Tuesday, November 19. 2013
Ann Okerson (as interviewed by Richard Poynder) is committed to licensing. I am not sure whether the commitment is ideological or pragmatic, but it's clearly a lifelong ("asymptotic") commitment by now.
I was surprised to see the direction Ann ultimately took because -- as I have admitted many times -- it was Ann who first opened my eyes to (what eventually came to be called) "Open Access."
In the mid and late 80's I was still just in the thrall of the scholarly and scientific potential of the revolutionarily new online medium itself ("Scholarly Skywriting"), eager to get everything to be put online. It was Ann's work on the serials crisis that made me realize that it was not enough just to get it all online: it also had to be made accessible (online) to all of its potential users, toll-free -- not just to those whose institutions could afford the access-tolls (licenses).
And even that much I came to understand, sluggishly, only after I had first realized that what set apart the writings in question was not that they were (as I had first naively dubbed them) "esoteric" (i.e., they had few users) but that they were peer-reviewed research journal articles, written by researchers solely for impact, not for income.
But I don't think the differences between Ann and me can be set down to pragmatics vs. ideology. I too am far too often busy trying to free the growth of open access from the ideologues (publishing reformers, rights reformers (Ann's "open use" zealots), peer review reformers, freedom of information reformers) who are slowing the progress (from "now" to "better") of access to peer-reviewed journal articles by insisting only and immediately on what they believe is the "best." Like Ann, I, too, am all pragmatics (repository software, analyses of the OA impact advantage, mandates, analyses of mandate effeciveness).
So Ann just seems to have a different sense of what can (hence should) be done, now, to maximize access, and how (as well as how fast). And after her initial, infectious inclination toward toll-free access (which I and others caught from her) she has apparently concluded that what is needed is to modify the terms of the tolls (i.e., licensing).
This is well-illustrated by Ann's view on SCOAP3: "All it takes is for libraries to agree that what they’ve now paid as subscription fees for those journals will be paid instead to CERN, who will in turn pay to the publishers as subsidy for APCs."
I must alas disagree with this view, on entirely pragmatic -- indeed logical -- grounds: the transition from annual institutional subscription fees to annual consortial OA publication fees is an incoherent, unscalable, unsustainable Escherian scheme that contains the seeds of its own dissolution, rather than a pragmatic means of reaching a stable "asymptote": Worldwide, across all disciplines, there are P institutions, Q journals, and R authors, publishing S articles per year. The only relevant item is the article. The annual consortial licensing model -- reminiscent of the Big Deal -- is tantamount to a global oligopoly and does not scale (beyond CERN!).
So if SCOAP3 is the pragmatic basis for Ann's "predict[ion that] we’ll see such journals evolve into something more like 'full traditional OA' before too much longer" then one has some practical basis for scepticism -- a scepticism Ann shares when it comes to "hybrid Gold" OA journals -- unless of course such a transition to Fool's Gold is both mandated and funded by governments, as the UK and Netherlands governments have lately proposed, under the influence of their publishing lobbies! But the globalization of such profligate folly seems unlikely on the most pragmatic grounds of all: affordability. (The scope for remedying world hunger, disease or injustice that way are marginally better -- and McDonalds would no doubt be interested in such a yearly global consortial pre-payment deal for their Big Macs too…)
I also disagree (pragmatically) with Ann's apparent conflation of the access problem for journal articles with the access problem for books. (It's the inadequacy of the "esoteric" criterion again. Many book authors -- hardly pragmatists -- still dream of sales & riches, and fear that free online access would thwart these dreams, driving away the prestigious publishers whose imprimaturs distinguish their work from vanity press.)
