Open Access Provision Policy

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Tue, 2 Dec 2003 13:45:27 +0000

The following excellent article from the Open Access Newsletter is by
Peter Suber. It is about what we should probably begin to call "Open
Access Provision" Policy for Universities and Research Funders. I have
added some supplementary references at the end. -- SH

> [By: Peter Suber ]
> Objection-reply: Whether OA-promoting policies must "wait until the
> infrastructure is ready"
> There are large reasons to launch open-access journals and archives. But
> here's a smaller one that might be overlooked in the discussion of the
> larger ones.
> Some institutions that support OA are torn by the decision whether to go
> beyond encouraging it to requiring it. For example:
> * Funding agencies might want to require OA to the results of the research
> they fund.
> * Legislatures might want to require OA to the results of the research
> funded by taxpayers.
> * Universities might want to require that faculty (especially those
> undergoing promotion and tenure review) deposit their research articles in
> the institution's OA repository or archive.
> I've been in several conversations with funders and university
> administrators who are considering these steps. One objection that always
> comes up is that the OA infrastructure isn't ready. "We can't require
> OA," the argument goes, "or even encourage it very strongly until the
> OA infrastructure can accommodate the resulting flood of literature."
> In responding to this objection, let's first distinguish the archive
> infrastructure from the journal infrastructure.
> The archive infrastructure is either ready or very close. There's ample
> unused capacity, and archives scale up without problem. But even if there
> aren't enough archives to hold *all* the literature that would flow toward
> them if governments, foundations, and universities began to require OA,
> they are inexpensive and easy to launch. If major institutions adopted
> policies encouraging or requiring deposit in an OA archive, you can be
> sure that more than enough universities, libraries, labs, departments, and
> private researchers would launch new archives before the week was over.
> Moreover, funding agencies should appreciate that they can host their own
> archives. Last month, for example, the US Environmental Protection Agency
> (EPA) launched its own archive, Science Inventory, to hold EPA-funded
> data and research papers. Even if all these files could be archived in
> various institutional and disciplinary repositories outside the EPA, using
> its own archive lets EPA monitor compliance with its OA requirement,
> facilitate discovery and retrieval, assure long-term preservation,
> and of course guarantee the sufficiency of the infrastructure.
> The journal infrastructure is different. When foundations and legislatures
> worry about insufficient infrastructure, they're really worrying about OA
> journals. This is clear from their conversation. It's important to respond
> to this worry about journals with two very different considerations.
> First, it's true that there aren't enough OA journals. We should have
> many more in every discipline. All OA proponents admit this.
> Second, it would be a mistake for a funding agency to require OA through
> journals alone. If it wrote its policy properly, it would require OA,
> period, and leave the researcher some choice about how to achieve it --in
> particular the choice between archives and journals. OA through archives
> is just as useful and just as genuine as OA through journals. OA archives
> could take the flood of new OA literature without delay. Archives could
> continue to fill this role even after we have many more OA journals.
> Bottom line: the OA infrastructure *is* ready. We realize this as soon as
> we remember that OA isn't limited to journals.
> Some funding agencies and universities will never be comfortable requiring
> OA. But my distinct impression is that some would go beyond encouragement
> to requirement if they believed that the OA infrastructure was ready to
> accommodate the resulting surge of articles. I invite these institutions
> to see that the infrastructure is ready, to cross that objection off the
> list, and continue their deliberations where they left off.
> Sometimes infrastructure leads content, and we must work on getting people
> to submit their content and take advantage of the existing capacity. This
> is roughly the situation today with archives. But sometimes content leads
> infrastructure, and we hope it will nudge or inspire people to create
> infrastructure. This is roughly the situation today with journals. The
> driving force may shift back and forth, just as software makes demands
> on hardware, which manufactures eventually satisfy, and hardware creates
> opportunities for software, which programmers eventually exploit. We can
> ride this dialectic by pushing more content into existing archives, and
> launching more journals to take up the building demand. The first step
> will answer the objection that scholars show little interest in OA. The
> second step will answer the objection that the journal-infrastructure
> isn't ready.
> There are many unfilled archives today. So I know better than to
> claim that "if you build it, they will come." Infrastructure alone is
> insufficient. We need infrastructure plus policies (from funders and
> employers) to encourage its use, and we need education (from friends
> of OA) to show why using it is in the interests of scholars themselves,
> both as authors and readers.
> But for the same reason --there are many unfilled archives today-- no one
> can say that the OA infrastructure isn't ready for a big bump in demand.
> * To launch new OA archives see the BOAI Guide to Institutional Repository
> Software.
> * To launch new OA journals, or convert conventional journals to OA,
> see the BOAI Journal Business Guides.
> * I've drafted a model policy for funding agencies showing one way to
> require OA to the results of the funded research by giving the researcher
> the choice between OA archives and journals. This or some variation on
> this method lets funding agencies require OA now, without waiting for a
> huge wave of new journals to launch. It also allows authors to meet the
> OA requirement without giving up their freedom to publish in conventional,
> toll-access journals.
> * The EPA's Science Inventory
> -------------------

Supplementary references (added by S.H.)

Harnad, S. (2001) "Research access, impact and assessment." Times Higher Education
Supplement 1487: p. 16.

Harnad, S. (2003) Measuring and Maximising UK Research Impact. Times Higher
Education Supplement. Friday, June 6 2003.

Harnad, S., Carr, L., Brody, T. & Oppenheim, C. (2003) Mandated online
RAE CVs Linked to University Eprint Archives: Improving the UK Research
Assessment Exercise whilst making it cheaper and easier.

"Draft Policy for Self-Archiving University Research Output"

"On the Need to Take Both Roads to Open Access"

"The Green and Gold Roads to Open Access"

"Re: Bethesda statement on open access publishing"

"Norway: Open Online Access to Research"

"Berlin Declaration on Open Access"

"Public Access to Science Act (Sabo Bill, H.R. 2613)"

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-Provision 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 - 13:45:27 GMT

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