Re: On the Need to Take Both Roads to Open Access

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Thu, 4 Mar 2004 23:57:28 +0000

On Sun, 29 Feb 2004, Waaijers, Leo wrote:

> While physicists, mathematicians and others were
> self-archiving their articles, libraries kept their subscriptions.


> In that case publishers did not object. Why should they? But what if
> libraries resume their cancellation policies (as they do) and compensate
> for the loss of access by profiting from the 'self-archives' of others?

If and when that should ever happen (it is pure speculation now)
the most likely outcome is cost-cutting, downsizing, and a transition
to OA publishing, with the windfall cancellation savings themselves
funding the new cost-recovery system:

    The Green Road to Open Access: A Leveraged Transition

But this is all speculation. The facts are 14 years of cancellation free
self-archiving in physics/math/computer-science, even in 100% OA fields.

> Don't forget, in your self-archiving world publishers are still the
> owners of copyright.

Irrelevant, as OA can always be provided via the preprint + corrigenda

> > What the research community needs now is OA, not more paralytic
> > speculation!
> I don't think anticipating some futures is paralytic speculation. I could
> easily argue the opposite!

What would you have thought it was 14 years ago, if the physicists had
done it instead of self-archiving?

> > OA itself will be the needed change, if we can stop waiting passively
> > for it, self-archiving instead of self-paralysing with counterfactual
> > speculations!
> Nobody is waiting passively. Dozens of OAI-MHP-repositories have been
> installed and their number grows weekly. They are either filled by
> self-archivers or by their libraries.

The growth of OA via self-archiving is still far too slow -- but only
relative to what it *could* be -- not relative to OA growth by other
means, which is much slower, and could not produce 100% OA virtually
overnight, as OA self-archiving could.

> In the same time, the number of
> OA-journals has more than doubled in 8 months. So, what's your point? The
> sun also rises if the cock does not crow!

No, the number of OA journals did not double in 8 months! The number
*reported* doubled in 8 months. Please have a look at the 774 OA
journals in DOAJ to see when they began, or when
they converted to OA. You will find that most of it did not happen in
the last 8 months! And many of those OA journals are actually TA journals
for their paper version, with their OA version toll-free. That too
suggests that the speculations about catastrophic cancellations are

It will be important, however, to monitor the growth of OA by both
routes once all OA journals and archives are inventoried. I estimate
that the yearly number of articles being made OA via self-archiving is
at least 3 high as great as the number being made OA via OA journals,
and growing faster. That stands to reason, when there are 24,000
journals, only 1000 of them OA ("gold") but at least 50% more of them
"green" (i.e., formally endorsing self-archiving). With the preprint +
corrigenda strategy, that rises to 100% -- potentially. Now we have to
make that potentially into actually. For that, institutions must extend
their existing publish-or-perish policies to also mandate open-access

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 Mar 04 2004 - 23:57:28 GMT

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