Pragmatically speaking, OA to articles has already proved slow enough in coming, and has turned out to require mandates to induce and embolden authors to make their articles OA. But for articles, at least, there is author consensus that OA is desirable, hence there is the motivation to comply with OA mandates from authors' institutions and funders. Books, still a mixed bag, will have to wait. Meanwhile, no one is stopping those book authors who want to make their books free online from picking publishers who agree…
And there are plenty of pragmatic reasons why the librarian-obsession -- perhaps not ideological, but something along the same lines -- with the Version-of-Record is misplaced when it comes to access to journal articles: The author's final, peer-reviewed, accepted draft means the difference between night and day for would-be users whose institutions cannot afford toll-access to the publisher's proprietary VoR.
And for the time being the toll-access VoR is safe [modulo the general digital-preservation problem, which is not an OA problem], while subscription licenses are being paid by those who can afford them. CHORUS and SHARE have plenty of pragmatic advantages for publishers (and ideological ones for librarians), but they are vastly outweighed by their practical disadvantages for research and researchers -- of which the biggest is that they leave access-provision in the hands of publishers (and their licensing conditions).
About the Marie-Antoinette option for the developing world -- R4L -- the less said, the better. The pragmatics really boil down to time: the access needs of both the developing and the developed world are pressing. Partial and makeshift solutions are better than nothing, now. But it's been "now" for an awfully long time; and time is not an ideological but a pragmatic matter; so is lost research usage and impact.
Ann says: "Here’s the fondest hope of the pragmatic OA advocate: that we settle on a series of business practices that truly make the greatest possible collection of high-value material accessible to the broadest possible audience at the lowest possible cost — not just lowest cost to end users, but lowest cost to all of us."
Here's a slight variant, by another pragmatic OA advocate: "that we settle on a series of research community policies that truly make the greatest possible collection of peer-reviewed journal articles accessible online free for all users, to the practical benefit of all of us."
The online medium has made this practically possible. The publishing industry -- pragmatists rather than ideologists -- will adapt to this new practical reality. Necessity is the Mother of Invention.
Let me close by suggesting that perhaps something Richard Poynder wrote is not quite correct either: He wrote "It was [the] affordability problem that created the accessibility problem that OA was intended to solve."
No, it was the creation of the online medium that made OA not only practically feasible (and optimal) for research and researchers, but inevitable. (See the opening words of the Budapest Open Access Initiative.) But Richard is probably right that it was affordability that (eventually) roused librarians -- first to consortial licensing, and then to OA.
Friday, September 13. 2013
Bo-Christer Björk & David Solomon (2013) The publishing delay in scholarly peer-reviewed journals. Journal of Informetrics (in press)Now it's time to put two and two together (and this pertains more to the lag between acceptance and publication: the timing of peer review and revision is another matter):Abstract: Publishing in scholarly peer reviewed journals usually entails long delays from submission to publication. In part this is due to the length of the peer review process and in part because of the dominating tradition of publication in issues, earlier a necessity of paper-based publishing, which creates backlogs of manuscripts waiting in line. The delays slow the dissemination of scholarship and can provide a significant burden on the academic careers of authors.
1. The research community is clamoring for access, particularly those who are denied access to articles in journals to which their institutions cannot afford to subscribe.This is why the Liege-model immediate-deposit mandate ( together with the repository-mediated request-sprint Button) -- now recommended by both HEFCE and BIS (as well as BOAI-10: 1.1 & 1.6 and the Harvard Open Access Project (HOAP)) -- is so important:
It makes it possible for researchers to request -- and authors to provide -- immediate access with one click each as soon as the final, refereed, revised draft is accepted for publication, irrespective of publication lags or publisher OA embargoes.
