Re: For Whom the Gate Tolls?

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Tue, 3 Feb 2004 14:39:22 +0000

[Identity Deleted] wrote:
> Sorry for the confusion - I dull wittedly did not make myself clear.
> (But still do not want to contribute [openly to the AmSci Forum]...)
> I am proposing that individuals be allowed access for free from
> anywhere, but that libraries, if they want to link to the journal in
> any number of viable ways, should pay as institutions.
> That seems to me to be quite different from the target you demolish in
> your recent reply to the [Forum]. It is a form of market segmentation.

What you have not explained is *why* libraries should want to keep paying
access-tolls if all their individual users can access all articles
online toll-free anyway (and why journal publishers should want to risk
providing direct toll-free access to their content for all individual
users on the assumption that libraries would nevertheless keep on paying
for institutional toll-access!).

It is a fact, however, that at the moment libraries are doing precisely
that in the few areas where the journal articles have been made
open-access -- but made open-access not by their journal publishers but
by their *authors,* through self-archiving:

      "Parts of physics have been self-archiving since 1991. Some
      subfields of it, like HEP, have reached 100% open-access
      that way some time ago. Yet no physics journal has folded or
      even experienced cancellation pressure. Indeed one prominent
      "born-gold" journal, JHEP, which reached a whopping impact factor
      of 7 within a few years of its launching, has since reverted from
      the gold cost-recovery model (OA) to the green one (TA), yet 100%
      of its contents were, are, and remain OA via self-archiving!

      "Self-archiving is anarchic: It is never quite clear at what point
      100% of a journal is openly accessible. That is no doubt one factor
      in the non-cancellation of green journals. Another factor is that
      although there are green journals in all price-ranges, the ones
      whose contents approach 100% self-archiving also happen to be the
      fairly-priced journals, like the APS journals, and libraries do
      not wish to penalise them for being fairly priced (and green!). In
      the case of supporting the reversion of JHEP from gold to green,
      I think the libraries were again trying to support a progressive
      journal, fairly priced, and needing to make ends meet. In some
      cases libraries still wish to keep ordering the print edition."


> Why would libraries pay? Any number of reasons, especially if the
> charge, as it would have to be, is relatively small. But even though
> small, would be enough to float journal publication.
> If you want, try me out on any refutation or clarification.

It is quite possible that the essential costs of journal publication will
continue to be covered by institutional access tolls long after all the
annual 2.5 million articles in the world's 24,000 peer-reviewed journals
are openly accessible online to all their would-be users worldwide,
independent of whether or not their own institutions can afford the
tolls. But this is all speculation. What is needed is that open access,
now! It is highly unlikely that it will be provided directly by the
*publishers* of those articles, but it is both likely and feasible for it
to be provided by the *authors* of those articles -- by self-archiving them
in their institutional open-access eprint archives.

This may or may not eventually lead, in turn, to a leveraged transition from
a toll-access (user-institution) cost-recovery model to an open-access
(author-institution) cost-recovery model. But there is definitely no reason to

    "The Green Road to Open Access: A Leveraged Transition"

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:
        To join the Forum:
        Post discussion to:
        Hypermail Archive:

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 Tue Feb 03 2004 - 14:39:22 GMT

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