Critique of Stanford/HighWire Press Critique of NIH Proposal

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Sat, 20 Nov 2004 01:12:19 +0000

As Publisher of Stanford University and High Wire Press *and* Director of
Stanford University Libraries, Michael Keller is wearing two hats; and in
his recommendations below it is quite clear that one of them is weighing
more heavily on him than the other.

There is yet a third hat, and one that Michael does not wear -- something
of the order of Stanford University Vice President for Research. If
Michael wore that hat too, he would see the *profound* conflict of interest
inherent in what he here unhesitantly resolves in favor of the interests
of the publisher (hat).

And if Michael were an NIH-funded researcher, bleeding potential research
impact daily, weekly, monthly because of all the would-be users of his
research whose institutional library (hat) cannot afford to access it,
Michael would *feel* (and not just see, as the Research VP would see)
what the real purpose of the NIH public access policy was.

Michael compares the amount of OA provided by High Wire publishers,
voluntarily, with the amount of OA that would be provided by NIH authors,
under the NIH mandate (lately downgraded to "request"!). This is comparing
charity with (mandated!) self-help! The NIH public-access supplement is
intended for all those would-be users who cannot access the NIH research
today, despite publisher charity. And researchers, their institutions
and their funders, as well as research itself, cannot afford to keep
bleeding impact needlessly while waiting for publisher charity to stanch
the flow, one day.

    "Guide for the Perplexed: Re: UK Select Committee Inquiry"

    "Critique of PSP/AAP Critique of NIH Proposal"

    "Critique of STM Critique of NIH Proposal"

Stevan Harnad

On Thu, 18 Nov 2004, Liblicense-L Listowner wrote:

> Of possible interest; sections excerpted below.
> URL for full text of letter to Zerhouni:
> A complementary comment from the American Physiological Society:
> ____
> 15 November 2004
> Dr. Elias A. Zerhouni
> Director
> National Institutes of Health
> 9000 Rockville Pike
> Bethesda, Maryland 20892
> Re: NIH Notice on Enhanced Public Access to NIH Research Information
> NOT-OD-04-64 (September 3, 2004)
> Notice for Comment, 69 Fed. Reg. 56074 (September 17, 2004)
> Dear Dr. Zerhouni:
> [SNIP]
> Additionally, the NIH proposal flies in the face of considerable
> innovation and enormously improved public access already undertaken by
> numerous publishers receiving services from HighWire Press, a not for
> profit, enterprise of the Stanford University Libraries. Since 1997, many
> not for profit publishers associated with HighWire Press have engaged in
> two programs of enhancing access to stm literature. One of those
> programs, free back issues (FBI), now presents over 770,000 articles in
> the life sciences and medicine free along with numerous additional
> Internet features to any and all readers around the world. Another of
> those programs, toll free linking, allows readers of any article (whether
> free or controlled) in the suite of HighWire titles to read free the full
> text article of any cited article that happens as well to be available
> on-line through HighWire’s services; toll free linking probably accounts
> for another 200,000 free articles thereby. Let me compare the HighWire
> Press (HW) enhanced public access program to the progress made by PubMed
> Central (PMC) in the past few years.
> PMC has 160 publications, from 23 different publishers. HW has 686
> publications, from 130 different publishers (about 350 of them are life
> science publications, from 129 publishers)
> 70% of the publications in PMC are from one publisher: the for-profit,
> British-owned BioMed Central. That publisher accounts for only 3% of the
> articles in PMC however. Furthermore, BioMed Central has been indexed and
> included in Medline/PubMed before its articles achieved any particular
> impact factor and before any citation studies had been made, purely on the
> basis of a political decision concerning the business model, that of Open
> Access/Author Pays. The very same criticism might be leveled at the
> inclusion of the publications of the Public Library of Science as well;
> they have been included in Medline and PubMed before they have earned
> inclusion, as all other publications have had to earn in the past, by
> demonstrated interest of other scientific and clinical researchers in
> their articles.
> PMC has >325,000 free articles.
> HW has >770,000 free articles.
> PMC has 160 journals that provide free content.
> HW has 214 journals that provide free content.
> PMC has 330,000 total articles.
> HW has 2 million total articles, 1,343,000 full text articles.
> 92% of the articles in PMC are also in HW. So, other than the 3% of PMC
> articles coming from BioMed Central, only an additional 5% of PMC articles
> have been made more accessible than otherwise, and all of those are from
> publishers not associated with HighWire Press and its free back issues
> program.
> 50% of the publishers in PMC are also in HW
> About 45% of the 200 most frequently cited STM journals are with HW;
> About 7% of the 200 most frequently cited STM journals are in PMC.
> 5 of the top 6 general medical journals are with HW;
> 1 of the top 6 general medical journals is in PMC.
> An easy conclusion, then, is that the not for profit publishers associated
> with HighWire Press acting independently from any government regulation
> have already done more for enhanced public access than the government’s
> own efforts. Rather than mandating by regulatory process enhancement of a
> government program that appears to be at best a pale imitation of the
> efforts of responsible publishers and their private not for profit
> Internet service provider, HighWire Press, I suggest that the NIH and
> those responsible publishers work together on ways to expand by example
> public access while still making it possible for private American
> publishing enterprises, namely the American scholarly societies, to
> continue their good works. Publishers should be encouraged, but not
> required, to make their articles free after a period of time consistent
> with their need to receive income from subscriptions or other sources.
> Publishers should decide what the period of time of controlled access
> should be. More encouragement and support for programs that emulate the
> HighWire Press free back issues programs should be provided. Further, the
> proposals presented to you by Martin Frank of the American Physiological
> Society for the signatory organizations to the DC Principles on 28 October
> 2004 and reiterated in a comment to you on the NIH proposal of 16 November
> 2994 that propose enhancements to the information indexed and presented by
> Medline and PubMed are preferable in substance and effect to the current
> NIH proposal.
> Yours truly,
> -^~-^~-^~-^~-^~-^~-^~-^~-^~-^~-^~-^~-^~-^~-^~
> Michael A. Keller
> University Librarian
> Director of Academic Information Resources
> Publisher of HighWire Press
> Publisher of Stanford University Press
> Stanford University
> 101 Green Library
> Stanford, CA 94305-6004
> U.S.A.
> voice: +1-650-723-5553
> fax: +1-650-725-4902
> e-mail:
> homepage:
Received on Sat Nov 20 2004 - 01:12:19 GMT

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