Sunday, May 26. 2013
Comment on Richard Poynder's "The UK’s Open Access Policy: Controversy Continues":
Yes, the Finch/RCUK policy has had its predictable perverse effects:
1. sustaining arbitrary, bloated Gold OA fees
2. wasting scarce research funds
3. double-paying publishers [subscriptions plus Gold]
4. handing subscription publishers a hybrid-gold-mine
5. enabling hybrid publishers to double-dip
6. abrogating authors' freedom of journal-choice [based on cost-recovery model, embargo or licence instead of on quality]
7. imposing re-mix licenses that many authors don't want and most users and fields don't need
8. inspiring subscription publishers to adopt and lengthen Green OA embargoes [to maxmize hybrid-gold revenues]
9. handicapping Green OA mandates worldwide [by incentivizing embargoes]
10. allowing journal-fleet publishers to confuse and exploit institutions and authors even more
But the solution is also there (as already adopted in Francophone Belgium and proposed by the UKèsHEFCE for REF):
a. funders and institutions mandate immediate-deposit
b. of the peer-reviewed final draft
c. in the author's institutional repository
d. immediately upon acceptance for publication
e. whether journal is subscription or Gold
f. whether access to the deposit is immedate-OA or embargoed
g. whether license is transfered, retained or CC-BY;
h. institutions implement repository's facilitated email eprint request Button;
i. institutions designate immediate-deposit the mechanism for submitting publications for research performance assessment;
j. institutions monitor and ensure immediate-deposit mandate compliance
This policy restores author choice, moots publisher embargoes, makes Gold and CC-BY completely optional, provides the incentive for author compliance and the natural institutional mechanism for verifying it, consolidates funder and institutional mandates; hastens the natural death of OA embargoes, the onset of universal Green OA, and the resultant institutional subscription cancellations, journal downsizing and transition to Fair-Gold OA at an affordable, sustainable price, paid out of institutional subscription cancellation savings instead of over-priced, double-paid, double-dipped Fool's-Gold. And of course Fair-Gold OA will license all the re-use rights users need and authors want to allow.
Tuesday, October 30. 2012
Jan Velterop wrote:
(1) Stevan trades off expected speed of achieving OA against quality of the resulting OA. It's his right to do that. I just point out that that's what it is. That's my right. He calls it 'deprecating green OA'; I prefer to call it 'comparing outcome'.
Green vs. Gold is not a question of rivalry, it's a question of priority.
The twin reasons why Green has to come first are very simple: (i) Gold OA journal publishing is vastly over-priced today and (ii) the money to pay for Gold OA (even if it is downsized to a fair, affordable price) is still locked into institutional journal subscriptions.
Green OA needs to come first in order to fix both these problems:
Over and above providing 100% OA (which is the primary objective of the OA movement), Green OA (which is now only at 25% when unmandated, but can be increased to 100% when mandated by institutions and funders) also provides the way both to (ii) release the subscription money to pay for Gold OA and to (ii) force journals to cut costs and downsize to a fair, affordable, sustainable price for Gold OA (namely, the price of managing peer review alone, as a per-review (sic) service: no more print edition; no more online edition; all access-provision and archiving offloaded onto the worldwide network of Green OA institutional repositories):
Institutions can only cancel subscriptions when the subscribed content is available as Green OA. Until then they can only double-pay (whether for hybrid subscription/Gold journals or for subscription journals plus Gold journals).
And publishers will not unbundle and cut costs to the minimum (peer review service alone, nothing else) until cancellations force them to do so.
And (before you say it): If a new Gold OA journal enters the market today with a truly rock-bottom price, for the peer-review service alone, the money to pay for it is still over and above what is being paid for subscriptions today, because the subscriptions cannot be cancelled until most journals (or at least the most important ones) likewise downsize to the bare essentials.
And most journals are not downsizing to the bare essentials.
And institutions and funders cannot make journals downsize.
All institutions and funders can do is pay them even more than what they are paying them already (which is exactly what the publisher lobby has managed to persuade the UK and the Finch Committee to do).
I do not call that a "parachute" toward a "soft landing": I call it good publisher PR, to preserve their bottom-lines. And for most institutions and funders, it not only costs more money, but it is even more unaffordable and unsustainable than the serials status-quo today (which is reputedly in crisis).
The promise from hybrid Gold publishers to cut subscription costs in proportion to growth in Gold uptake revenues, even if kept, is unaffordable, because it involves first paying more, in advance; and all it does is lock in the current status quo insofar as total publisher revenue is concerned, in exchange for OA that researchers can already provide for themselves via Green, since publication and its costs are already being fully paid for -- via subscriptions.
