Re: Free Access vs. Open Access

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Thu, 8 Jan 2004 19:54:26 +0000

On Thu, 8 Jan 2004, Jim Till wrote:

> The debate seems to me to be mainly about the 2nd component of the
> definitions of open access that are included in the Berlin Declaration,
> and in the Bethesda Statement

No, the discussion is about the BOAI definition, the one that coined the
term "open access" and defined it. The rest are derivative documents,
not defining ones.

There is nothing in the BOAI definition to support the "free/open"
distinction that some have since attempted to make. In particular, the
BOAI definition states that author/institution self-archiving of the
full-text of an article is one of the two ways to make that article open
access (BOAI-1 ["green"] and BOAI-2 ["gold"]). Proponents of
the free/open distinction have attempted to argue that BOAI-2 is
"open access" while BOAI-1 is merely "free access" (unless the author
negotiates something equivalent to the creative commons license, including
republication rights, as in some BOAI-2 journals).

I have argued that this is not only *not* part of the BOAI definition,
but that it is unnecessary and would be a gratuitous deterrent if
taken to be a necessary condition for open access.

> in the Wellcome Trust position
> statement,
> "2. A complete version of the work and all supplemental
> materials, including a copy of the permission as stated
> above, in a suitable standard electronic format is deposited
> immediately upon initial publication in at least one online
> repository that is supported by an academic institution,
> scholarly society, government agency, or other
> well-established organization that seeks to enable open
> access, unrestricted distribution, interoperability, and
> long-term archiving (for the biomedical sciences, PubMed
> Central is such a repository)."

This is not in the BOAI either, and it conflates open access itself
with archiving.

It is certainly part of the definition of "open-access journal-publishing"
(BOAI-2) that the journal must provide open access! This necessarily
entails some form of "archiving" -- if by "archiving" we mean providing
some place where the user can have open access to the content of the

So it is tautological to say that the full-text of every OA journal
article must be deposited in "at least one" archive! That is BOAI-2. It
remains only to add that it is the *journal* (not the author) who must
deposit it (in the case of BOAI-2) and that it is highly desirable
(though not mandatory) that the archive should be OAI-compliant.
And the "permission" consists of the rights agreement with the OA publisher.

That's all implicit in the definition of BOAI-2 (the golden road to
OA). But what about BOAI-1 (the green road to OA)? Here too, the full-text
is deposited in an open-access eprint archive (preferably OAI-compliant),
but this time it is deposited by the author, not the publisher. And the
publisher is likely to be a toll-access publisher. And there has been
(and need be) no further rights agreement (other than the one with the
toll-access publisher. Nor does the agreement need to be deposited. The
only thing that needs to be deposited is the full-text of the article itself
(though a link to the publisher's toll-access version is a useful
courtesy, and a good scholarly practise too)!

Archiving, in other-words, is not merely the access-provision component
of BOAI-2 journals. It is also an independent way of providing open
access to toll-access journal articles. Not "free access": "open access."

> An example of what is (or is not) a "suitable standard
> electronic format" isn't provided in this version of the 2nd
> component of the definition. (I assume that "suitable
> formats" would include XML, PDF & HTML? Plus some other
> formats?).

The electronic format is not and should not be part of the definition
of open-access: Any user must be able to download the full-text,
toll-free. That's all. XML is more desirable than HTML is more
desirable than PDF is more desirable than PS or ASCII. TeX is nice
too. OAI-interoperable is preferable to not. But none of those are

> The only example of a suitable "online repository" that's
> provided is PubMed Central. It seems clear to me that the
> kind of stable-institution-based archive that Stevan Harnad
> has been advocating so vigorously would also fit this
> definition.

I should hope so. The only archive-type differences are: OAI (more
preferable) vs. non-OAI (less preferable). Central discipline-based archives
and distributed institutional archives are also equivalent (especially if
OAI-compliant). But for BOAI-1 (self-archiving), distributed institutional
archives may be a better bet because institutions are in a position to
mandate and monitor compliance with an extension of their "publish or
perish" policies to "provide open access for your publications" whereas
central and disciplinary archives are not: Authors and their institutions
share the benefits of maximising the impact of their joint research
output through open-access provision and they also share the costs of
impact-loss because of access-denial. There is no corresponding joint
interest between researchers and their disiciplines or other central

> So, the debate about definitions of open access may be, in
> essence, a debate that's primarily about the stability and
> interoperability of any particular "online repository",

No, it is not. Interoperability is not a necessary condition for open
access, just a desirable condition. The "stability" of the archive did
not even come up (and, for BOAI-1, self-archiving, it is entwined with
the red herring of preservation, which is not relevant to the secondary
OA versions of TA articles that are self-provided by their authors,
but to the primary TA versions provided, for a fee, by their TA

> and, secondarily, about what's a "suitable standard electronic format"?

