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Wednesday, April 20. 2016
[This comment was written before I read Richard Poynder's Interview of Tim Gowers. In part 2 I comment after having read the posting.]
I don't know about Richard, but I have not despaired of green, or green mandates; I've just grown tired of waiting.
I don't see pre-emptive gold (i.e., pre-green "fool's gold") as an alternative but as just another delay factor, the principal delay factor being human sluggishness.
And I think the notion of a "flip" to fool's gold is incoherent -- an "evolutionary unstable strategy," bound to undo itself: not only because it requires self-sacrificial double-payment locally as well as unrealistic collaboration among nations, institutions, funders, fields and publishers globally, but because the day after it was miraculously (and hypothetically) attained globally it would immediately invite defection (from nations, institutions, funders, and fields) to save money (invasion by the "cheater strategy"). Subscriptions and gold OA "memberships" are simply incommensurable, let alone transformable from one into the other. (Memberships are absurd, and only sell -- a bit, locally -- while subscriptions still prevail, via local Big Deals.
The only evolutionarily stable strategy is offloading onto green OA repositories all but one of the things that publishers traditionally do, leaving only the service of peer review to be paid for as fair-gold OA.
But that requires universal green OA first, not flipped pre-emptive fool's gold.
It will all eventually sort itself out that way after a huge series of false-starts. My loss of patience is not just with the needless loss of time but with the boringly repetitious nature of the recurrent false starts. I'd say my last five years, at the very least, have been spent just repeating myself in the face of the very same naive bright-eyed, bushy-tailed and non-viable non-starters. Locally in space and time, some people sometimes listened to my objections and my alternative strategy, but globally the very same non-starters kept popping up, one after the other, independently.
So (with an occasional exception like this) I've stopped preaching. Time will either show that I was wrong or, like evolution, it will undo the maladaptive strategies and stumble blindly, but inevitably toward the stable strategy (which also happens to be the optimal one): universal green first, then a rapid downsizing and transition to scalable, affordable, sustainable fair-gold. Amen.
1. Publisher green OA embargoes are ineffectual against the right green OA mandate: immediate deposit plus the almost-OA Button
2. That a “self-styled archivangelist” has left the arena is neither news nor an OA development. It is indeed just symbolic.
3. The fool's gold "flip" is an evolutionarily unstable strategy, fated to flop, despite the fond hopes RCUK, Wellcome, VSNU or MPG.
4. The "impact factor" is, as ever, utterly irrelevant to OA, one way or the other. Metrics will only be diversified and enriched by OA.
5. An immediate-deposit requirement is not an "onerous bureaucratic rule" but a few extra keystrokes per paper published: a no-brainer. Researchers are not "foot-soldiers" but finger-soldiers, and the immediate-deposit mandate is just intended to set those last few digits into motion (the publish-or-perish mandate having already mobilized the legions ahead of it).
6. Leaders are welcome (if not Wellcome), but boycotts are busts (and there have been plenty).
7. Exposés of publisher profiteering are welcome, but not solutions. In any case, the root problem is not affordability but accessibility, and providing access (via green OA) is also the solution, first to accessibility and then, as a natural matter of course, to affordability (post-green fair-gold).
8. Founding a new gold OA journal is hardly new. Offloading everything but peer review onto green repositories is also not new (in fact it will be part of the post-green end-game: fair-gold). But making it scalable and sustainable pre-emptiively would be new...
9. Subsidizing fair-gold costs would be fine, if someone had the resources to subsidize at least 30,000 journals across all disciplines. But while journals are being sustained by subscriptions, and there is no alternative way to access the contents, there is unlikely to be enough subsidy money to do the job. (Universally mandated green, in contrast, would allow journal subscriptions to be cancelled, releasing the money to pay for fair-gold out of just a fraction of the windfall savings.)
10. The impact factor, it cannot be repeated often enough, is absolutely irrelevant to (green) OA. The known track-record of journals, in contrast, will always be a factor.
11. Open "peer" review, or crowd-sourced quality control, likewise a notion aired many times, is, IMHO, likewise a non-starter. Suitable for peddling products and blog postings, but not for cancer cures and serious science or scholarship. (That said, anyone is everyone is already free to post their unrefereed work for all comers; that's what blogs and open commentary are for...)
12. Open online collaboration is very welcome (and more and more widespread) but it is a supplement, not a substitute, for publishing peer-reviewed findings.
13. Mathematics and, to a lesser extent, physics, are manifestly atypical fields in that their practitioners are (1) more willing than others to make their own unrefereed findings public and (2) eager to see and use the unrefereed findings of others. If this had been true of other fields, Arxiv would long ago have become the global unrefereed preprints and refereed postrprint repository for all fields, universal (central) green OA would already have been reached long ago, and the transition to fair gold would already have taken place. (Arxiv has been held up -- including, for a while, by me -- as the way to go since 1991. But things have not gone that way. That's why I switched to promoting distributed institutional repositories.)
14. What if the "P" in APCs -- for those who are "imPlacably opposed" to article processing charges -- stood instead for Peer-Review, and paid only for the editorial expertise in the refereeing (the peers review for free): selecting referees, selecting which referee recommendations need to be followed, selecting which revisions have done so and are hence accepted. These are the sole costs of fair gold -- but they are predicated on universal green to "overlay" on...
15. The two crucial features of peer review are expertise and answerability. This is what is provided by a qualified editor and established journal and absent in self-selected, crowd-sourced, take-it-or-leave-it vetting (already proposed many times, including by another distinguished mathematician). "Fair OA" is synonymous with fair gold, but universal green is the only viable way to get there.
16. Open peer commentary is a fine idea (if I do say so myself) but it is a supplement to peer review, not a substitute for it.
...And let's get our figures straight
Rick Anderson posted the following comment on Richard Poynder's posting in google+: “Institutional Green OA mandates (as distinct from non-mandatory OA policies) are effectively nonexistent in the US, and it's difficult to see how they could ever become widespread at the institutional level. That's just the US, of course, but the US produces an awful lot of research publication.”
According to ROARMAP, which was recently upgraded to expand, classify and verify the entries, although it is probably not yet exhaustive (some mandates may not yet be registered) there are 764 OA policies worlwide, at least 629 of them Green (i.e., they either or request deposit)
The following are the total(subset) figures broken down by country for
total policies and the subset requiring - not requesting - deposit
for Institional and Funder policies.