Nor is "price competition" the corrective: Authors don't pick journals for their price but for their quality standards, which means their peer-review standards. It would be nothing short of grotesque to imagine that it should be otherwise (think about it!).
The corrective is global Green OA mandates: That -- and not "price competition" between Gold OA journals -- will see to it that the huge, unnecessary overlay of commercially co-bundled products and services that scholarly journal publishing inherited from the Gutenberg (and Robert-Maxwell) era is phased out and scaled down, at long last, to the only thing that scholars and scientists really still want and need in the online era, which is a reliable peer review service, provided by a hierarchy of journals, in different fields, each with its own established track record for quality -- hence selectivity -- at the various quality levels required by the field.
So what's at issue is not a trade-off of "speed" vs. "quality" (whether peer review quality, or re-use/text-mining rights) at all, but a trade-off of speed vs. the status quo.
And yes, that's speed, in the first instance, toward 100% free online access (Gratis OA) -- of which, let us remind ourselves, we currently have only about 25% via Green and maybe another 12% via Gold -- because that is what is within immediate reach (although we have kept failing to grasp it for over a decade).
The rest of the "quality" -- Gold OA and Libre OA -- will come once we have 100% Green OA, and publishers are forced (by Green-OA enabled subscription cancelations, making subscriptions no loner sustainable) to downsize and convert to Gold.
But not if we keep playing the snail's-pace game of double-paying pre-emptively for Gold while research access and impact keeping being lost, year upon year -- all in order to cushion the landing for the only ones that are comfortable with the status quo (and in no hurry!): toll-access publishers.
And please let's stop solemnly invoking the BOAI as a justification for continuing this no-sum, no-win game of no-OA unless you double-pay.
Publication costs are being paid, in full (and fulsomely) today. What's missing is not more revenue for publishers, but OA.
And Green OA mandates will provide it.
The rest will take care of itself, as a natural process of adaptation, by the publishing trade, to the new reality of global Green OA.
Tuesday, October 23. 2012
Eric Van de Velde: "Green Open Access delivers the immediate benefit of access. Proponents argue it will also, over time, fundamentally change the scholarly-communication market. The twenty-year HEP record lends support to the belief that Green Open Access has a moderating influence: HEP journals are priced at more reasonable levels than other disciplines. However, the HEP record thus far does not support the notion that Green Open Access creates significant change…"Twenty years of Open Access in HEP is not a significant change?
Eric Van de Velde: "If SCOAP³ proves sustainable, it will become the de-facto sponsor and manager of all HEP publishing world-wide. It will create a barrier-free open-access system of refereed articles produced by professional publishers. This is an improvement over arXiv, which contains mostly author-formatted material."Committing a worldwide institutional consortium into paying roughly the same as what it's paying now, in exchange for OA to publisher PDF instead of author versions?
"Those who observe with scientific detachment merely note that, after twenty years of 100% Green Open Access, the HEP establishment really wants Gold Open Access."
With still more detachment, it sounds as if HEP researchers really wanted -- and gave themselves-- a barrier-free open-access system of refereed articles 20 years ago.
The ones that seems to "really want" Gold OA are a consortium of institutional libraries…
Have patience. HEP researchers provided Green OA unmandated. Once the rest of the world's researchers provide Green OA in response to mandates from their institutions and funders, the "market" changes many desire will follow:
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. So 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.
And, yes, SCOAP3 is indeed pointless pre-emptive lock-in of the status quo (engineered by some academics and some libraries -- certainly not by "academia") in a field (HEP) that already has Green OA, unmandated, and could instead be doing so much more to support and promote mandated Green OA in all other disciplines.
But it's still far from over. Green OA mandates are imminent in the EU, Australia, and perhaps at long last in the US. And RCUK may still fix its policy into a workable one, despite the Finch Fiasco.
Green OA does not change the market, directly -- and certainly not until it's universal. But universal Green OA will certainly make journal affordability no longer the life-or-death matter it is now. (Think about it.)
