Re: Blackwell Publishing & Online Open

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Mon, 7 Mar 2005 21:24:55 +0000

    Prior AmSci Thread:
        "Free Access vs. Open Access"

On Mon, 7 Mar 2005, Matthew Cockerill wrote:

> 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.

(1) It is up to authors whether or not they wish to pay for this new
product/service option. They can decline, or try to re-negotiate, if
they wish.

(2) It is not at all clear, however, what reprinting, redistribution
or re-use is *needed* for an article whose full-text is permanently
available for free online to any user, any time, anywhere. (This seems
to me to be based on obsolete paper-based thinking in an age of online

(3) As to online "datamining": I am not sure what you have in mind. The
full-text is online, free, downloadable, and analyzable, by anyone,
anywhere. It just may not be republished by a thrid party.

(4) Moreover, both these publishers are both *green*, which means that the
author can self-archive his own final, revised, peer-reviewed draft as
a supplement on his own website, including any enhancements (e.g., XML)
that he may wish to add to it.

> 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.

It seems to me that -- whatever these publishers are offering -- it is
up to authors whether or not they wish to buy it. These publishers must
nevertheless be given credit for both being *green* on self-archiving. (If
they were *gray* on self-achiving, that would be another story, but they
are not! Credit where credit is due!)

> Springer's claim that:
> "To protect the rights of authors and to guarantee a high standard of
> quality, Springer will continue to require standard consent-to-publish
> and transfer-of-copyright agreements. Copying, reproducing, distributing,
> 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 attribution."
> 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
> repositories.
> 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.]

All true, but BMC and PLoS have chosen to be full OA ("gold") publishers
and Blackwell and Springer have not. Surely that is their prerogative
(i.e., publishers are not to be faulted for not deciding to adopt what
they take to be a risky economic model), particularly as, being green,
both publishers, are clearly not standing in the way of 100% OA, if
their authors, their institutions and their funders wish to provide it.

> 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
> publishing:
> (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...

They *can* demand it if they feel they need it, and if refused, they can refuse
to buy the product/service -- and simply self-archive their own postprints.

Stevan Harnad

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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-1 ("green"): Publish your article in a suitable toll-access journal
    BOAI-2 ("gold"): Publish your article in a open-access journal if/when
            a suitable one exists.
    in BOTH cases self-archive a supplementary version of your article
            in your institutional repository.
Received on Mon Mar 07 2005 - 21:24:55 GMT

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