Inst 632 (390)
Fund 132 (82)
Inst 96 (69)
Fund 34 (11)
Inst: 93 (79)
Fund 24 (23)
Inst 26 (2)
Fund 1 (0)
Inst 11 (6)
Inst 17 (3)
Fund 3 (3)
Inst 15 (7)
Fund 12 (9)
Inst 31 (15)
Fund 2 (2)
Rick Anderson: Happy to provide examples.
Stevan Harnad: The Harvard FAS OA Policy model (which may or may not have been adopted by the other institutions you cite without their fully understanding its conditions) is that:
(1) Full-text deposit is required
(2) Rights-retention (and OA) may be waived on an individual article basis
The deposit requirement (1) cannot be waived, and is not waived if the author elects to waive (2).
This is the policy that Peter calls "dual deposit/release" (and I call immediate-deposit/optional-access, ID/OA):
(soton site temporarily down today, apologies)
Rick Anderson: Stevan, your characterisation of the Harvard policy seems to me to be simply inaccurate. The full text may be read at https://osc.hul.harvard.edu/policies/fas/. The relevant sentence reads as follows: "The Dean or the Dean's designate will waive application of the policy for a particular article upon written request by a Faculty member explaining the need." This language seems pretty clearly to me to refer to the policy as a whole, not just one component of it -- nor does the policy itself include an OA requirement; instead it provides the possibility that "the Provost's Office may make the article available to the public in an open-access repository" (note the word "may," not usually a prominent feature in mandatory instructions).
Peter Suber: Stevan's restatement of the Harvard policy is correct. Our waiver option only applies to the license, not to the deposit.
Rick Anderson: OK, thanks for clearing that up, Peter. (You guys might want to consider revising the wording of your policy to resolve the ambiguity.)
Stevan Harnad: The other three policies you cited seem to have adopted the Harvard model policy. If they have diverged from it, they need to indicate that explicitly (and unambiguously). ROARMAP incorporates updates of corrections when it receives them. The ones you mention were either registered by the institutions themselves or derived from their documentation and sent to them for vetting.
I cannot vouch for 100% compliance or accuracy. But your assertion was not about that. Your assertion was “Institutional Green OA mandates (as distinct from non-mandatory OA policies) are effectively nonexistent in the US."
Do you think your four examples show that? One out of the four, Harvard FAS, would already disconfirm "nonexistent" ("effectively" being a weasel-word) even without the added fact that Harvard is not just any university, and the one whose model many US universities have adopted. And even if you could show (as you certainly have not done) that not one of the remaining 65 US institutional mandates (out of the total 96 US institutional OA policies in ROARMAP) was a mandate. Do you disagree?
Rick Anderson: All of the examples I provided (including the Harvard example) constitute evidence in support of my statement, since they are instances in which Green OA is not mandatory. They don't constitute the entire evidence base. I made my statement based on the fact that I have read many OA policies from US institutions, and I have not yet encountered (nor heard of) a single one that requires faculty to make their work available on an OA basis. A policy that requires deposit but does not require OA is not a mandatory OA policy.
Stevan Harnad: I would like to avoid empty semiological quibbling. The US has 96 institutional OA policies. That is uncontested. Of these, 69 are registered as deposit mandates, hence mandates.
There are many other conditions (such as whether and when it is mandatory to make the deposit OA), but it may be helpful to understand that the reason mandatory (full-text) deposit is the crucial requirement is that if (and only if) the full-text is deposited, the repository's automated copy-request Button (if and when implemented) can provide almost-immediate, almost-OA to any user who clicks it (if the author too chooses to comply, with a click).
The hypothesis (and it is indeed a hypothesis, not a certainty) is that this compromise mandate (DD/R, ID/OA), if universally adopted, will not only provide almost 100% Green OA, but will prove sufficient to eventually make subscriptions cancellable, thereby inducing journal publisher downsizing, the phasing out of obsolete products and services, and a transition to affordable, scalable and sustainable Fair-Gold OA, charging for peer-review alone, and paid for out of a fraction of the institutional subscription cancellation savings, instead of the over-priced, double-paid, and unnecessary Fool's Gold that is on offer now, paid for out of already over-stretched subscription as well as research funds.
Thursday, April 14. 2016
Comment on: Enserink, Martin (2016) E.U. urged to free all scientific papers by 2020. Science 14 April 2016.
Fool’s Gold is pre-Green Gold (pay-to-publish Gold: I’m not, of course, referring to that tiny minority of journals that are Free Gold today because they are either (i) subsidized or (ii) their subscription publisher makes the online version free for all).
The reasons it is Fool’s Gold are four:
(1) its cost is vastly inflated with the cost of obsolete features with which it is co-bundled, such as the print edition and publisher PDF,
(2) as long as most journals are still subscription journals, the author’s institution is paying for both subscriptions and for Fool’s Gold,
(3) in the case of (the growing number of) hybrid subscription/Gold journals (accessible to subscribers only, but individual Fool’s Gold articles are free for all if they have been paid for by the author) the same publisher is being double-paid for Fool’s Gold articles (subscriptions from subscribing institutions plus Fool’s Gold from individual authors)
and, most important:
(4) OA can be provided at no extra cost to anyone via Green OA self-archiving of the author's peer-reviewed, accepted final draft (with immediate OA or immediate-deposit plus Button-mediated OA if the author chooses to comply with a publisher OA embargo)
Fair Gold is post-green Gold: That is the greatly reduced price of Gold after Green OA has been globally mandated (along the lines of what the HEFCE REF policy is doing):
(a) Immediate deposit in the institutional repository is mandated by all research institutions and funders
(b) Mandatory Green OA is provided universally
(c) Journal subscriptions can then be cancelled by institutions
(d) Journals are then forced to cut all obsolete costs by phasing out the print edition, the PDF edition (the publisher's "version of record"), archiving and access-provision and down-sizing to the only remaining essential in the Fair Gold OA era: just providing the service of peer review (the peers all review for free and always have_
(e) The green eprint becomes the version of record
The cost of this Fair Gold, which is just for peer review and, if accepted, certification with the journal name, will thus be affordable and sustainable (hence fair) because it can be paid out of just a fraction of the annual institutional windfall savings from having at last been able to cancel all journal subscriptions because of universal accessibility via Green OA.
The institutionally archived Green OA author final-drafts then become the official version of record. No more publisher’s version.