Wednesday, September 26. 2012
1. High Energy Physics (HEP) already has close to 100% Open Access (OA): Authors have been self-archiving their articles in Arxiv (both before and after peer review) since 1991 ("Green OA").
2. Hence SCOAP3 is just substituting the payment of consortial "membership" fees for publishing outgoing articles in place of the payment of individual institutional subscription fees for accessing incoming articles in exchange for an OA from its publisher ("Gold OA") that HEP already had from self-archiving (Green OA).
3. As such, SCOAP3 is just a consortial subscription price agreement, except that it is inherently unstable, because once all journal content is Gold OA, non-members are free-riders, and members can cancel if they feel a budget crunch.
4. Nor does membership scale to other disciplines.
5. High Energy Physics would have done global Open Access a better service if it had put its full weight behind promoting (Green OA) mandates to self-archive by institutions and research funders in all other disciplines.
6. The time to convert to Gold OA is when mandatory Green OA prevails globally across all disciplines and institutions.
7. Institutions can then cancel subscriptions and pay for peer review service alone, per individual paper, out of a portion of their windfall cancelation savings, instead of en bloc, in an unstable (and overpriced) consortial "membership."
Wednesday, August 1. 2012
Jan Velterop, OA advocate, wrote in The Parachute:"The 'sin' that RCUK, Finch and the Wellcome Trust committed is that they didn't formulate their policies according to strict Harnadian orthodoxy. It's not that they forbid Harnadian OA (a.k.a. 'green'). It is that they see the 'gold' route to OA as worthy of support as well. Harnad, as arbiter of Harnadian OA (he has acolytes), would like to see funder and institutional OA policies focus entirely and only on Harnadian OA, and would want them, to all intents and purposed, forbid the 'gold' route... It is the equivalent of opening the parachute only a split second before hitting the ground. "
"In general I'm with Stevan on this. The RCUK policy and the Finch recommendations fail to take good advantage of green OA. Like Stevan, I initially overestimated the role of green in the RCUK policy, but in conversation with the RCUK have come to a better understanding. In various blog posts since the two documents were released, I've criticized the under-reliance on green. I'm doing so again, more formally, in a forthcoming editorial in a major journal. I'm also writing up my views at greater length for the September issue of my newsletter (SPARC Open Access Newsletter).Stevan Harnad:
"If the UK first... — clearly and unambiguously mandates Green OA for all UK research output — then it is welcome to throw all the cash it has to spare on also subsidizing Gold OA if it so wishes. --- But not instead."Finch on Green:The crucial contingency, and the one that caused all the confusion about whether or not RCUK is truly continuing "to support a mixed approach" is that if a journal offers Gold, RCUK fundees must choose Gold. If so, the only thing that any subscription journal needs to do to ensure that RCUK authors cannot choose Green (and hence must pay for Gold) is to offer hybrid Gold."The [Green OA] policies of neither research funders nor universities themselves have yet had a major effect in ensuring that researchers make their publications accessible in institutional repositories… [so] the infrastructure of subject and institutional repositories should [instead] be developed [to] play a valuable role complementary to formal publishing, particularly in providing access to research data and to grey literature, and in digital preservation [no mention of Green OA]…"
That's the contingency that needs to be clearly and unambiguously dropped in order to fix the RCUK OA mandate and bring it into line with the EC mandate, as well as the adopted and planned OA mandates in the US.
