Re: The True Cost of the Essentials

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Tue, 2 Apr 2002 19:08:11 +0100

I have invited Mark Doyle of APS to specify concretely what parallel
measures he is recommending that BOAI pursue in order to ensure true
archiving in the long-term. BOAI's mandate is to hasten and facilitate
open access for the entire peer-reviewed corpus, now, but if there are
concrete parallel measures that do not retard the primary objective,
I am sure that BOAI will be happy to take them on board. Unfortunately,
Mark's (somewhat piqued) reply is far too vague to consititute a concrete

On Tue, 2 Apr 2002, Mark Doyle wrote:

> It is fine to pursue self-archiving.
> It isn't fine to wait to develop broader solutions
> that address archiving since they take a long time to develop and
> they will be needed at the end point of self-archiving.

So what should one do, in parallel, and without retarding the primary
BOAI objective of immediate open access? Who should do what, and how?

> > In particular, WHO should pay attention to "true electronic archiving,"
> > and how?
> Everyone interested of course. Libraries, institutions, authors,
> publishers, government agencies, BOAI signatories, etc. They should
> be working together to create standards for marked up content, to build
> tools, and to build repositories that are markup aware. They should be
> working on new economic models for paying for this and peer review.

I am afraid this does not help: Who should do what? What, exactly, should
BOAI be advocating here, to whom?

> This shouldn't wait on every author self-archiving.

And should every author self-archiving wait on this?

And what is this?

> > I mean it is fairly clear what the advocates of immediate open access
> > are advocating: That researchers should self-archive, now. And it is
> > fairly clear what they are up against: A huge panoply of prima facie
> > worries that have already been holding back self-archiving for far too
> > long:
> Fine, and neither should the false worry of slowing self-archiving hold
> up discussion of these other "worries". They are worries because they
> are important for scholarly communication. Some like archiving and
> preservation are clearly essential and should be addressed as early
> as possible if you really want to transform the whole system.

Mark has lost me. The many worthwhile desiderata he mentions are worth
pursuing in their own right, by those who are immediately concerned
with such things. They are only false worries (and have only been
dismissed, vigorously, and with supporting reasons) by me as reasons
for not self-archiving! As parallel projects they are more than

I have to remind Mark that whereas in his field of physics,
self-archiving has advanced relatively well (although its linear growth
is still far too slow), this is not yet true in other fields. It is a real
challenge to get other disciplines to self-archive, and the kinds of prima
facie worries that I (among others) have been working hard to get out of
researcher's heads are a real problem. These false worries not only slow
self-archiving, they in many cases prevent it from getting off the ground
at all. That is why -- across 10+ long years -- I have built up the file
of FAQs for combatting Zeno's Paralysis ("I worry about self-archiving

BOAI's explicit and direct goal is to hasten and facilitate open
access. Long-term archiving, preservation, markup, reference-linking, etc.
are all worthy and desirable goals too, and inasmuch as promoting them in
parallel with BOAI's primary goal of open access is feasible without
diverting resources from or slowing progress toward that primary goal,
I am sure BOAI will be happy to oblige. You need only specify concretely
exactly what it is that you would like to see BOAI do. (But don't just
say that BOAI should stop telling people to stop worrying about things like
markup, etc. as reasons for not self-archiving or submitting their work
to an open-access journal now!)

> sh> So I have to repeat: Who should be paying attention to "true electronic
> sh> archiving," and how? The authors of the annual 2 million articles
> sh> in the annual 20,000 peer-reviewed journals?
> Authors are only one player. Right now publishers and libraries act as
> proxies for them in building digital libraries. New proxies (or new tools)
> will be needed.

For BOAI Strategy 1 (self-archiving), authors are the main player.
Publishers have no role in it (apart from not trying to discourage
and libraries have a role only inasmuch as they can facilitate self-archiving:

I don't know what you mean by "proxies." I am guessing you mean that
they do the markup for the authors, and I agree with you that the most
likely, natural and optimal outcome will be that XML authoring tools
are developed and markup is offloaded onto authors instead of proxies.

But this is likely to happen anyway (and probably is already happening:
even WORD will be generating [bad] XML versions soon) and it is unclear
how BOAI should help. One possibility is via BOAI Strategy 2 (creating
new, alternative open-access journals, and converting established
journals to open-access): It would of course be a great help to a new
open-access journal (or a journal converting to open access) if XML
authoring tools could be provided for its authors. This would not only
reduce costs but it would contribute to long-term archiving too.

If this is what you mean to recommend, I am sure it can be put on the OSI
list of potentially fundable BOAI projects.