Harnad, S. (2010) No-Fault Peer Review Charges: The Price of Selectivity Need Not Be Access Denied or Delayed. D-Lib Magazine 16 (7/8)
Harnad, S (2014) The only way to make inflated journal subscriptions unsustainable: Mandate Green Open Access. LSE Impact of Social Sciences Blog 4/28
Sale, A., Couture, M., Rodrigues, E., Carr, L. and Harnad, S. (2014) Open Access Mandates and the "Fair Dealing" Button. In: Dynamic Fair Dealing: Creating Canadian Culture Online (Rosemary J. Coombe & Darren Wershler, Eds.)
Harnad, Stevan (2015) Open Access: What, Where, When, How and Why In: Ethics, Science, Technology, and Engineering: An International Resource eds. J. Britt Holbrook & Carl Mitcham, (2nd edition of Encyclopedia of Science, Technology, and Ethics, Farmington Hills MI: MacMillan Reference)
Harnad, Stevan (2015) Optimizing Open Access Policy. The Serials Librarian, 69(2), 133-141
Tuesday, July 7. 2015
Sander Dekker, Netherlands’ State Secretary for the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science wants Open Access and has set some deadlines for how soon he wants it for Netherlands. That’s fine.
But the Netherlands' Sander Dekker, like the UK's Finch Committee, wants Gold Open Access.
That means Universities must pay Elsevier’s asking price for Gold OA.
Elsevier’s asking price is a price per article that will maintain Elsevier's current total net subscription revenue.
Elsevier’s current total net subscription revenue is enormously bloated — not only by huge profit margins (c. 40%) but by obsolete product and service costs forcibly co-bundled into the price (print edition, online edition, access-provision, archiving).
The Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU) has a consortial Big Deal subscription with Elsevier, and they have said they will continue to pay it if Netherlands authors can have Gold OA for their articles at no extra charge.
This is basically trying to transform a bloated subscription deal into a bloated Gold OA membership deal, rather like SCOAP3.
The reasons this transformation cannot work globally are many, but locally it can be made to work, for a while, by fiat, if VSNU collaborate and Elsevier agrees.
And on the surface it is not obvious why Elsevier would not agree, since it looks as if the deal would give Elsevier exactly what it wants: current revenue levels per Elsevier article will be maintained, but with the Netherlands paying its share not as subscriptions but as memberships, in exchange for Gold OA for Elsevier articles by Netherlands authors.
But what about the rest of the world? They continue paying subscriptions — not just to Elsevier, but to all other publishers. And VSNU, too, must continue paying subscriptions to all other publishers whose journals Netherlands users need.
Would this local Netherlands solution be stable, sustainable and scalable?
The answer is that it would be none of these -- and Elsevier knows that perfectly well. And that explains why they are not eager to make this local Gold membership deal with VSNU (even though Springer has been trying to encourage the consortial Gold membership model for its subscribers) -- and why VSNU is contemplating asking Elsevier editors at Netherlands institutions (and eventually all Elsevier authors in Netherlands) to boycott Elsevier unless Elsevier makes this transition to Gold
A Gold consortial membership model is unstable, unsustainable and unscalable because memberships, like subscriptions, are locally cancellable -- by an institution or a country -- and because there are other (competing) publishers in the world.
And membership would be unstable and unsustainable even if the scalability problem could be magically surmounted by a global “flip” in which all institutions on the planet and all publishers on the planet solemnly agree jointly to go from their current subscriptions to Gold OA memberships for all their journals with all their publishers at their current subscription price all on the same day.
The very next day the system would destabilize, with cash-strapped institutions cancelling their “memberships” to journals that their users needed to use but in which their authors published little, preferring instead to pay for publishing by the piece for the few articles they publish in them.
This would in turn destabilize the sustainability of yesterday’s subscription revenue streams via memberships, which would mean that membership fees would have to increase for the non-defecting institutions to sustain all publishers' net revenue, which would in turn mean that institutions would be paying more for memberships than they had been paying for subscriptions.
And the Global Consortial Gold Membership Deal (which is in reality a global producer oligopoly sustained by a global consumer consortium) would begin unravelling the moment it was “flipped.”
Trying instead to get there more gradually, institution by institution, publisher by publisher, journal by journal rather than via a miraculous global “flip” instead destabilizes the scalability of the Gold membership model rather than just its sustainability. Institutions as well as publishers would be participating in a multi-player prisoner's dilemma, with defection always being the optimal choice.
But this is also the relevant point to recall that there is another way to give and get OA, namely, Green OA self-archiving:
For institutions struggling with bloated, unaffordable journal subscription prices, the far more natural route is to reduce subscriptions to just their users' must-have journals and to mandate Green OA, in their own institutional repositories, for their own publication output, rather than to lock themselves into increasingly unaffordable subscriptions in the form of membership fees in exchange for Gold OA for their own institutional publication output.
This, of course, is exactly why publishers are trying so hard to embargo Green OA: Not because the survival of refereed journals is at stake but in order to hold publication hostage to either current bloated subscriptions or bloated Gold OA fees that sustain the same net revenue either way they are paid.
That way the bloated asking price price will never go down and the costs of the obsolete products and services can continue to be forcibly co-bundled into the asking price.
But publishers know perfectly well that they are fighting a battle that they will ultimately lose, and that all they are doing now is whatever they can to sustain their current revenue levels as long as possible, with the vague hope that piece-wise Gold OA fees might continue to sustain the bloat as unstable, unscalable and unsustainable consortial "memberships" could not.
So publishers continue conning the likes of Sander Dekker into believing that today's bloated Fool's Gold OA is the only way to have OA, and that Green OA would destroy journals altogether, so it must be embargoed.
And VSNU thinks it is fighting the good fight by threatening another boycott against Elsevier unless they agree to Fool's Gold consortial OA membership for the Netherlands.
A stable, scalable, sustainable solution, of course, is within reach, through a transition to affordable, unbloated Fair Gold induced by first universally mandating and providing Green OA (there is even an antidote for publishers' embargoes on Green OA) -- but neither Sander Dekker nor VSNU are grasping it.
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).
______ (2013) The Postgutenberg Open Access Journal (revised). In, Cope, B and Phillips, A (eds.) The Future of the Academic Journal (2nd edition). 2nd edition of book Chandos.
______ (2014) The only way to make inflated journal subscriptions unsustainable: Mandate Green Open Access. LSE Impact of Social Sciences Blog 4/28
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).
Sale, A., Couture, M., Rodrigues, E., Carr, L. and Harnad, S. (2014) Open Access Mandates and the "Fair Dealing" Button. In: Dynamic Fair Dealing: Creating Canadian Culture Online (Rosemary J. Coombe & Darren Wershler, Eds.)
