deposit as Open Access instead of Closed Access. With immediate-deposit ubiquitous, embargoes will very quickly die their inevitable and well-deserved deaths under the mounting global pressure for immediate OA (for which impatience will be all the more intensified by Button-based Almost-OA).
The scenario is speculative, to be sure, but grounded in the pragmatics, logic and evidence of what is actually going on today.
(Prepare for a vehement round of pseudo-legal publisher FUD about the copy-request Button as its adoption grows -- all groundless and ineffectual, but yet another attempt to delay the inevitable for as long as possible, by hook or by crook…)
Harnad, S. (2007) The Green Road to Open Access: A Leveraged Transition. In: Anna Gacs. The Culture of Periodicals from the Perspective of the Electronic Age. L'Harmattan. 99-106.
______ (2010) No-Fault Peer Review Charges: The Price of Selectivity Need Not Be Access Denied or Delayed. D-Lib Magazine 16 (7/8).
Hitchcock, S. (2013) The effect of open access and downloads ('hits') on citation impact: a bibliography of studies
Houghton, J. & Swan, A. (2013) Planting the Green Seeds for a Golden Harvest: Comments and Clarifications on "Going for Gold". D-Lib Magazine 19 (1/2).
Laakso, M & Björk, B-Ch (2013) Delayed open access. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology 64(7): 1323–29
Rentier, B., & Thirion, P. (2011). The Liège ORBi model: Mandatory policy without rights retention but linked to assessment processes.
Sale, A., Couture, M., Rodrigues, E., Carr, L. and Harnad, S. (2012) Open Access Mandates and the "Fair Dealing" Button. In: Dynamic Fair Dealing: Creating Canadian Culture Online (Rosemary J. Coombe & Darren Wershler, Eds.)
Suber, P. (2012) Open Access. MIT Press.
References added in 2014:
Saturday, December 7. 2013
Bo-Christer Björk is quite right. The Elsevier study's arbitrary (and somewhat self-serving) 6-category classification system (each of whose categories is curiously labelled a "publishing system") leaves much to be desired.
It is not just what Elsevier called "Gold Open Access" that was Gold Open Access, but also what they called "Subsidised." The difference is merely that what they called Gold was publishing-fee-based Gold and what they called subsidized was subsidy-based Gold:
4. Open Archives
5. Green Open Access: Pre-print versions
6. Green Open Access: Accepted Author Manuscript versions
Elsevier also neglected to mention that "Subsidised" did not necessarily mean subsidized either: There are also subscription-based journals that make their online versions free immediately upon publication; hence they are likewise Gold OA journals.
What Elsevier called "Open Archives" is also not what it sounds like: It seems to be Delayed Access articles, accessible only after a publisher embargo, either on the publisher's website or in another central website, such as PubMed Central, where publishers also deposit, sometimes immediately, sometimes after an embargo.
The two Green Open Access categories are also ambiguous.The pre-print versions are (correctly) described as pre-refereeing drafts (but it would take a lot closer analysis to determine whether the pre-prints differ from the refereed version. It is easy to determine whether they were posted before the official publication date but far from easy to determine whether they were posted before refereeing. (The date of the letter of acceptance of the refereed draft is often one that only the author and the editor know -- though it is in some cases printed in the journal: did Elsevier look at that too?)
The post-refereeing author's drafts are presumably what they are described as being, but it is not clear by what criteria Elsevier distinguished them from pre-refeeeing drafts (except when they were in an institutional repository and specifically tagged as unrefereed).
So, as Bo-Christer points out, there are many methodological questions about the data without whose answers their meaningfulness and interpretability is limited. I would say that the timing issue is perhaps the most important one. And to sort things out I would like to propose a different system of classification:
Open Access (OA): The term OA should be reserved for immediate OA, regardless whether it is provided by the publisher (Gold) or the author (Green). A reasonable error-margin for OA should be within 3 months or less from publication date. Anything longer begins to overlap with publisher embargoes (of 6, 12, 24 months or longer).
Delayed Access (DA): The term DA should be used for delays of more than 6 months. And besides the usefulness of separately counting 6, 12, and 24 month DA, DA should also be analyzed as a continuous variable, reckoned in months starting from the date of publication (including negative delays, when authors post the refereed draft during the interval from acceptance date to publication date. The unrefereed preprint, however, should not be mixed into this; it should be treated as a separate point of comparison.
So there is Gold OA (immediate), Green OA (immediate), Gold DA and Green DA (measured by 6-month intervals as well as continuously in months.