Not part of the definition.

> The key issues then remain: how best to persuade authors
> either to publish in open-access journals, or to seek (or
> retain) the right to self-archive a version in a suitable
> institutional or disciplinary online repository (if one is
> available to them).

No, BOAI-1 (self-archiving) is *not* about how to seek or retain
self-archiving rights. What the physicists, for example, have been
doing without legalistic fanfare since 1991 is not "seeking or retaining
self-archiving rights" but *self-archiving*!

It is the wrong-headed notion that it is about "seeking or retaining
self-archiving rights" that has been one of the (31) needless
retardants on open-access provision for over a decade now:

> What have I misunderstood, or missed?

That BOAI-2 is simply about publishing in OA journals and BOAI-1
is simply about self-archiving one's own TA articles in an OA archive,
and that that's all there is to it.

> In my own case, publication in a suitable open-access
> journal is more feasible for me, as an author, because I can
> pay any necessary article-processing fees (APFs) from the
> (modest!) funds available for the support of my research and
> scholarship, and because no suitable institutional online
> repository is currently available to me.

If you have no eprint archive at your institution, just archive in one
of the central ones (preferably an OAI-compliant one such as ArXiv or
CogPrints). And an institution or department or lab is only a $1000
linux-server (plus some free eprints software) away from having a
"suitable institutional online repository" of its own.

> There's such a repository ("T-Space", based on D-Space
> software) at my university (Toronto):
> However, only members of particular "communities" within the
> university may self-archive eprints there, and, at present,
> I'm not a member of any of these particular "communities".

As has been repeated many times before in this Forum, archives that are
doing anything other than ensuring that they are filled as quickly and
as fully as possible with all their institutional peer-reviewed research
output are just spinning their wheels:

    "EPrints, DSpace or ESpace?"

Closed communities within a university seem antithetical to open-access --
though it's a good idea to have lots of distributed departmental eprint
archives, or archive-sectors, within a university.

> So, I'm left with the alternatives of publishing in "gold"
> open-access journals, and/or advocating for the
> establishment of an appropriate online repository that I
> could use for self-archiving of eprints that have been
> published in "green" journals.

If you have the money to publish *one* article in PLoS ($1500) you have
more than enough money to set up at least one eprint
archive. (Kepler OAI "archivelets" might be an even cheaper solution: ).

> I don't need to wait to use the former route. I do need to
> wait in order to use the latter one.

Only because you choose to.

> So (contrary to the norm!), I'm an author who wants to self-archive in
> an online repository, but currently can't.

So publish in a central archive (as above), or in some other
less-restrictive university's archive. (It's no skin off an archive's
nose to host a few peer-reviewed articles from an unaffiliated colleague,
or one whose institution is too slow to create an eprint archive or
is for some reason denying access to its own eprint archives to some
members of its own university community.)

> An exception is one commentary of mine, entitled "Predecessors of preprint
> servers", published originally in Learned Publishing 2001(Jan); 14(1):
> 7-13 and subsequently self-archived, in HTML, in the Physics section of
> the arXiv repository,

I am sure you will find sectors that are a close enough match to all your
articles, in either ArXiv or CogPrints. (Capacity is not eprint archives'
problem today: Vacancy is!)

> I've recently prepared an eprint that's an invited
> commentary (about electronic support groups). It's just been
> submitted, for peer-review, to a toll-access journal. If
> it's accepted, I'd like to self-archive it in some
> appropriate non-profit online repository (I have already
> obtained permission to do so, and also have retained
> copyright). This particular commentary isn't suitable for
> submission to the Quantitative Biology section of the arXiv
> repository, nor to Cogprints. Constructive advice would be
> welcomed.

It is not submitted, it is deposited. All OAI-compliant archives are
interoperable, so it doesn't matter which one you deposit your article in.
Does it not look compatible with any of the following existing CogPrints subject

    * Electronic Publishing
          o Archives (34)
          o Copyright (12)
          o Economics (21)
          o Peer Review (16)

Stevan Harnad

NOTE: A complete archive of the ongoing discussion of providing open
access to the peer-reviewed research literature online (1998-2004)
is available at the American Scientist Open Access Forum:
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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 Thu Jan 08 2004 - 19:54:26 GMT

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