Swan, Alma; Gargouri, Yassine; Hunt, Megan; & Harnad, Stevan (2015) Open Access Policy: Numbers, Analysis, Effectiveness. Pasteur4OA Workpackage 3 Report.
Vincent-Lamarre, Philippe, Boivin, Jade, Gargouri, Yassine, Larivière, Vincent and Harnad, Stevan (2015) Estimating Open Access Mandate Effectiveness: I. The MELIBEA Score JASIST, in press.
Thursday, January 8. 2015
It would be a lot better if the Netherlands adopted a policy requiring Dutch researchers to make their published research OA rather than fussing about publishing costs and the costs of OA publishing.
Harnad, S (2014) The only way to make inflated journal subscriptions unsustainable: Mandate Green Open Access. LSE Impact of Social Sciences Blog 4/28
Wednesday, March 5. 2014
Wouter Gerritsma, wrote in GOAL:
"For two working groups of the Dutch University libraries I was asked to make a calculation for the costs of a 100% Gold open access model. It will only costs 10.5 million euro extra was my conclusion. Blogged at http://wowter.net/2014/03/05/costs-going-gold-netherlands/"Unless I have misunderstand, this "10.5 million euro extra” for Dutch University Libraries means 10.5 million euro extra over and above what Dutch University Libraries are paying for subscriptions (34 million euros).
In other words, for a surcharge of 10.5 million dollars, Dutch University libraries can purchase gold OA for Dutch research output (assuming that suitable gold OA journals exist for all Dutch research output, and that all Dutch researchers are willing to publish in them).
But, at the same time, Dutch University libraries also have to continue to pay to subscribe to the research input from all other universities and research institutions worldwide, as long as the latter publish in subscription-based journals rather than gold OA journals (or are unwilling or unable to pay for gold OA).
This pre-emptive double-payment for gold OA I have come to call “Fool’s Gold."
What is being left out of this calculation, of course, is that the Netherlands, like all countries, can have OA at no extra cost at all by mandating green OA self-archiving of all of its research output in Dutch universities’ institutional repositories.
In other words, Wouter's calculations sound like a response to Sander Dekker's Dutch echo of the UK Finch Committee recommendations to pay extra for gold OA instead of just mandating green OA.
Such recommendations originate, not coincidentally, from the two countries with the heaviest concentration of the journal publishing industry, and hence the journal publishing industry lobby, as repeatedly voiced in the Netherlands by Sander Dekker, Netherlands State Secretary for the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science.
All the published objections to the Finch recommendations would apply to Dekker’s Dutch recommendations if they were ever to become a policy (mandate). Fortunately they are not mandatory and can and should be ignored in favor of mandating green OA, as the European Commission has done. The UK mandate will also (it is to be hoped) shortly shored up with an immediate-deposit requirement from HEFCE.
To understand why green OA needs to be mandated first, and how it will first provide OA, and then make subscriptions unsustainable, inducing publishers to cut costs and convert to Fair Gold OA at an affordable, sustainable price by offloading all archiving and access provision onto the worldwide network of mandatory green OA institutional repositories, see:
Harnad, S. (2010) No-Fault Peer Review Charges: The Price of Selectivity Need Not Be Access Denied or Delayed. D-Lib Magazine 16 (7/8).
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).
Wouter Gerritsma replied:
Yes, of course I knew that you were only the messenger, and doing the calculation! It is the pressure from Sander Dekker (or, rather, from those who are putting the pressure on Sander Dekker!) that is behind the foolish idea of increasing the already overstretched Dutch research publication budget by 30% from 34M euros for subscriptions to 43M by adding payment for pre-emptive, over-priced, double-paid Fool's Gold OA!
But there is a solution for green OA embargoes: In the case of Elsevier, they're no problem, because Elsevier does not have a green OA embargo -- just a lot of empty, non-binding pseudo-legalistic double-talk about authors retaining the right to self-archive unembargoed "except if they are required [mandated] to exercise that retained right."
That is of course patent nonsense. But for those timid authors who don't realize it, they can still be mandated to deposit the final refereed draft of their articles in their IR immediately upon acceptance for publication, but to keep it under "Closed Access" if they wish to comply with an embargo. The author can then provide individual access on a case-by-case basis: Users click the IR's eprint-request Button to request an individual copy, and the author can then comply with the request with one click.
Needless extra clicks for the (timid) author, but extra access too, and extra usage, uptake, and impact. (And a lot better than paying a needless extra 10M!)
And of course the result after a few years of mandatory immediate deposit, providing 60% immediate OA for the unembargoed deposits and 40% Button-mediated access will be that embargoes will quietly die their inevitable, well-deserved deaths, as more and more authors provide immediate OA instead of clicks.
Green OA embargoes, in other words, are illusory impediments, bits of FUD to confound timid authors. No sensible person on the planet believes they have any chance of actually holding back the Green OA dam (something the citizens of the Netherlands should understand!).
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.
Monday, November 18. 2013
Finch II: Accessibility, Sustainability, Excellence: A Review of Progress in Implementing the Recommendations of the Finch Report (October 2013)
"Our review is based on a rigorous analysis of evidence from a wide range of sources."Hardly. The Finch II review is in fact a very selective re-hash of opinions and opinion-surveys, with nothing faintly resembling the objective evidence called for by the BIS Select Committee.
This exceedingly long, rambling, incoherent new Finch report has very little that is new or substantive; it is mostly vague, self-congratulatory sloganeering. But its thrust is clear: Despite all the objections and counter-evidence to Finch I, and despite the very trenchant and specific critique and recommendations of the BIS Select Committee, Finch II is simply digging in its heels and sticking to what it said in Finch I.
This is clearly the result of remarkably successful lobbying by the UK journal publishing industry (aided and abetted by a small fervent minority of OA advocates who consider free online access insufficient, and insist on paying extra for a CC-BY license that allows re-use, text-mining, re-mixing and re-publication) -- plus a good deal of woolly-mindedness (and perhaps some pig-headedness too) in the Finch Committee and its advisors (e.g., the Wellcome Trust).
The most important amendment grudgingly admitted by Finch II is that UK researchers are now free to choose between providing OA via the Green route (of publishing articles in any journal at all, by making the article OA in a repository after any allowable publisher embargo has expired) or via the Gold route (by paying the publisher [pure Gold or hybrid] to make the article OA immediately [with a CC-BY license]).
