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

From: <Ray.English_at_OBERLIN.EDU>
Date: Sun, 30 Jan 2005 17:33:58 -0500

In response to Stevan Harnad's comment below, I think it's important to
note that the revised NIH policy (as best we can determine it, since it
hasn't been officially announced yet) is actually closer to OA than the
policy that NIH vetted earlier. As Peter Suber noted in an earlier message
today, It gives the researcher control over when the article will be made
openly accessible, without having to request permission from the publisher.
Authors have the clear option to make their work openly accessible
immediately at the time of publication. (The policy also calls for
articles that are deposited to become openly accessible after 12 months, if
the author did not choose earlier open access.)
I think it remains to be seen if this will turn out to be better or worse
than the original NIH proposal that had a six-month delay, with earlier
open access only with permission of the publisher. It will be possible to
measure the outcome based on the percentage of research articles funded by
NIH that are deposited in PubMed Central and the average time from
publication to open access.

Ray English
Director of Libraries
Oberlin College

> 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
> A complete Hypermail archive of the ongoing discussion of providing
> open access to the peer-reviewed research literature online (1998-2004)
> is available at:
> To join or leave the Forum or change your subscription address:
> m.html Post discussion to:
> UNIVERSITIES: If you have adopted or plan to adopt an institutional
> policy of providing Open Access to your own research article output,
> please describe your policy at:
> 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 Sun Jan 30 2005 - 22:33:58 GMT

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