Re: Draft letter for institutions to sign to implement Berlin

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Fri, 26 Dec 2003 19:37:35 +0000


Please don't misunderstand me. I don't begrudge a penny of the (I believe)
$9 million subsidy awarded to PLoS. It is money well-spent. But, *for
the same money* you could also be promoting the unified joint open-access
provision strategy at all times, thereby not losing one bit of OA via
OA publishing, yet gaining a lot more OA via OA self-archiving, instead
of promoting just OA publishing alone.

OA self-archiving has benefitted, indirectly, from all the promotion
and press coverage that has been accorded to PLoS and BMC, because it
has raised OA consciousness in general, and prepared people a *little*
better for understanding OA self-archiving too. But this effect was
certainly not because of any direct mention of self-archiving, let
alone promotng it as an integral part of a unified open-access provision

*That* is what could still be so easily remedied. If *I* (with no subsidy
or promotional budget) can faithfully describe the unified joint OA
strategy every time I write or speak about it, it seems to me PLoS and BMC
should be able to do so too (without diverting a penny of their funding or
their energy from their own OA component: just doing a lot more for OA in
the same breath). And, as I've said before, OA growth via self-archiving
stands to accelerate the growth of OA journal publishing too.

I wrote:

>sh> If the Public Library of Science is dedicated to promoting OA for all
>sh> journal articles, and not just to promoting OA journal publishing for its
>sh> own articles, I hope that it will elect to use its vast subsidy to promote
>sh> the Unified Joint OA Provision Policy, rather than just promoting OAJ alone.
> PLoS does not have a "vast subsidy".

I stand corrected. But compared to zero, even a mere $9 million might be excused
for being seen as vast. ;>)

> We have a grant from the Moore
> Foundation, the explicit purpose of which is to launch and promote open
> access journals like PLoS Biology and PLoS Medicine. We believe that the
> long-term success of open access requires building broad community support,
> and thus we have always been engaged in promoting open access in general.

If publishing in an open access journal were always explicitly presented
as one component in a two-component open-access provision strategy --
the other component being to self-archive all of one's toll-access journal
articles for which there is not yet a suitable open-access journal --
not only would it give authors and their institutions and funders a
much more realistic picture of what an author desirous of providing
open access for his work can do, but it would do a great deal to help
accelerate OA provision via self-archiving.

> However, we also believe that the long-term success of open access requires
> a robust and vibrant open access publishing sector, and that PLoS has to
> remain focused on this goal if we are to succeed.

If I ever ask you to do something that jeopardizes the long-term success of open
access or the growth of a robust and vibrant open-access publishing sector,
please draw it to my attention, and I will immediately withdraw the request!

I don't believe I am doing anything like that right now!

Cheers, Stevan

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 Open Access Forum (98 & 99 & 00 & 01 & 02 & 03):
    Post discussion to:

Unified Dual Open-Access-Provision Policy:
    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 Fri Dec 26 2003 - 19:37:35 GMT

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