If a separate distinction is sought within Gold, then fee-based Gold, subsidy-based Gold and subscription-based Gold can be compared, for both OA and DA. The locus of deposit of the Gold is not relevant, but the fact that it was done by the publisher rather than the author (or the author's assigns) is extremely relevant.
For Green OA and DA it is also important to compare locus of deposit (institutional vs. institution-external). See mandates below.
In all cases independence and redundancy should uniformly be controlled: Whenever a positive "hit" is made in any category, it has to be checked whether there are any instances of the same paper in other categories. Otherwise the data are not mutually exclusive.
If desired, all the above can be further subdivided in terms of Gratis (free online access) and Libre (free online access plus re-use rights) OA and DA.
Tracking Gold has the advantage of having clear unambiguous timing (except if the publication date differs from the date the journal actually appears) and of being exhaustively searchable without having to sample or check (if one has an index of the Gold OA and DA journals).
Tracking Green is much harder, but it must be done, because the fight for OA is rapidly becoming the fight against embargoes. That's why Green OA should be reserved for immediate access. It is almost certain that within the next few years most journals will become Gold DA (with an embargo of 12 months). Hence 12 months is the figure to beat, and Green DA after 18 months will not be of much use at all.
And the best way to push for immediate Green OA, is to upgrade all Green mandates to require immediate institutional deposit, irrespective of how long an embargo the mandate allows on DA. Requiring immediate deposit does not guarantee immediate OA, but it guarantees immediate Almost-OA, mediated by the repository's automated copy-request Button, requiring only one click from the requestor and one click from the author.
The immediate-deposit requirement plus the Button not only fits all OA mandates (no matter how they handle embargoes of copyright), making it possible for all institutions and funders to adopt it universally, but it also delivers the greatest amount of immediate access for 100% of deposits: immediate Green OA for X% plus (100-X)% Button-mediated Almost OA. And this, in turn will increase the universal demand for immediacy to the point where publisher embargoes will no longer be able to plug the flood-gates and the research community will have the 100% immediate Green OA it should have had ever since the creation of the web made it possible by making it possible to free the genie from the bottle.
Friday, October 4. 2013
To show that the bogus-standards effect is specific to Open Access (OA) journals would of course require submitting also to subscription journals (perhaps equated for field, age and impact factor) to see what happens.
But it is likely that the outcome would still be a higher proportion of acceptances by the OA journals. The reason is simple: Fee-based OA publishing (fee-based "Gold OA") is premature, as are plans by universities and research funders to pay its costs:
Funds are short and 80% of journals (including virtually all the top, "must-have" journals) are still subscription-based, thereby tying up the potential funds to pay for fee-based Gold OA. The asking price for Gold OA is still arbitrary and high. And there is very, very legitimate concern that paying to publish may inflate acceptance rates and lower quality standards (as the Science sting shows).
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) in their institutional OA repositories, free for all online ("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), offload access-provision and archiving onto the global network of Green OA repositories, downsize to just providing the service of peer review alone (on a no-fault basis), 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.
That post-Green, no-fault Gold will be Fair Gold. Today's pre-Green (fee-based) Gold is Fool's Gold.
None of this applies to no-fee Gold.
Obviously, as Peter Suber and others have correctly pointed out, none of this applies to the many Gold OA journals that are not fee-based (i.e., do not charge the author for publication, but continue to rely instead on subscriptions, subsidies, or voluntarism). Hence it is not fair to tar all Gold OA with that brush. Nor is it fair to assume -- without testing it -- that non-OA journals would have come out unscathed, if they had been included in the sting.
But the basic outcome is probably still solid: Fee-based Gold OA has provided an irresistible opportunity to create junk journals and dupe authors into feeding their publish-or-perish needs via pay-to-publish under the guise of fulfilling the growing clamour for OA:
Publishing in a reputable, established journal and self-archiving the refereed draft would have accomplished the very same purpose, while continuing to meet the peer-review quality standards for which the journal has a track record -- and without paying an extra penny.
But the most important message is that OA is not identical with Gold OA (fee-based or not), and hence conclusions about peer-review standards of fee-based Gold OA journals are not conclusions about the peer-review standards of OA -- which, with Green OA, are identical to those of non-OA.
For some peer-review stings of non-OA journals, see below:
de Gloucester, P. C. (2013). Referees Often Miss Obvious Errors in Computer and Electronic Publications. Accountability in Research: Policies and Quality Assurance 20(3), 143-166.
