Re: Elsevier Gives Authors Green Light for Open Access Self-Archiving

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Mon, 7 Jun 2004 21:56:16 +0100 (BST)

As long as we're making corrections on Stephen Pincock's article in the
Scientist ("Tool allows open-access search")
Stephen cites me as follows:

    "It's thought that the approximately 1200 OA journals currently
    available make up about 5% of all scholarly journals, Harnad said.
    Another 15% allows authors to deposit their articles in OA archives,
    meaning altogether that articles from about 20% of journals are
    available in OA of some description."

That the 1200 OA journals are 5% of all peer-reviewed journals is
correct. That there is 15% OA self-archiving is also correct. But that 15%
of journals "allows (sic) authors" to self-archive is incorrect. (Stephen
goes on to correct this later by stating, correctly, that it is 80% of
journals that have given their green light so far.) It is also incorrect
that 20% of journals are availaible in OA: It is 20% of *articles*
(i.e., 5% + 15%) for which OA has so far been provided. Just 80%
left to go...

Stevan Harnad

On Fri, 4 Jun 2004, Stephen Pincock wrote:

> Dear Dr. Harnad,
> DOAJ is describing its latest development--article searching--as a major
> breakthrough--I wonder if you agree.


It's not a major breakthrough, but it's a very useful asset.

Let me put it in context:

There are between 20,000 and 40,000 peer-reviewed journals publishing
between 2-4 million articles per year.

Of these journals, about 1200 (or 5%) are Open Access Journals, and
these are the ones indexed by DOAJ.

For the remaining 95% of journals, about 15% of their articles are also
OA, because their authors have self-archived them, many in OAI-compliant

Many (but not yet all) of those self-archived OA articles
are accessible through OAIster, DOAJ's sister-project.

So, to put it all in context: Of all OA articles, about 1/4 of them are
in OA journals and about 3/4 of them are in OA archives (many of them
OAI-compliant, interoperable. There is some redundancy, because OAIster
also harvests OA journal archives, and because some of the some of the
articles in DOAJ are also in OAIster.

But all in all, the more points of access to these OA articles,
the better.

The only thing I would be ready to describe as a "major breakthrough"
for OA, however, would be something that significantly accelerated the
growth of OA from 20% to 100%! The likelihood that this acceleration
will come from the creation/conversion of more of the 20-40,000 journals
to OA journals ("gold") is low. But the likelihood that it will come
from their conversion to "green" (i.e., giving their authors the green
light to self-archive) is higher, as 80% of them have done it already including
the recent announcement by Elsevier that its 1800 journals have all
gone green.

That is still only the *likelihood* of OA. A major breakthrough in
the *actuality* of OA will only come when authors accelerate their OA
self-archiving rate toward 100% All indications are that this will only
come when they are *required* to do so:

Swan & Brown (2004)

    "asked authors to say how they would feel if their employer or
    funding body required them to deposit copies of their published
    articles in ... repositories. The vast majority... said they would
    do so willingly."

    Swan, A. & Brown, S.N. (2004) JISC/OSI Journal Authors Survey
    Swan, A. & Brown, S.N. (2004) Authors and open access publishing.
    Learned Publishing 2004:17(3) 219-224.

So the breakthrough will be when universities and research institutions
and research funders realize that if they want to maximize their research
impact by maximizing access to it, they must require not only "publish
or perish" (as they already do), but also OA provision, by adopting an
official OA provision policy:

The empirical evidence for the huge OA/TA impact advantage is meanwhile
being gathered and being made known to universities, research institutions
and research funders:

> it could also be the germinal form of a proper research tool.

It's all about research *impact*:

The rest is trivial (search engines, etc,)

On Fri, 4 Jun 2004, Stephen Pincock wrote:

> When you say there are between 20,000 and 40,000 journals,
> this seems to me a rather large range--what is the
> estimate based on?

The data are from Ulrich's and Carol Tenopir:

The uncertainty range is because it is uncertain what percentage of the
40,000 is really peer-reviewed journals. At least 22,000 are listed by
their publishers as "refereed" the rest as "academic/scholarly" (but
some of them may be peer-reviewed too)...

I tend to estimate 24,000.

Chrs, S

On Mon, 7 Jun 2004, Peter Suber wrote:

> In an article in today's issue of _The Scientist_ Stephen Pincock quotes me
> on the benefits of article-level searching now offered by the DOAJ. See
> his article at
> He quotes me accurately and I'm happy with the result. But some of you
> might think that one of the quotations is inflammatory, so I'm taking this
> opportunity to explain and elaborate.
> Pincock quotes me as follows:
> >There's a common misunderstanding that making content open access
> >maximizes its visibility and usefulness. It doesn't. Open access brings
> >us to a major plateau of visibility and usefulness, but it's closer to the
> >minimum than the maximum of what we should expect in the digital age.
> Did I mean that OA is not as useful or important as I've been saying all
> these years? Not at all. I only meant that once content is OA, we can
> still do a lot to make it even more visible and useful. DOAJ article-level
> searching is a good example. By making a large number of OA articles
> searchable from the same box, and omitting all other content, it creates
> efficiencies that will definitely help researchers. Although the articles
> are already OA, this service will enhance their visibility in two ways: by
> making them easier to find, and by attracting researchers to a place where
> they are to be found.
> Here are some other examples of improving the visibility and usefulness of
> content that is already OA:
> * The decision by a university (or PubMed Central) to make its OA
> repository interoperable with other OA repositories through the OAI
> metadata harvesting protocol
> * Elsevier's decision to index arXiv and other OA content in Scirus
> * EBSCO's decision to aggregate OA journals alongside conventional journals
> * The decision by most OA journals to offer email-based current awareness
> * The Public Library of Science's decision to use Creative Commons
> machine-readable licenses
> * BioMed Central's decision to use RSS feeds to supplement web-based
> dissemination
> * Yahoo and Google's decisions to start indexing OAI-compliant repositories
> One of the primary benefits of OA is that it makes OA literature available
> for all kinds of further processing --for searching, indexing, mining,
> alerting, summarizing, translating, and connecting. There are no limits to
> these enhancements except the limits on intelligent software. OA is one of
> the first steps on this journey, the precondition of most of the rest, not
> the final destination.
> OA is only the destination in the sense that once we provide it, we can
> take a well-earned rest, knowing that others can come along later and add
> new layers of usefulness retroactively, without asking anyone's permission,
> whenever they have a good idea and figure out how to implement it.
> As I put it in October 2002,
> >In this sense, the true promise of [open access] is not that scientific
> >and scholarly texts will be free and online for reading, copying,
> >printing, and so on, but that they will be available as free online data
> >for software that acts as the antennae, prosthetic eyeballs, research
> >assistants, and personal librarians of all serious researchers.
> Peter Suber
> Research Professor of Philosophy, Earlham College
> Open Access Project Director, Public Knowledge
> Author, SPARC Open Access Newsletter
> Editor, Open Access News blog
Received on Mon Jun 07 2004 - 21:56:16 BST

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