Re: Is there any need for a universal Open Access label?

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Tue, 2 Dec 2003 12:13:49 +0000

On Tue, 2 Dec 2003, Helene Bosc wrote:

> May I suggest the abbreviated acronym FIPA instead of FIPA-TRAFTO?

The acronym for
was only meant tongue-in-cheek (as I assume Helene's comment was too).

> your definition of FIPA-TRAFTO is ideal but rarely observed

It depends what you mean by rare. Open access articles are, I agree,
still far too rare, relative to toll-access articles (only about 10% of
the total yearly output of 2,500,000 refereed research articles).

But within that 10%, most of it is 100% "FIPA-TRAFTO." This includes the
approximately 2.5% that is open-access for having been published in one
of the open-access journals existing today, and the approximately 7.5%
that is open-access for having been self-archived by its author --
mostly before the published version appears (first as a "preprint,"
then as a "postprint"):

> the more common OAI documents presently observed in archives [are]
> fulltext, tagged as refereed (including journal-name) but with a *later*
> deposit date [than its publication date]

Actually, I wonder what data Helene has in mind. For example, the quarter
million self-archived papers in the Physics ArXiv
are mostly deposited as preprints, long before publication. The
same is true for the computer-sciences tech-reports harvested by (though those are not OAI-compliant).
The legacy (retrospective) literature in CogPrints and departmental archives like and is obviously
deposited long after its publication, but its *current* literature is
deposited at or before its publication date. And we are talking here about
current research, not retrospective research.

I think Helene might have in mind the (needlessly timid) self-archiving
policies of some other institutions, recommending self-archiving after
publication rather than at or before (presumably because of what they
imagine to be copyright or legal constraints):

(1) Clearly, these delays are moot for the 55% of journals that already
support author self-archiving of the preprint, postprint or both:

(2) Clearly journals that support self-archiving only 6 months or a year
or more after publication are not supporting open-access, and this should
not be described as open-access provision. The "immediate" is critical
for the benefits of open access for research progress, and we should
not buy into any embargo policy whatsoever.

    Harnad, S. (2001) AAAS's Response: Too Little, Too Late. Science dEbates [online]

So, no, I would say that delayed/embargoed access is *not* open access, and should
not be described as such. (That does not mean delayed access is not better than no
access. But it is not open access. Just as lower-toll access is better than
higher-toll access but is not open access.)

Moreover, how full are the archives of those institutions whose policy is delayed
depositing? One would like to see some evidence that such timid policies at least
generate more archive content than the bolder ones: Do they? (My guess is no, and
that that this needless delay-constraint probably deserves a place on the list of
etiologies for Zeno's Paralysis:

Stevan Harnad

NOTE: A complete archive of the ongoing discussion of providing open
access to the peer-reviewed research literature online is available at
the American Scientist September Forum (98 & 99 & 00 & 01 & 02 & 03):
    Post discussion to:

Dual Open-Access Strategy:
    BOAI-2 ("gold"): Publish your article in a suitable open-access
            journal whenever one exists.
    BOAI-1 ("green"): Otherwise, publish your article in a suitable
            toll-access journal and also self-archive it.
Received on Tue Dec 02 2003 - 12:13:49 GMT

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