Sunday, September 29. 2013
C P Chandrasekhar (2013) Only the Open Access Movement can address the adverse impact of Western domination of the world of knowlege. Frontline (Oct 4 2913)Interesting article, but I am afraid it misses the most important points:
1. As so often happens, the article takes "OA" to mean Gold OA journals, completely missing Green OA self-archiving and the importance and urgency of mandating it.Providing OA can completely remedy (a), which will in turn help mitigate (b) and that in turn may improve (c). (OA will also greatly enrich and strengthen the variety and validity of metrics.)
But not if we instead just tilt against impact factors and press for new forms of "branding." Branding is simply the earned reputation of a journal based on its track-record for quality, and that means its peer review standards, as certified by the journal's name ("brand").
What is needed is neither new Gold OA journals, nor new forms of "branding." What is needed is Open Access to the peer-reviewed journal literature, such as it is, free for all online: peer-reviewed research needs to be freed from access-denial, not from peer review.
And the way for India and China (and the rest of the world too) to reach that is for their research institutions and funders to mandate Green OA self-archiving of all their peer-reviewed research output.
That's all there is to it. The rest is just ideological speculation, which can no more provide Open Access than it can feed the hungry, cure the sick, or protect from injustice. It simply distracts from the tried and tested practical path that needs to be taken to get the job done.
Monday, September 16. 2013
Mike Taylor wrote:
In their recommendations and support for the Finch Report, which declared Green ineffective and recommended downgrading it to preservation archiving instead of OA. See:
RCUK: Don't Follow the Wellcome Trust OA Policy Model!
The advantages you see in Gold lie in your preferred definition of OA (and of "open" vs. "non-open"). And we are talking about Green OA and Gold OA, not Green and Gold. Your preferences are hence camouflaged by using the terminology generically.
There are, as you know, two kinds or degrees of OA:
You are an advocate for Libre OA, and when you use the words "OA" and "open" you mean Libre OA.Gratis OA: Free online access
I am an advocate for Green OA, and have given many reasons -- empirical, logical, strategic and practical -- for why Green, Gratis OA must come first:
So when you say you have no preference between Green and Gold and what you care about is OA, what you mean is Libre OA, which in turn entails a preference for Gold OA at the expense of Green OA (hence OA).1. Gratis OA is a prerequisite of Libre OA.
And that is exactly what you have been defending in your many public postings: You have criticized Green OA mandates for not requiring Green Libre OA (even though such mandates are presently impossible and would lead to author non-compliance and non-feasibility of Green OA mandates) and you have endorsed paying for Libre Gold OA in preference to providing just Gratis Green.
Not only is Libre OA just as premature and out of reach of mandates today as (Fool's) Gold OA (overpriced, double-paid, and, if hybrid, also double-dipped) is out of reach financially today, but even immediate, unembargoed Gratis Green OA is still not quite within reach of mandates yet:
The compromise has to be precisely theLiège-FNRS model immediate-deposit mandates now being recommended by BOAI-10, HOAP, HEFCE and BIS (with the eprint-request Button tiding over user needs during any allowable embargo) first.
Once those mandates are adopted globally, they will not only provide a great deal of (Gratis, Green) immediate-OA (at least 60%), plus Button-mediated Almost-OA for all the rest (40%): with all articles being immediately deposited, and with immediate-OA just one access-setting click away they will also exert mounting global pressure for immediate-OA. And 100% immediate-OA will in turn eventually exert cancelation pressure on publishers, which will force downsizing and conversion to Fair-Gold OA and as much Libre OA as users need and authors wish to provide.
Yup, I know that's what you prefer! And I've explained why your preferences are not directly realizable above. They are pre-emptive over-reaching. Grasp what's reachable first -- immediate-deposit mandates -- and that will bring the rest of what you seek within reach. Keep counselling unrealistic over-reaching instead, and we'll have yet another decade of next to nothing. First things first.
And that is precisely what BIS (and HEFCE and BOAI-10) are recommending to be mandated (not what you seem to be imagining).
OA mandates can only work if it is in authors' interests to comply willingly: if mandates try to co-opt authors' choice of journals, or cost them money, authors will not comply, and mandates will fail.
Even at one quarter the fee, and non-hybrid, the cost would still be double-paid (core-journal institutional subscription payments, uncancelable till their contents are accessible without them + individual author Gold journal APC payments), hence unaffordable Fool's Gold (and hence a disaster for a UK that pays it unilaterally). Only Green OA-induced cancellation pressure can downsize them to Fair Gold.
...we just ignore them...
