Re: What Provosts Need to Mandate

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Thu, 8 Jul 2004 13:33:23 +0100 (BST)

David Goodman unfortunately misunderstands the nature and purpose of an
institutional requirement to provide Open Access [OA] to publications
-- publications already required by the existing institutional
publish-or-perish policy. The requirement puts no contraint whatsoever
on where or how research is published, only on its accessibility. David
instead gets carried away by some (rather alarmist!) subjective
speculations of his own, having nothing to do with what it being

On Wed, 7 Jul 2004, David Goodman wrote:

> We should never ask or permit any governing body, private or official,
> to impose any requirement on anyone about the manner they choose to
> publish.

No one has proposed anything of the sort! It continues to be 100% up to
the author in what journal they publish. Authors need only provide Open
Access to their publication. It would be a good idea to read the actual
measures proposed, before taking an abstract ideological stance:

It would also be a good idea to note what authors themselves say about
such a requirement:

Swan & Brown's (2004) JISC/OSI author survey

    "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.

> The most that can safely be said is that just as an individual university
> can insist on certain arbitrary standards for publications that count
> for hiring, promotion or tenure, it can insist on OA for that purpose.

Completely irrelevant. We are not talking about setting arbitrary
standards for publishing. We are talking about publishing in the
peer-reviewed journals of the authors' choice, exactly as before,
but about now making those articles openly accessible online to all their
would-be users toll-free, so as to maximize their usage and impact.

> It is a dangerous error to say that any such requirement may be imposed
> by a political body or by a funding body, or on a state- or nation-wide
> basis. To illustrate, suppose an organization or government were to
> demand that none of them be published in OA journals--they have no more
> right to do that than to do the opposite.

David has gone off into subjective speculations of his own here. What
was proposed was merely that authors should provide toll-free access to
their publications by adding a few extra keystrokes to the ones they
already to in order to write, submit, and revise them for publication --
to self-archive them.

Yes, a university and funding agency *can* (and should, and will) require
these few extra keystrokes -- as surely as it can require the keystrokes
for publishing in the first place.

Let us not wrap this simple, reasonable (and probable) measure in an
alarmist mantle of "dangerous errors," "state requirements," and
"arbitrary standards." We are talking about providing OA to our journal
articles, that's all!

Stevan Harnad
Received on Thu Jul 08 2004 - 13:33:23 BST

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