I will not rehearse again the many reasons why paying for Gold OA is a waste of UK public funds, double-paying arbitrarily inflated "Fool's Gold" fees to publishers for the UK's outgoing 6% of worldwide research, over and above paying subscription fees to publishers for all incoming research. The fact is that Finch has now conceded that researchers are free to choose whether or not to pay for Gold, so UK researchers need not waste money on Fool's Gold unless they wish to. Author choice is restored.
Moreover, Green OA embargo length limits will not be enforced for at least two years (Finch/RCUK are instead focussing all their attention on montoring how the Gold funds are being spent).
And Finch II also seems to have grudgingly conceded that the parallel HEFCE addendum -- requiring that in order to be eligible for REF2020, all articles must be deposited in the author's institutional repository immediately upon publlication (not after an embargo, nor just before REF2020) -- is likely to be adopted.
This concession should not have been grudging, because the HEFCE/REF addendum in fact provides the crucial missing component that will make the Finch/RCUK mandate succeed, despite Finch's preference for Fool's Gold: It provides the all-important mechanism for monitoring and ensuring timely compliance, by recruiting institutions (ever ready to do anything they possibly can to increase their chances of success in REF) to ensure that deposit is immediate, even if OA is embargoed. (During any embargo the institutonal repositories also have the automated copy-request Button, which enables users to request and authors to provide individual copies for research purposes with just one click each.)
Finch II nevertheless continues to crow about the Finch Policy serving as a beacon for the rest of the world:
"It is clear also that our 2012 Report and the subsequent policy developments have proved a catalyst for activity not only in the UK, but internationally."In point of fact, apart from the UK, the only other country with a Finch-like preference for Gold is the Netherlands, as has just been announced, almost simultaneously with the release of Finch II. It is no coincidence, of course, that the UK and the Netherlands are the hosts of the world's largest journal fleet publishers, who have been feverishly lobbying worldwide against mandating Green and for instead funding Gold. The lobbying has had no success anywhere else on the planet, which now has over 80 funder OA mandates and over 200 institutional OA mandates, all of which are Green, except for the UK. (The Netherlands has not mandated OA at all, but threatens to emulate the Finch/RCUK preferential-Gold mandate in 2 years if there is not enough voluntary response.)
So, no news from Finch II, but promising prospects for a HEFCE/REF immediate-deposit requirement that will make the Finch/RCUK Green option succeed.
There are some telling signs, however, of just how fully Finch is in the thrall of the publisher lobby: Open Access is about access to research, yet Finch keeps referring to a "mixed economy" and a "transition," as if OA were about publishers' business models, hence about publishing economics, rather than about research access and impact, and as if the goal were Gold OA, rather than OA itself:
"We hold to the view that a transition via a mixed economy to Gold OA, where publication costs are met mainly by the payment of [Gold OA fees], is the most effective way of balancing our [sic] objectives of increased access, sustainability and excellence."This is also a good point to look more closely at "our" "sustainability" objective: What is it that "we" (who is "we"?) must be be careful to sustain, in the transition to OA: peer-reviewed research? or publishers' current revenue streams?
And who is to determine the terms and timetable for the transition to OA? The research community? or whatever (and however long) it takes to sustain publishers' current revenue streams?
Finch seems to have accepted wholesale that publishers are justified in embargoing Green OA in order to sustain their current subscription revenues -- and that the UK (double-) paying publishers' asking-price for Gold OA (as determined by whatever it takes to sustain their current revenue levels) is the fastest and fairest way to make a transition to 100% OA. But what is in reality being sustained here is publishers' current revenue levels, not peer-reviewed research itself. And publisher embargoes on Green OA are being used to hold back the "transition" timetable for as long as it takes till publishers' terms are met:
"...a transition to open access (OA) over an extended period that would be characterised by a mixed economy".To illustrate how fully Finch has identified itself with publishers' interests and their attempts to hold OA hostage to publishers embargoes and agenda:
"We cannot agree… with those who urge policies based solely on Green OA with short or zero embargoes, a position which derives from an exclusive preference for Green OA, rather than a mixed economy. There is a balance to be struck between embargo lengths that provide speedy access on the one hand, and sustainability for subscription-based journals and the business models that underpin them on the other."Finch II has internalized without reflection -- as if it were a law of nature, rather than merely a publisher-imposed, self-fulfilling prophecy -- the canard that Gold OA means immediate OA and Green OA means delayed OA (delayed because publishers embargo it!): The two options are accordingly defined by Finch II as:
"immediate free access to publications with the costs met by [Gold OA fees], often referred to as Gold OA…In point of fact, over 60% of subscription journals do not embargo Green OA (though Finch certainly seems to be doing its level best to give them the incentive to do so!).
Finch II has also re-affirmed its support for negotiating a Really Big Deal -- an extended national license scheme to "sustain" subscription access during the "mixed economy" transition. Translation: Publishers are to be granted their fondest wish of being paid a still bigger UK national license fee for all incoming subscription content, over and above the Finch funds to be paid them for (Fool's) Gold OA. The UK here will be collaborating in the fulfillment of publishers' "self-sustaining" strategy (see Appendix)...
Finch II also proposes to
"monitor the impact of OA policies on learned societies... [because they] start from different positions in engaging with the transition to OA."The only relevant question is whether Learned Society publishers are any more justified than commercial publishers in embargoing access to Learned Research in order to "sustain" their current revenue streams. Apart from that, post-Green Fair-Gold publishing will be as open to Learned Society publishers as to commercial publishers, if and when globally mandated Green makes subscriptions unsustainable. In place of whatever Learned Society publishing revenues were supporting "good works" such as meetings and scholarships, these good works can go on to fund themselves (via membership dues and registration fees) instead of being subsidized by lost Learned Research impact.
Finch II closes with:
"Our key recommendation is… to develop an interoperable system of repositories and an infrastructure that supports both Gold and Green OA."We can all applaud that, thanks to HEFCE/REF. The requisite infrastructure will be the interoperable system of Green OA repositories, with immediate-deposit mandated for all refereed research output, Gold and Green, with or without embargoes, and with or without CC-BY.
Publishers to Researchers:
"Want Open Access? Only On Our Terms - and Our Timetable!"
Publisher "Self-Sustaining" Strategy
(1) Do whatever it takes to sustain or increase current revenue streams.There is, however, a compeletely effective prophylactic against this publisher strategy (but it has to be adopted by the research community, because British and Dutch Ministers are apparently too susceptible to the siren call of the publishing lobby):
(a) Research funders and institutions worldwide all adopt an immediate-deposit mandate, requiring, as a condition of funding, employment and evaluation, that all researchers deposit their final, peer-reviewed drafts in their institutional repositories immediately upon acceptance for publication, regardless of whether they are published in a subscription journal or a Gold OA journal -- and regardless of whether access to the deposit is made Green OA immediately or only after a publisher embargo.
