Re: Berlin-3 Open Access Conference, Southampton, Feb 28 - Mar 1 2005

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Mon, 21 Feb 2005 02:33:05 +0000

On Sun, 20 Feb 2005, Anthony Watkinson wrote:

> the PLOS... signatories pledged:
> "To encourage the publishers of our journals to support this
> endeavor, we pledge that, beginning in September 2001, we will
> publish in, edit or review for, and personally subscribe to
> only those scholarly and scientific journals that have agreed
> to grant unrestricted free distribution rights to any and all
> original research reports that they have published, through
> PubMed Central and similar online public resources, within 6
> months of their initial publication date".
> I may be totally wrong but I would be very surprised if all those who made
> this pledge have stuck to it. It would be quite easy for someone with time
> and money to go check the list of signatories against the publication
> records so kindly provided by ISI - but why bother?

No need to check. As I (and others) have noted (and a little reflection would
have revealed a priori) the 34,000 signatories (I was one of them) did it with
their fingers crossed (in both senses): There was no "plan B"! If publishers
did not agree to provide free access by the appointed deadline (September 2001),
there was nowhere else for these authors to turn. Rome could not be rebuilt
in a day!

I too signed with the 34,000, out of solidarity, but not because
I believed for one minute that it would have any other effect than
to make it clear how strongly the research community desired Open Access
(OA). For already then it was clear that the fastest, easiest and surest
road to OA was the green road of author self-archiving, not the golden
road of converting publishers, which is what the PLoS Open Letter was
demanding. (PLoS then went on to become a publisher itself.)

> However this is the past. If the academic community in large numbers
> accepted what Professor Harnad believes in as self-evident by changing
> their behaviour, publishing will change. Publishers follow what their
> authors want. If they do not follow what their authors want they do not
> get authors.

But publishers have already done their part! They need do no more: Ninety-two
percent of journals are already green:

That means they have given their green light to self-archiving. It is
the *authors* who have not yet taken them up on that green light; and that
compounds still further the "Keystroke Koan" ("why did they care enough
about OA to do the keystrokes to sign the open letter demanding that
publishers provide OA for them, when with a few more keystrokes they
could provide it for themselves!"):

    "Re: The "big koan'" (May 2002)

    "A Keystroke Koan For Our Open Access Times" (Oct 2003)

The key to the understanding the Keystroke Koan has just been given on
this list by Dr. Alma Swan (aptly enough, of Key Perspectives, Ltd.!):

The majority of authors are still uninformed about self-archiving; but
even when informed, they are busy and will no more do the keystrokes to
self-archive than they will do the keystrokes to write up and publish
their research -- unless their employers and funders require it. But if
they do require it, the vast majority of authors report they will do it,
and do it willingly.

    Swan, A. & Brown, S. (2004) Authors and open access publishing.
    Learned Publishing 17: 219-224

Both the (stunningly small) number of keystrokes/minutes per paper that
are actually at issue here and a model institutional "keystroke" policy
will be reported at the forthcoming Berlin 3 conference on Southampton on
implementing the Berlin Open Access Declaration (February 28 & March 1):

Stevan Harnad

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Received on Mon Feb 21 2005 - 02:33:05 GMT

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