Re: Open Access vs. NIH Back Access and Nature's Back-Sliding

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Sun, 30 Jan 2005 17:07:23 +0000 (GMT)

> From: venkatachalam <>
> To: BOAI Forum <>
> Subject: changes in NIH and nature policies
> dear members
> greetings
> i hear with concern that NIH has increased the embargo period for
> release of NIH funded research info from the earlier 6 months to
> 1 year.

> simultaneously, the leading magazine, nature has announced that
> it is reviewing its policy of granting self archiving privilege to
> its authors.

> i believe that both developments, if confirmed, are a blow to further
> development of our open access movement. these can very well impede the
> rapid flow of scientific information without barriers or restrictions.
> i do not have the complete details and i have addressed both
> organisations about this.

> i would welcome feedback from our members on these important issues.

> yours
> v.lakshminarayanan
> palani india

These developments are not a blow to the OA movement, they are merely a challenge,
a challenge that can and will be met in the following way:

(1) The NIH Proposal -- provisionally supported by the OA movement, will
now no longer be supported as it stands by the OA movement:

NIH's 6-12 month embargoed access is not Open Access but Back Access, and
if it had continued to be supported by the OA movement as a step toward
OA it would have had the exact opposite effect, locking in a 6-12-month
access delay for years to come, and providing a pretext to publishers
like Nature to Back-Slide from their prior policy of giving their authors
the green light to self-archive immediately -- a policy that had been
adopted to accommodate the expressed wishes of the research community to
maximise access -- to a policy of 6-month embargo and mere Back Access.

(2) Nature's Back-Sliding, like NIH's Back Access Policy, will be
portrayed as exactly what it is:

Nature's is a recent policy change adopted so as to minimize possible risk to
publishers' revenue streams even though all actual evidence is the
opposite: that toll-access and self-archiving can co-exist peacefully for
years to come, with no effect on journal revenue streams. Hence Nature's
back-sliding is entirely contrary to the interests of research and
researchers, minimizing a minimal hypothetical risk, against all evidence,
at the expense of maximal benefits to research and researchers for which
there is a growing body of evidence -- and done on the NIH-supplied pretext
of being in the service of research and researchers and a step toward OA!

Stay tuned.

Stevan Harnad

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Received on Sun Jan 30 2005 - 17:07:23 GMT

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