Thursday, August 22. 2013
It is heartening to know that 50% of articles published in 2011 were freely accessible online by the end of 2012. But when did they become accessible? It could have been at any time from the date of acceptance for publication to December 2012!
The purpose of Open Access (OA) is to maximize the uptake, usage, applications and impact of research findings by making them accessible to all users online, rather than just to those users who have subscription access (SA).
There are two ways for authors to make access to their published findings free for all: Publish them in a journal that makes the articles free for all online ("Gold OA"). Or publish them in any journal at all, but also self-archive the final, peer-reviewed draft free for all online ("Green OA").
But both the Green and the Gold paths to access can be taken immediately, or only after a delay of months or years.
If subscription access (SA) is not OA but restricted access, because it is restricted to subscribers only, then surely both delayed Green Access and delayed Gold Access are not OA either, because access is restricted during any delay period.
Some journals, for example, impose a 12-month embargo on Green self-archiving. And of those subscription journals where the journal itself makes its articles freely accessible at no extra charge to the author, some journals only do so 12 months after publication or longer.
In many fields, the growth tip for accessing and building upon new findings is within the first year or even earlier. (See the figure from Gentil-Beccot 2009). With delays, potential research progress is slowed and reduced, some of it perhaps even permanently lost.
Harnad, S (2013) OA 2013: Tilting at the Tipping Point. Open Access Archivengelism 1022
Saturday, June 15. 2013
The (shared) goal of open access advocates is presumably open access (OA), not abstractions.
If papers are made OA, it means they are freely accessible to everyone online: both peers and public. If not, not.
So the only problem is getting the papers to be made OA -- and that means getting their authors (peers) to make them OA.
If all or most peers made their papers OA of their own accord, that would be it: The OA era would be upon us.
But most peers don’t make their papers OA of their own accord — for a large variety of reasons, all of them groundless, but nevertheless sufficient to have held back OA for over 20 years now.
The solution, fortunately, is known, and already being adopted, though not quickly or widely enough yet: OA has to be made mandatory. The peers have to be required by their funders and their institutions to provide OA.
The only other thing that is needed, then, is to persuade all research funders and institutions to mandate OA.
To do that, you have to give them a reason that is sufficient to convince funders, institutions and peers that all research needs to be made OA, hence that OA needs to be made mandatory.
So it all comes down to what is a sufficient reason for funders and institutions to mandate and peers to provide OA.
The public’s need for access is a reason for providing OA, to be sure, but not a sufficient reason. Fortunately, it need not be, because peer access is a sufficient reason, and peers are part of the public too, hence OA provides access to both peers and public.
So why all this empty shadow-boxing about ideology and elitism, when the only thing that matters is pragmatics?
What will successfully get all peers to provide OA? Telling them that it’s because the public has a burning need to read their papers certainly will not, since they all know perfectly well that in most (not all!) fields of research hardly anyone needs or wants to read their papers. The few exceptions do not make it otherwise.
Nor do they need to. For making research accessible to all of its potential users (of which the overwhelming majority are of course peers), rather than just to subscribers, as now, is reason enough for funders and institutions to mandate OA, and for peers to provide it.
Anyone is free to say to funders and institutions who mandate OA primarily to ensure peer access: “No, no, you must do it in order to ensure public, not just peer access access!”
But it’s a pointless exercise. And will not get OA provided for all of us sooner; it will just distract us from pragmatics (yet again) in favor of idle ideology.
Wednesday, May 29. 2013
The Global Research Council’s Open Access Action Plan is, overall, timely and welcome, but it is far too focused on OA as (“Gold”) OA publishing, rather than on OA itself (online access to peer-reviewed research free for all).
And although GRC does also discuss OA self-archiving in repositories (“Green” OA), it does not seem to understand Green OA’s causal role in OA itself, nor does it assign it its proper priority.
There is also no mention at all of the most important, effective and rapidly growing OA plan of action, which is for both funders and institutions to mandate (require) Green OA self-archiving. Hence neither does the action plan give any thought to the all-important task of designing Green OA mandates and ensuring that they have an effective mechanism for monitoring and ensuring compliance.
The plan says:
“The major principles and aims of the Action Plan are simple: they are (a) encouragement and support for publishing in open access journals, (b) encouragement and support for author self-deposit into open access repositories, and (c) the creation and inter-connection of repositories.”Sounds like it covers everything -- (a) Gold, (b) Green, and (c) Gold+Green – but the devil is in the details, the causal contingencies, and hence the priorities and sequence of action.