> sh> I rather think that what those authors should instead be doing is
> sh> self-archiving.
> This is a false opposition (you seem to the master of this). It is not
> one or the other. Both are important and both can develop in parallel.

It is a fact that self-archiving is growing much too slowly, and that
authors repeatedly put forward archive-preservation worries among their
groundless reasons for not self-archiving (there are plenty of other
groundless reasons too: see the Zeno list above). It is I who have been
saying all along that archive-preservation work can go on in parallel
and need not and should not be taken as as a reason for not self-archiving,

Now where is the false opposition?

> > Other revolutions, "true" revolutions, are welcome, and let those who
> > want to usher them in pay attention to them, but the prime focus of
> > the attention of the open-access movement should be on open access,
> > now.
> Well, that is a tautology.

No, it is not a tautology. It would have been (and has been) quite easy to
declare one's goal to be open access and then to devote one's efforts and
resources to things that do not provide open access, or even retard it.
Diverting attention or resources to your "true archiving" would be one of
the ways to divert BOAI from its true goal, which is open access. If this
were a tautology, it would not be necessary for me to spell this out

> My point is that open access is going to transform
> the system (is transforming the system). But those interested in open
> access should also pay attention to the eventual end point now.

As soon as you say explicitly and concretely in what "paying attention to
the eventual end point now" consists, we will be in a position to do it.
The immediate problem right now is that the growth of open access is far
too slow, and needs to be accelerated. That is precisely what BOAI is
dedicated to doing.

You say "open access is going to transform the system (is transforming
the system [in physics])". BOAI's interest and attention and resources are
devoted to hastening this open access, which is-and-is-going-to transform the
system. Parallel interests and attention and resources might be available
too, if you can specify concretely what they should be invested in, and

> sh> Let's call a spade a spade. (Mark, please correct me if I'm wrong. I
> sh> don't wish to misrepresent your position.) At the root of their
> sh> (understandable) ambivalence about open access is Mark's (and APS's)
> sh> worry that open access could compromise journals' cost-recovery before
> sh> an alternative means of cost-recovery is in place.
> Yes.
> sh> Whereas my (and
> sh> BOAI's) worry is that open access is already long overdue. BOAI's every
> sh> effort is dedicated to hastening open access. Do you think that
> sh> encouraging researchers already long held back by needless worries to
> sh> worry about "true" archiving is a way to hasten self-archiving (even if
> sh> you are, as I do not doubt, an advocate of self-archiving)?
> Again, false opposition. A long term archiving solution is needed. It isn't
> needed while open access is growing, but it will be needed as we
> approach the end point. Hence each should develop in parallel.

BOAI's explicit objective is to hasten the growth of open access (and it
does need hastening, and is still far from the "end point"). Provide a
concrete and pertinent parallel agenda, one that is compatible with
hastening the growth of open access, and I cannot think of any reason BOAI
will not take it seriously. The only thing BOAI must avoid is "parallel"
agendas that simply divert funds from open access and fail to help
maximize its growth (or worse).

> sh> Note the relative emphasis, in the two interests, regarding
> sh> cost-recovery and open-access. I don't say APS's (and other
> sh> publishers') concerns are not understandable, but I hope you will also
> sh> understand BOAI's and the research community's determination not to let
> sh> such concerns continue to serve as any kind of a brake on immediate
> sh> progress towards open access.
> The APS is the research community (at least for our field). You seem to
> keep forgetting that.

Yes and no. APS is a proxy for the research community. But I certainly
agree that APS is the learned society that is acting most in consonance
with the interests of its members as researchers. But the personnel of APS
are human too, like everyone else. And necessity continues to be the
mother of invention for them too. It is not at all clear that declining
subscription resources will not help APS discover cheaper and more
efficient ways to do things than the unearned reprieve from
PostGutenberg reality that author sluggishness has given journal
publishers for over a decade now.

> > I cannot speak for BOAI, but I am fairly confident that if APS makes
> > concrete recommendations as to ways in which BOAI's efforts towards
> > hastening open access can be augmented in such a way as to converge
> > with APS's own efforts towards open access (without slowing BOAI's
> > momentum), BOAI will prove very accommodating.
> We shall see....

We shall only see when we see the recommendations!

> Anyway, I don't really have time for these long back and forths and we
> have become broken records. So I'll stop here. If anyone else in the
> open access world is interested in pursuing these issues with the APS,
> please let me know.

In lieu of providing concrete positive recommendations (having provided
rather pointed criticisms), Mark seems to be inviting the BOAI to come
and see him?

Stevan Harnad
Received on Tue Apr 02 2002 - 19:10:06 BST

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