Swan & Houghton's 2012 executive summary (as excerpted by Peter Suber in "Transition to green OA significantly less expensive than transition to gold OA" ):
"Based on this analysis, the main findings are:  so long as research funders commit to paying publication costs for the research they fund, and  publication charges fall to the reprint author’s home institution,  all universities would see savings from (worldwide) Gold OA when article-processing charges are at the current averages,  research-intensive universities would see the greatest savings, and  in a transition period, providing Open Access through the Green route offers the greatest economic benefits to individual universities, unless additional funds are made available to cover Gold OA costs....[F]or all the sample universities during a transition period when subscriptions are maintained, the cost of adopting Green OA is much lower than the cost of Gold OA - with Green OA self-archiving costing institutions around one-fifth the amount that Gold OA might cost, and as little as one-tenth as much for the most research intensive university sampled. In a transition period, providing OA through the Green route would have substantial economic benefits for universities, unless additional funds were released for Gold OA, beyond those already available through the Research Councils and the Wellcome Trust...."Swan, Alma & Houghton, John (2012) Going for Gold? The costs and benefits of Gold Open Access for UK research institutions: further economic modelling. Report to the UK Open Access Implementation Group. JISC Information Environment Repository.
Wednesday, July 11. 2012
The biggest risk from Gold OA (publishing) (and it's already a reality) is that it will get in the way of the growth of Green OA (self-archiving), and hence the growth of OA itself. That's Gold Fever: Most people assume that OA means Gold OA, and don't realize that the fastest, surest and (extra-)cost-free way to 100% OA is to provide (and mandate) Green OA.
The second biggest risk (likewise already a reality, if the Finch Follies are Followed) is that Gold Fever makes sluggish, gullible researchers, their funders, their governments and even their poor impecunious universities get lured into paying for pre-emptive Gold OA (while still paying for subscriptions) instead of providing and mandating Green OA at no extra cost.
The risk of creating a market for junk Gold OA journals is only the third of the Gold OA risk factors (but it's already a reality too).
Gold OA's time will come. But it is not now. A proof of principle was fine, to refute the canard that peer review is only possible on the subscription model.
But paying for pre-emptive Gold OA now, instead of mandating and providing Green OA globally first will turn out to be one of the more foolish things our sapient species has done to date (though by far not the worst).
Harnad, S., Brody, T., Vallieres, F., Carr, L., Hitchcock, S., Gingras, Y, Oppenheim, C., Stamerjohanns, H., & Hilf, E. (2004) The green and the gold roads to Open Access. Nature Web Focus.
Thursday, August 11. 2011
Re: "Research intelligence - 'We all aspire to universal access'" Times Higher Education 11 August 2011
The publishing community can afford to be leisurely about how long it takes for open access (OA) to reach 100% (it's 10% now for Gold OA publishing, plus another 20% for Green OA self-archiving). But the research community need not be so leisurely about it. Research articles no longer need to be accessible only to those researchers whose institution can afford to subscribe to the journal in which it was published, rather than to all researchers who want to use, apply and build upon it. Lost research access means lost research progress. Research is funded, conducted and published for the sake of research progress and its public benefits, not in order to provide revenue to the publishing industry, nor to sustain the subscription model of cost-recovery.
The publishing community is understandably "wary" about Green OA self-archiving, mindful of its subscription revenue streams. But the transition to Green OA self-archiving, unlike the transition to Gold OA publishing, is entirely in the hands of the research community, which need not wait passively for the "market" to shift to Gold OA publishing: Springer publishers' projections suggest that at its current growth rate Gold OA will not reach 100% till the year 2029.
The research community need not wait, because it is itself the universal provider of all the published research, and its institutions and funders can mandate (i.e., require) that their authors self-archive their peer-reviewed final drafts (not the publishers' version of record) in their institutional Green OA repositories immediately upon acceptance for publication. And a growing number of funders and institutions (including all the UK funding councils, the ERC, EU and NIH in the US, as well as University College London, Harvard and MIT) are doing just that.
Green OA self-archiving mandates generate 60% OA within two years of adoption, and climb toward 100% within a few years thereafter. The earliest mandates (U. Southampton School of Electrons and Computer Science, 2003, and CERN, 2004 are already at or near 100% Green OA.
Harnad, S. (2011) Gold Open Access Publishing Must Not Be Allowed to Retard the Progress of Green Open Access Self-Archiving. Logos 21(3-4): 86-93 /
Tuesday, June 22. 2010
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.
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