Saturday, November 16. 2013
The UK and the Netherlands -- not coincidentally, the home bases of Big Publishing for refereed research -- have issued coordinated statements in support of what cannot be described other than as a publishers' nocturnal fantasy, in the face of the unstoppable worldwide clamour for Open Access.
Here are the components of the publishers' fantasy:
(1) Do whatever it takes to sustain or increase your current revenue streams.There is, however, a compeletely effective prophylactic against this publisher fantasy (but it has to be adopted by the research community, because British and Dutch Ministers are apparently too susceptible to the siren call of the publishing lobby):
Now please read how fully the Dutch government fell for the publishing lobby's nocturnal fantasy. (Tomorrow you will see the same from the UK.)(a) Research funders and institutions worldwide all adopt an immediate-deposit mandate, requiring, as a condition of funding, employment and evaluation, that all researchers deposit their final, peer-reviewed drafts in their institutional repositories immediately upon acceptance for publication, regardless of whether they are published in a subscription journal or a Gold OA journal -- and regardless of whether access to the deposit is made Green OA immediately or only after a publisher embargo.
Here is a quick google translation of excerpts from Sander Dekker, Secretary of Education, Culture and Science, Netherlands on "Commitment to further developments in open access scientific publication"
Sander Dekker, Secretary of Education, Culture and Science, Netherlands:
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.
Saturday, October 6. 2012
Richard Poynder's interview of publisher Jan Velterop in Open and Shut
Publisher Wheeling & Dealing, Part II:
Comments on Jan Velterop's Responses to Poynder Interview
Jan Velterop:“‘Gold’ is to a large degree developed by new entrants, not the traditional publishers. It should be built up alongside ‘green’. That is more likely to force the traditional publishers’ hands than ‘green’ alone.”Not if the UK motivates traditional publishers to offer optional hybrid Gold, while continuing to collect subscriptions (and adopting and increasing embargoes on Green). (Jan seems to systematically misunderstand or forget hybrid Gold, thinking instead that the contest is just between pure Gold and subscriptions.)
Jan Velterop:Except if both are being offered by and paid to the very same journals, because subscription journals go hybrid for UK Gold.
Jan Velterop:Managing peer review (provided for free by researchers) is a public good, like roads or hospitals??
What’s wrong with authors paying for the peer review service alone, per paper, once it’s been unbundled and liberated from the obsolete publishing functions and their costs (print edition, online edition, access-provision, archiving) by mandatory Green OA self-archiving in institutional repositories -- and then using just a fraction of the institutional savings from cancelling subscriptions to pay for just that peer review alone?
Jan Velterop:Where’s the tension with no-fault peer review services, paid by authors, out of their institution’s subscription savings?
And how is the management of a peer review service (performed by unpaid peers) a “common” that warrants McNopolistic national licensing instead of just per-piece payment for the service itself? And especially while the service is still co-bundled with a lot of other obscolescent products and services and their costs?
Jan Velterop:The service of arranging peer review I understand.
But what’s the rest? What’s “Arranging publication”? Once a paper has been peer-reviewed, revised and accepted, what’s left for publishers to do (for a fee) that authors can’t do for free (by depositing the peer-reviewed, revised, accepted paper in their institutional repository)?
And how to get there, from here -- and at a fair price for just peer review alone? Publishers won’t unbundle, downsize and renounce revenue until there’s no more market for the extras and their costs – and Green OA is what will put paid to that market. Pre-emptive Gold payment, while subscriptions are still being paid, will not – and especially not hybrid Gold.
Jan Velterop:Except that the author’s choice is based on the journal’s quality standards, not its price.
(And what about the journal’s choice? Unless the peer-review is no-fault, why would a journal choose quality over income – especially when readership is no longer a price-factor?)
And where’s the author choice in a national McNopoly?
Jan Velterop:There is no “benefit principle.” The publication costs are already being paid today as subscriptions – without providing OA. So there’s nothing to “add” but Green OA. And then it is the availability of Green OA that will drive downsizing all the way down to just no-fault peer review alone, at a fair, affordable and sustainable price, paid for on the post- Green Gold OA model, out of the subscription cancellation savings.
Jan Velterop:The differences are also ironed out if the price drops so low as to no longer make a difference. No-fault peer review will be uniform and affordable by all (out of a fraction of institutional subscription cancellation savings). The only differences between journals will be (as now) in their subject matter and their quality standards. (Authors, as always, will try to meet the highest standards they can meet; and journals will find their niche in the hierarchy.)
Jan Velterop:But only globally mandated Green OA can force the downsizing to peer review alone, and release the money to pay for it in the form of Gold OA fees. Publishers won’t unbundle and downsize on their own, if double-paid for Gold in advance, and on top of subscriptions. They will just do as they are doing now: preserve their current revenue streams, which in turn makes even a transition to Gold OA at par take an eternity, if ever.
Meanwhile, year in and year out, research access and impact are being lost, even though that – and not journal economics – is the real, urgent, and completely soluble problem, fully within the reach of the research community, and still not grasped (by mandating Green OA).
Jan Velterop:The advantages of McNopoly hybrid Gold payment for preserving publishers’ income streams are evident -- but not the incentive to un-bundle and downsize to fair, no-frills no-fault peer review service costs alone. Nor the publisher incentive for providing global OA any time soon…
Jan Velterop:As already discussed above, that would be a governmental consortium of all UK institutions bargaining with a publisher cartel of all worldwide publishers – all in order to preserve a subscription/license-like cartel’s current grotesquely bloated revenue streams.
And yet Jan agrees that the only essential service at issue is a peer-review service, per individual article.
This sort of national consortial bargaining scheme could, as I’ve often said, be used to pre-pay for daily Big Macs for every UK citizen: A national McLicense McNopoly.
Does anyone stop to think why we would never dream of doing that for anything else -- apart from Jan Velterop’s common goods like roads and hospitals? But is that really the kind of life-and-death common good that managing the peer review service is, too?
And isn’t there something to be said for keeping service-providers independent and competing (for submission quality as well as APC quantity), as with other products and services, rather than combined and colluding? (Not to mention that no-fault peer review prevents journals from lowering acceptance standards for more revenue: they get paid regardless of the outcome (accept, revise or reject) – and the higher-standard ones will get more authors competing for acceptance.)