“In transitioning to open access, efficient mechanisms to shift money from subscription budgets into open access publication funds need to be developed.”But the above statement is of course not about transitioning to OA itself, but just about transitioning to OA publishing (Gold OA).
And the GRC’s action plans for this transition are putting the cart before the horse.
There are very strong, explicit reasons why Green OA needs to come first -- rather than double-paying for Gold pre-emptively (subscriptions plus Gold) without first having effectively mandated Green, since it is Green OA that will drive the transition to Gold OA at a fair, affordable, sustainable price:
Worst of all, the GRC action plan proposes to encourage and support hybrid Gold OA, with publishing not just being paid for doubly (via subscriptions to subscription publishers + via Gold OA fees to Gold OA publishers) but, in the case of hybrid Gold, with the double-payment going to the very same publisher, which not only entails double-payment by the research community, but allows double-dipping by the publisher.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.
That is the way to leave both the price and the timetable for any transition to OA in the hands of the publisher.
Action 6: Monitor and assess the affordability of open accessThere is no point monitoring the affordability of Gold OA today, at a stage when it is just a needless double-payment, at the publisher’s current arbitrary, inflated Gold OA asking price.
What does need monitoring is compliance with mandates to provide cost-free Green OA, while subscriptions are still paying in full (and fulsomely) for the cost of publication, as they are today.
Action 7: Work with scholarly societies to transition society journals into open accessThe only thing needed from publishers today – whether scholarly or commercial – is that they not embargo Green OA. Most (60%) don’t.
The transition to Gold OA will only come after Green OA has made subscriptions unsustainable, which will not only induce publishers to cut obsolete costs, downsize and convert to Gold OA, but it will also release the concomitant institutional subscription cancellation windfall savings to pay the price of that affordable, sustainable post-Green Gold.
Action 8: Supporting self-archiving through funding guidelines and copyright regulationsYes, Green OA needs to be supported. But the way to do that is certainly not just to “encourage” authors to retain copyright and to self-archive.
It is (1) to mandate (require) Green OA self-archiving (as 288 funders and institutions are already doing: see ROARMAP), (2) to adopt effective mandates that moot publisher OA embargoes by requiring immediate-deposit, whether or not access to the deposit is embargoed, and (3) to designate institutional repository deposit as the mechanism for making articles eligible for research performance review. Then institutions will (4) monitor and ensure that their own research output is being deposited immediately upon acceptance for publication.
Action 9: Negotiate publisher services to facilitate deposit in open access repositoriesAgain, the above is a terribly counterproductive proposal. On no account should it be left up to publishers to deposit articles.
For subscription publishers, it is in their interests to gain control over the Green OA deposit process, thereby making sure that it is done on their timetable (if it is done at all).
For Gold OA, it’s already OA, so depositing it in a repository is no challenge.
It has to be remembered and understood that the “self” in self-archiving is the author. The keystrokes don’t have to be personally executed by the author (students, librarians, secretaries can do the keystrokes too). But they should definitely not be left to publishers to do!
Green OA mandates are adopted to ensure that the keystrokes get done, and on time. Most journal are not Gold OA, but a Green OA mandate requires immediate deposit whether or not the journal is Gold OA, and whether or not access to the deposit is embargoed.
Action 10: Work with publishers to find intelligent billing solutions for the increasing amount of open access articlesThe challenge is not to find “billing solutions” for the minority of articles that are published as Gold OA today. The challenge if to adopt an effective, verifiable Green OA mandate to self-archive all articles.
Action 11: Work with repository organisations to develop efficient mechanisms for harvesting and accessing informationThis is a non-problem. Harvesting and accessing OA content is already powerful and efficient.
It can of course be made incomparably more powerful and efficient. But there is no point or incentive in doing this while the target content is still so sparse – because it has not yet been made OA (whether Green or Gold)!
Only about 10 – 40% of content is OA most fields.
The way to drive that up to the 100% that it could already have been for years is to mandate Green OA.
Then (and only then) will be there be the motivation to “develop [ever more] efficient mechanisms for harvesting and accessing [OA] information”
Action 12: Explore new ways to assess quality and impact of research articlesThis too is happening already, and is not really an OA matter. But once most articles are OA, OA itself will generate rich new ways of measuring quality and impact.
(Some of these comments have already been made in connection with Richard Poynder's intreview of Johannes Fournier.)Harnad, S. (2009) Open Access Scientometrics and the UK Research Assessment Exercise. Scientometrics 79 (1)
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