Re: Blackwell Publishing & Online Open

From: Matthew Cockerill <matt_at_BIOMEDCENTRAL.COM>
Date: Mon, 7 Mar 2005 17:26:34 -0000

Blackwell and Springer's optional Open Access initiatives are steps in the
right direction, but they share some less attractive similarities too.

Despite charging the author (in return for 'Open Access'), each publisher
still retains for itself the exclusive rights to the final 'official'
version of the published article. Yes, it can be obtained (without charge)
from the publisher's website, but it cannot (without explicit consent from
the publisher) be reprinted or redistributed (even in the developing world
or for educational purposes), and nor can the structured XML be downloaded
for datamining or other forms of reuse. In neither case is the 'official'
final version of the article allowed to be archived in institutional
repositories, or in a central repository such as PubMed Central.

If publishers claim to offer 'Open Access', and are charging authors for the
privilege, it really does not make sense for them to be reserving for
themselves these exclusive rights.

Springer's claim that:

        "To protect the rights of authors and to guarantee a high standard
        quality, Springer will continue to require standard
        and transfer-of-copyright agreements. Copying, reproducing,
        or posting of the publisher's version of the article on a third
party server
        is not permitted. This enables Springer to provide the benefit of
free online
        access while preserving scientific integrity and author

is unconvincing in the extreme. In the pre-digital days, scientific
integrity was not threatened by the fact that each institution's library
held its own copy of the 'final published version', yet we are asked to
believe that the sky will fall in if libraries were allowed to hold an
openly accessible copy of the final version in their own digital

The examples of BioMed Central and Public Library of Science surely
demonstrate that the sky does not fall in as a result of allowing (and
indeed encouraging) reuse and redistribution of the final version. [For one
thing, if you wish to see the official version of an article, delivered from
the publisher's site, it's extremely easy to do so, simply by using the DOI,
which always links back to the publisher's site.]

In my opinion, authors should demand that if publishers are going to charge
for an Open Access option, it should be one that complies with the
definition of Open Access set out in the Bethesda Statement on Open Access
(i.e. it should allow both redistribution and reuse of the final version).

Unfortunately, both Springer and Blackwell's 'open access' options fall far
short of this...

Matt Cockerill
Matthew Cockerill Ph.D.
Technical Director
BioMed Central ( )
34-42, Cleveland Street


> -----Original Message-----
> From: American Scientist Open Access Forum
> Behalf Of Michael Fraser
> Sent: 07 March 2005 16:34
> Subject: Blackwell Publishing & Online Open
> [only forward to list if this hasn't been mentioned before]
> Another 'green' publisher opts for the equivalent of Springer's Open
> Choice:
> Blackwell opens its arms to OA
> "Society publishers Blackwell Publishing has entered the Open
> Access (OA)
> fray with the launch of Online Open, an author pays model.
> Blackwell has
> adopted an author choice and payment scheme similar to Springer Open
> Choice, announced last year. [...]"
> (and
> Mike
> ---
> Dr Michael Fraser
> Co-ordinator, Research Technologies Service & Head of Humbul
> Oxford University Computing Services
> 13 Banbury Road
> Oxford OX2 6NN
> Tel: 01865 283 343
> Fax: 01865 273 275
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