Jan Velterop:Why no doubts, if it did not prove sustainable even in a small country like the Netherlands? (What would be evidence that would make Jan doubt the sustainability of a McNopoly, then, if failure to sustain it is not evidence enough?)
Jan Velterop:But once journal publishing has been downsized by Green OA mandates to just the essentials -- a no-fault peer-review service, per submission, unbundled from the obsolete hold-overs from the print era -- the cost will be so low that the consumption/production difference makes no difference. (My guess is about $100-$200 per round of peer review -- paid for out of a fraction of institutional subscription cancellation savings.)
Jan Velterop:Does Jan really think that authors would pick journals for their price rather than their quality level? Does he think peer-review standards are generic and uniform? (And has Jan forgotten that with hybrid journals we are talking about the very same journals that authors are publishing in today?)
Jan Velterop:Gold OA is indeed Gold OA whether the journal is hybrid or pure (and whether the Gold is Gratis or CC-BY)
But “hybrid” does not refer to a kind of OA, it refers to a kind of journal: the kind that charges both subscriptions and (optionally) Gold OA fees.
That kind of journal certainly exists; and they certainly can and do double-dip. And that’s certainly an expensive way to get (Gratis) Gold OA.
And the Finch/RCUK policy will certainly encourage many if not all journals to go hybrid Gold, and publishers, to maximize their chances of making an extra 6% revenue from the UK, will in turn jack up their Green embargoes past RCUK’s permissible limits.
Jan Velterop:Double-dipping is not about the number articles or subscribers a journal has, but about charging subscriptions and, in addition, charging, per article, for Gold OA. That has nothing to do with number of articles, journals or subscribers: It’s simply double-charging.
Jan Velterop:Nothing of the sort, and extremely simple, for a publisher who really does not want to double-dip, but to give all excess back as a rebate:
Count the total number of articles, N, and the total subscription revenue, S.
From that you get the revenue per article: S/N.
Hybrid Gold OA income is than added to that total revenue (say, at a fee of S/N per article).
That means that for k Gold OA articles, total hybrid journal revenue is S + kS/N.
And if the journal really wants to reduce subscriptions proportionately, at the end of the year, it simply sends a rebate to each subscribing institution:
Suppose there are U subscribing institutions. Each one gets a year-end rebate of kS/UN (regardless of the yearly value of k, S, U or N).
(Alternatively, if the journal wants to give back all of the rebate only to the institutions that actually paid for the extra Gold, don’t charge subscribing institutions for Gold OA at all: But that approach shows most clearly why and how this pre-emptive morphing scheme for a transition from subscriptions to hybrid Gold to pure Gold is unscaleable and unsustainable, hence incoherent. It is an Escher impossible figure, either way, because collective subscriptions/“memberships” – including McNopolies -- only make sense for co-bundled incoming content; for individual pieces of outgoing content the peer-review service costs must be paid by the individual piece. There are at least 20,000 research-active institutions on the planet and at least 25,000 peer-reviewed journals, publishing several million individual articles per year. No basis – or need --for a pre-emptive cartel/consortium McNopoly.)
Jan Velterop:Less Gold – the value of the year-end institutional rebate -- kS/UN – is less that year.
Jan Velterop:By exactly10S/50U per subscribing institution U.
Jan Velterop:Simple answer: it’s not worth the price either way. Both prices are grotesquely inflated. No-fault peer review should cost about $100-200 per round.
Jan Velterop:Fine, let those who want and need CC-BY pay extra for it, if they wish, and can.
But mandate that everyone most provide Gratis Green, whether or not they wish to pay for CC-BY.
Jan Velterop:Not hybrid Gold publishers. They stay in the market no matter what they charge for Gold, as long as subscriptions hold.
But they will probably be careful not to charge more than 1/Nth of their revenue per article to be sure to get the extra RCUK Gold subsidy…
Jan Velterop:Not in the least. It’s saying: The cake’s paid for already, through subscriptions. Let everyone eat (OA).
And we want OA now, and can provide it via Green OA self-archiving.
If and when that goes on to make subscriptions unsustainable, the dysfunctional market will downsize to peer review service alone, paid for, per article, out of the subscription savings, as post-Green Gold OA, fairly, affordably, scalably and sustainably.
But the purpose of OA is OA – access to research for all users, not just those whose institutions can afford subscriptions.
Whether and when Green OA will fix the dysfunctional journal market is a secondary matter. It’s sure that 100% Green OA will provide 100% OA, solving the research access problem – and thereby making the journal affordability problem a much less important matter.
If global Green OA makes subscriptions unsustainable, forcing journals to unbundle, cut costs and downsize to peer review alone (as I think it is eventually likely to do) all the better. It will have fixed the “dysfunctional market” too.
But what is urgently needed now, and already a decade overdue even though it is fully within reach, is 100% OA – through global Green OA mandates from institutions and funders.
Jan Velterop: “I think it is more likely that [it is not because of publisher lobbying that] the Finch group has adopted the view that “gold” is indeed the most straightforward, scalable (proportional to the research effort and funding), and particularly because of this proportionality, economically sustainable model. After all, the “green” model needs subscriptions to be maintained, and the cost of those needs to be taken into account when comparing what is financially the best option for the country.”See above.
But it’s not just subscription publishers that were doing the lobbying: so were Gold OA publishers (pure and hybrid). And there was also (very valid and timely) lobbying for Open Data (CC-BY) as well, but the latter was unwittingly was conflated by Finch/BIS with the urgent need in some fields only (e.g., crystallography) for CC-BY data-mining rights for journal articles too.
Not only is there no need, but it makes no sense to pay extra for CC-BY gold for all UK journal articles, when most fields only need Gratis OA (which can be provided via cost-free Green). And even for the few fields that do urgently need CC-BY Gold, the UK paying for it pre-emptively will only provide CC-BY for 6% of worldwide journal articles in the field, which is no use when what is needed is data-mining rights for 100% of worldwide output.
Meanwhile, subscriptions are already being paid by the UK and the rest of the world, covering the costs of publication in full and fulsomely. An effective Green OA mandate can provide Gratis OA to 100% of UK output at no extra cost. And if Green OA mandates eventually globalize and make subscriptions unsustainable, it will also provide the means to downsize journal publishing affordably to just the peer review service alone, and will release the subscription funds to pay for it – instead of gratuitously paying extra, pre-emptively, today, out of already scarce research funds, as Finch/BIS proposes (under the lobbying of publishers, for which that would of course be the optimal outcome, at the expense of research and researchers).
