Re: Author Publication Charge Debate

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Tue, 2 Mar 2004 09:43:40 +0000 (GMT)

> Date: Mon, 1 Mar 2004 19:08:29 EST
> From: David Prosser <>
> To:
> Subject: Re: Open access business models
> I'm afraid that I don't understand Stevan's argument. If an author wants
> to take advantage of the open access option in a journal should we
> dissuade them?

Not at all. But since authors do not yet know or understand the options
available to them, we should be completely clear on what they are. You
may choose to pay a journal to self-archive your article for you if
there is such a journal and you wish to do it. But you may always
self-archive it for yourself, without paying anyone anything. If the
reasons for providing open access to your articles are valid ones (and
all OA approaches assume they are) then there is every bit as much
reason for providing OA via self-archiving as by any other means --
*and* incomparably more possibility to do so (without waiting for OA
journals or journals that you can pay to self-archive for you).

Understand the options, and then make your choice.

> If a journal wants to offer this option should we tell
> them 'no, this is not the correct way to open access'?

Not at all. Such journals are very welcome (as long as they are also
"green" -- i.e., endorse self-archiving by the author himself, if he
prefers not to pay). Recommending that journals sell self-archiving
services *instead* of being green, however, is definitely a very
unwelcome option, and OA would definitely not be helped if we were to
promote such an exclusive option. (Note that Thomas Walker, the
originator of the paid self-archiving option, has consistently also
supported that the journals providing the option should also be green.)

> Stevan has often
> made the point that authors are not self-archiving, despite the fact that
> they can easily do so.

No, my point has never been that authors are not self-archiving. My
point has always been that *far too few* authors are self-archiving. It
is, however, a serious misunderstanding of that point if if it is taken
to imply that more authors are providing OA in some other way! As I also
always indicate in the same breath (though it keeps being overlooked),
at least three times as many articles are being made OA annually through
author self-archiving than by any other means, and self-archiving is
also growing faster. The OA advocate's justifiable impatience with that
rate of growth should not be misconstrued as implying that there is no
growth, or that other forms of growth are greater or even comparable.

It is precisely the potential power of self-archiving to provide
immediate and 100% OA that makes it so important not to eclipse it by
recommending only lower-probability and lower-feasibility strategies
such as OA journal publishing and paid self-archiving. A more useful
approach is to present all the OA options, clearly and completely,
and then encouraging authors to pick the option they prefer.

> If they are willing to have the journal do it for
> them then let's celebrate the fact that their papers are now open access
> rather than berate the authors for being 'illogical'.

If there were appreciable growth in OA via this route, I would be
celebrating it! But in fact journal-paid self-archiving is the
*smallest* of the three sources of OA today! So there is nothing to
celebrate -- only the promotion of a more constrained model without
mention of the obvious unconstrained alternative -- to regret.

> It is not an 'either/or' situation. Those authors who want to pay for
> open access through the journal can do so. Those who want to self-archive
> themselves can do so.

That does sound like an either/or situation (except that the paid
self-archiving "model" is promoted without even mentioning the unpaid

> (And there may be some who want to do both - why not let them!)

Who's stopping them? (Unless they don't even consider the unpaid option,
because all they hear of is the paid option!)

But I don't really see why an author who has paid to self-archive an
article would also want to self-archive it himself. Self-archiving is
for access, not for preservation or redundancy. One OAI-compliant OA
draft is sufficient for all the OAI harvesters to pick it up!

As for the reverse -- self-archiving it *and* then also paying the
journal to self-archive it -- well, that's more than redundant: it seems
rather profligate (in a day when no one has more available cash than he
knows what to do with!).

> I can't see any way in which offering the option of open
> access publication in journals slows the move to self-archiving. Let's
> offer as many routes as possible!

Self-archiving will be accelerated by making it -- and its feasibility
and benefits -- known as far and wide as possible. A "model" promoting
only the paid self-archiving option is not making self-archiving and its
feasibility and benefits known as far and wide as possible.

I now religiously promote the unified open-access strategy on every
occasion: Pay a journal to provide OA for your article if/when such
a suitable journal (and the funds to pay it) exist; otherwise,
self-archive. It would be very helpful (for OA) if the advocates of
the other options were always to present this unified face as well.

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.

> -----Original Message-----
> From:
> Sent: 29 February 2004 21:44
> Subject: Re: Open access business models
> Regarding David Prosser's ARL model for the transition from
> toll-access cost-recovery to the open-access cost-recovery
> please note the 1998 critique of this transitional model
> as well as the alternative transitional model proposed in
> 2001:
> The points raised therein should be taken into account as otherwise we may
> be committing ourselves to waiting passively for events that there are a
> priori reasons to expect will not happen.
> The gist of the problem is that authors paying for a journal to provide
> open access to their own individual articles is exactly equivalent to
> authors paying the journal to self-archive for them. Many more authors
> today are providing open access to their toll-access journal articles by
> self-archiving them themselves (rather than by paying the journal to do it
> for them) than are publishing their articles in open access journals.
> However, the numbers in all three cases are still far too small.
> It does not seem a very promising way to increase those numbers to propose
> that authors who do not yet have suitable open-access journals to publish
> in, or do not wish to, and who are not yet self-archiving their own
> toll-access journal articles, should now pay a toll-access journal to
> self-archive them.
> It seems more promising to set aside hypothetical models for transitions
> between cost-recovery models for now and to concentrate instead on
> demonstrating to authors and their institutions and their research-funders
> the benefits and feasibility of open-access provision by whichever of the
> available means they prefer.
> Stevan Harnad
Received on Tue Mar 02 2004 - 09:43:40 GMT

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