And that, in turn, will usher in as much CC-BY as users need and authors wish to provide, with no constraints from publishers, embargoes or copyright transfer.
Jan Velterop:What difference does it make for subscription publishers who go hybrid Gold? Their bets are hedged. It’s win/win, thanks to their UK subsidy (and any others who care to pay for hybrid Gold): S + kS/N
Besides, publishers all no doubt see the OA writing on the wall and see hybrid Gold, subsidized by the UK, as their best bet for preserving their current revenue levels. So they characterizing Green OA to Finch/BIS as inadequate and a failure – and, for good measure, adding that if Green grows then it will destroy journal publishing as well as peer review. (Odd effect for something inadequate…)
Jan Velterop:Stay tuned. You haven’t seen how effective Green OA mandates work yet. (And their anarchic growth is a strength, not a weakness.)
Besides, one of the reasons mandates need to be strengthened is because many publishers who “prefer” Gold are at the same time doing their level best to (1) stave off Green mandates with embargoes (making the “delay” they complain of into a self-fulfilling prophecy) – and (2) to talk RCUK out of mandating Green at all (because it is inadequate as well as ruinous)!
But if the ‘inadequacy” is that Green OA articles are hard to find, publishers should wake up and smell the coffee (and surf, say, Google Scholar). The only content that is hard to find is the content that is not there – because it has not been made Green OA, thanks to publishers’ efforts to prevent it. It is disingenuous (but rather endearing, because of its utter transparency) for publishers to tout as an inadequacy of Green OA obstacle created by publishers themselves!
Jan Velterop:My problem is not increasing APCs! It’s increasing Green embargoes -- and being forced to pick and pay for Gold (out of scarce research funds) instead of being able to fulfill the RCUK OA mandate with cost-free Green.
Jan Velterop:Let Jan keep speculating about economics and McNopolies, and let publishers keep negotiating licenses to their heart’s content – but let RCUK mandate (gratis) Green so we can have OA in the meanwhile, at no added cost.
Jan Velterop:A global transition to Gold OA is only possible when institutional subscriptions are no longer being paid for – freed up by cancellations to pay for Gold OA, at a fair price.
Pre-emptively subsidizing hybrid Gold OA will not bring any of that about: Mandating Green OA will.
And subscriptions can’t be cancelled till all or nearly all journal contents are accessible by another means (Green OA). This is why anarchic growth is possible, and a strength rather than a weakness of mandating Green OA globally.
Jan Velterop:And I don’t mind voluntary Gold – as long as Green is first made mandatory.
Green can and will first provide global OA – and that’s what this has all been about, for over two long decades now.
Whether and when it makes subscriptions unsustainable, and forces downsizing to peer review and a transition to Gold OA at a fair, affordable, sustainable price is a far less urgent and important matter. Green OA will solve the access problem in the online era. Publishing -- a service profession -- will adapt.
Jan Velterop:That would be fine. But RCUK is forcing (hybrid) Gold. And the objective is OA, not Gold.
Jan Velterop:1. Because of the distributed, anarchic nature of the growth of Green – article by article and institution by institution rather than journal by journal – Green cannot cause cancellations till it is at or near 100% globally.
2. Green can grow regardless of whether publishers raise journal prices.
3. The most effective Green mandate (ID/OA + the Button) is immune to embargoes.
4. If embargoes are lengthened, it’s more likely to be because of Finch/RCUK hybrid Gold mandates rather than Green mandates.
5. The purpose of Green mandates is not to fix the subscription system but to get all articles deposited immediately, to provide OA as soon as possible, and to provide Almost-OA via the semi-automated email-eprint-request Button during any embargo.
Jan Velterop:If RCUK is not fixed, it will fail: researcher resistance, resentment and non-compliance.
And the problem is not how good a McNopoly Deal the UK negotiates for hybrid Gold but the negative effects of the RCUK U-Turn on worldwide OA growth, because it provides a gratuitous incentive to publishers to offer hybrid Gold and lengthen Green embargoes.
Jan Velterop:Nothing new, and not much OA to show for all the time and money that will be lost because of Finch/BIS gullibility and RCUK somnambulism.
Jan Velterop:Actually, OA is an end in itself -- for research and researchers.
But so far we have not even grasped -- though it’s fully within reach -- the means to the means, which is to mandate Green OA in order to have, at long last, global (Gratis) OA instead of access denial and impact loss. The rest can come only after we have reached at least that.
Jan Velterop: “I foresee a situation where a price is being paid for publishing services and “keeping the minutes of science”, via APCs or even via subscriptions, whereas the knowledge contained in publications is freely and openly shared. Now we see keeping the record and knowledge sharing as being the same, but that need not be the case in the future.”And I foresee researchers doing research using the full resources of the online medium (which is perfectly capable of storing and preserving its own minutes), with peer-reviewed research openly accessible to all users, and what used to be called publishing now reduced to the management of the peer-review service -- with that, and only that, being paid for via post-Green Gold OA fees.
Harnad, S. (2007) The Green Road to Open Access: A Leveraged Transition. In: Anna Gacs (ed). 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. (2010) No-Fault Peer Review Charges: The Price of Selectivity Need Not Be Access Denied or Delayed. D-Lib Magazine 16 (7/8).
Harnad, S. (2011) Gold Open Access Publishing Must Not Be Allowed to Retard the Progress of Green Open Access Self-Archiving. Logos: The Journal of the World Book Community. 21(3-4): 86-93
Harnad, S (2012) Why the UK Should Not Heed the Finch Report. LSE Impact of Social Sciences Blog, Summer
Harnad, S (2012) Hybrid gold open access and the Chesire cat’s grin: How to repair the new open access policy of RCUK. LSE Impact of Social Sciences Blog September Issue
Harnad, S (2012) There's no justifying RCUK's support for [hybrid] gold open access. Guardian HE Network.
Harnad, S (2012) United Kingdom's Open Access Policy Urgently Needs a Tweak. D-Lib Magazine Volume 18, Number 9/10 September/October 2012
Harnad, S (2012) The Optimal and Inevitable outcome for Research in the Online Age. CILIP Update September 2012
Harnad, S (2102) Digital Research: How and Why the RCUK Open Access Policy Needs to Be Revised. Digital Research 2012. Tuesday, September 12, Oxford.
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.
Publisher Wheeling & Dealing, Part I:
Comments on Richard Poynder’s Overview of Velterop Interview
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