Re: Bethesda statement on open access publishing

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Sun, 13 Mar 2005 02:12:33 +0000

    (1) For OA purposes, a *publication* is a peer-reviewed journal
    article that one has published (we ignore here other publications such
    as books, textbooks, magazine/newspaper articles, poems, plays, etc.)

    (2) For academic CV purposes, I list my published journal articles
    under "Publications."

    (3) I list my unpublished papers as "Unpublished." (Those that
    are planned for submission or submitted, I may list as "Submitted
    for Publication".)

    (4) Those that are accepted for publication are listed as "Accepted
    for Publication."

    (5) Any of the above might be self-archived: That does not
    make them "Published" or "Publications." (Nor does it make them
    "Re-Published.) It just makes them OA.

It therefore follows that there is a *major* piece of equivocation in
calling the Bethesda definition of an OA Publication a definition of

An article that is published in an OA journal is most certainly an
OA publication. But what is an article that is published in a non-OA
journal, to which Open Access has been *provided* by the author, by
self-archiving it in his institutional archive? It is certainly a
*publication*, and it is certainly *OA*, but it does not meet the Bethesda
definition of an "OA publication"! -- And that's the point.

    Garfield: "Acknowledged Self-Archiving is Not Prior Publication"

I have already answered all of J-C Guedon's points below, and many more,
in great and painstaking detail, in a line-by-line critique in Ariadne
of his own recent Serials Review article "Mixing and Matching Green and

    Harnad, S. (2005) Fast-Forward on the Green Road to Open
    Access: The Case Against Mixing Up Green and Gold. Ariadne 43

I regret I haven't the time to repeat the exercise here. Perhaps
Jean-Claude will find the time to give equally painstaking attention to
my published critique; then we will see whether there is anything more to
be said. Failing that, I shall have to leave it to other members of the Forum
to take up Jean-Claude's challenge about publications, publishing, OA
publications, OA publishing, access-provision, "branding," and OA itself.

I do remind AmSci Forum members, however, that there are now at least
three Open Access Forums. This one is the oldest and has since 1998
been treating all aspects of what has since come to be called "OA," but
now it has been re-dedicated specifically to institutional OA Policy
discussion. The AmSci Forum now includes the provosts of the major US
universities; US, Canadian and British funding agency officers; and
representatives of many European and Asian universities and research
institutions. The explicit focus of the Forum is matters pertaining to
designing and implementing concrete, practical institutional Open Access
Provision Policy. Matters without concrete, practical institutional OA
Policy implications should preferably be redirected to either the BOAI
OA Forum or the Sparc OA Forum (so as not to drive the policy-makers
out of this Forum!):

I have branched this message, containing Jean-Claude's full posting,
unanswered, to those two other Fora, in case anyone there wishes to
take up the discussion.

Stevan Harnad

On Sat, 12 Mar 2005, guedon wrote:

> It would be really useful to try distinguishing between open access,
> open access publishing and open access publication.
> In my book, open access, by definition, is open to the public and,
> therefore, is a form of publishing. As a result, all open access belongs
> to the set of open access publishing. Starting from the other end, all
> open access publishing is necessarily in open access and therefore is
> open access. Conclusion, open access and open access publishing are
> synonyms.
> "Open access publication" refers to a publishing structure that is at
> least inspired by the model of a traditional journal. Peer-reviewed
> articles are placed in open access under a single title such as PLoS
> Medicine. "Open access publication" is a particular strategy within open
> access publishing and it aims at taking full advantage of the branding
> capacity of journals.
> Open access publishing can exist without any form of branding; open
> access publications cannot.
> One of the theses I presented in a recent paper
> ( is that one
> reason why pure OA publishing (i.e. using open access repositories
> without any further requirements or qualifications) is not terribly
> attractive to a great many authors (at least in the rich countries) is
> that they cannot clearly see the advantages in doing so. Preliminary
> research tends to demonstrate that there are advantages, but
> confirmations are greatly needed and better publicity of the fact is
> required. Meanwhile, most scientists remain indifferent to the
> repositories. Even with huge advocacy efforts, as is the case at the
> University of Glasgow, only about 20% of the papers get deposited.
> Clearly, there is a problem.
> In response to this problem, all Stevan Harnad has found is to push for
> some form of mandating. While this is realistic enough, it also
> demonstrates the limits of pure OA à la Harnad. Arguing in favour of
> mandating is also an admission of these limits.
> In the paper mentioned above, I argued that, in parallel with mandating
> (not against it, mind you), finding ways to make the repositories
> profitable from an author's viewpoint was important. I suggested that
> what made publications (as distinguished from publishing) attractive to
> authors is their branding ability and I therefore suggested a way to
> build similar capacity with institutional repositories.
> Note that in all of this, I have not said a negative word against the
> repositories, archiving, open access, etc. Quite the contrary! All I
> have said is that the green road left to its pure devices does not seem
> to possess what is needed to bring about full open access publishing (=
> open access as per above). I support the green roads, but simply ask we
> go a step further. And I do not believe advocating this blurs the
> vision, deters efforts or slows down the movement toward OA, quite the
> contrary. Unlike Stevan harnad, I do not see these two approaches as
> competing with each other; neither do I see them as part of some kind of
> zero-sum game where doing work in one way can only deter, weaken or
> defer progress toward OA.
> Jean-Claude Guédon
> Le samedi 12 mars 2005 à 17:00 +0000, Stevan Harnad a écrit :
> > Amsci Topic Thread began:
> > "Bethesda statement on open access publishing" (Jun 2003)
> >
> >
> > I think it is time to revisit the definition of Open Access:
> >
> > A meeting on April 11 2003 in Bethesda MD generated the "Bethesda
> > Statement on Open Access *Publishing* [sic]".
> >
> >
> >
> > That meeting -- note that it both called itself and was a meeting on
> > "Open Access Publishing", not on Open Access -- generated a "definition"
> > of "An Open Access Publication". This inadequate definition began (or was
> > a prominent milestone) in a systematic equivocation that has persisted
> > ever since.
> >
> > What was defined there was not "Open Access Publishing," but "An Open
> > Access Publication" -- and it was explicitly stated of the specific
> > property that was there being defined that "Open access is a property of
> > individual *works*, not necessarily journals or publishers".
> >
> > The Bethesda definition went as follows:
> >
> > "An Open Access Publication [N1] is one that meets the following two
> > conditions:
> >
> > 1. The author(s) and copyright holder(s) grant(s) to all users a free,
> > irrevocable, worldwide, perpetual right of access to, and a license to
> > copy, use, distribute, transmit and display the work publicly and to
> > make and distribute derivative works, in any digital medium for any
> > responsible purpose, subject to proper attribution of authorship,
> > as well as the right to make small numbers of printed copies for
> > their personal use.
> >
> > [N1. Open access is a property of individual works, not necessarily
> > journals or publishers.]"
> >
> > Note that this sounds very much like a specific Creative Commons License,
> > by way of *defining* an OA work. (CC Licenses are extremely important,
> > useful, and desirable, but they neither define nor are they necessary
> > for OA!)
> >
> > Archiving, in this exceedingly Gold-biassed Bethesda definition of OA,
> > is relegated to providing access to and preserving the works that meet the
> > Bethesda definition, which means either articles published in OA journals,
> > or articles for which the author has adopted something equivalent to a
> > CC license as stipulated in 1, above. It certainly does *not* pertain to
> > articles published in non-OA journals, with whatever copyright agreements
> > they may already have, which are simply self-archived by their authors
> > in their institutional OA repositories (and which are hence not OA under
> > the Bethesda definition):
> >
> > "2. A complete version of the work and all supplemental materials,
> > including a copy of the permission as stated above, in a suitable
> > standard electronic format is deposited immediately upon initial
> > publication in at least one online repository that is supported by
> > an academic institution, scholarly society, government agency, or
> > other well-established organization that seeks to enable open access,
> > unrestricted distribution, interoperability, and long-term archiving
> > (for the biomedical sciences, PubMed Central is such a repository)."
> >
> > Contrast this with the BOAI definition of OA (2001)
> >
> >
> > This definition first specifies the target "literature" in question
> > as "[p]rimarily... peer-reviewed journal articles, but... also... any
> > unreviewed preprints that [authors] might wish to put online":
> >
> > "By "open access" to this literature, we mean its free availability
> > on the public internet, permitting any users to read, download,
> > copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of these
> > articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software,
> > or use them for any other lawful purpose, without financial, legal,
> > or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining
> > access to the internet itself. The only constraint on reproduction
> > and distribution, and the only role for copyright in this domain,
> > should be to give authors control over the integrity of their work
> > and the right to be properly acknowledged and cited."
> >
> >
> > This awkward but adequate BOAI definition is not ideal either, being
> > far too wordy and formalistic, but essentially it says, correctly,
> > that an article is OA if it is
> >
> > *freely accessible on the web to any user, anywhere, who has access
> > to the web*
> >
> > (It is also implicit, though unstated, that an article is *not* OA if/when
> > the free online full-text access to it is *not* immediate or permanent.)
> >
> > Anyone-and-everyone's being able to read, download, print, search, link
> > and pass the full-text to software analyses comes with the territory
> > if an article is made freely accessible on the Web. So does crawling
> > and indexing by google and others.
> >
> > "Copy and distribute" is equivocal, but irrelevant, as one can distribute
> > the URL to anyone one might have wanted to copy and distribute the paper
> > to -- to download and print it for themselves. (And OA, let us remind
> > ourselves, is about providing free access to the *online* text, not to
> > the *on-paper* text: The rest just comes naturally with the territory!) It
> > could still be "unlawful" to distribute paper copies, or to republish or
> > re-sell the article, but that is not what OA is about either (although
> > it might be part of what OA *publishing* [Gold] is concerned about).
> >
> > Among the many untoward effects of the Gold-biassed Bethesda definition,
> > was to have it re-enshrined *verbatim* in October 2003 in the Berlin
> > Declaration as the "Definition of an Open Access Contribution [!]"
> >
> >
> >
> > This has effectively delayed translating the Berlin Declaration into a
> > concrete, implementable institutional OA policy (since institutions cannot
> > create or convert Gold journals, nor can they require their researchers
> > to publish in them: at most they can encourage and help fund them) until
> > the recent Berlin 3 meeting in Southampton where the delegates at last
> > agreed -- on the basis of the pattern, reported repeatedly at the meeting,
> > of what has proved successful in practise at many institutions worldwide
> > -- to recommend that the implementation of the Berlin Declaration take
> > the following form:
> >
> > "In order to implement the Berlin Declaration institutions should
> >
> > 1. Implement a policy to require their researchers to deposit
> > a copy of all their published articles in an open access
> > repository.
> >
> > and
> >
> > 2. Encourage their researchers to publish their research
> > articles in open access journals where a suitable journal
> > exists and provide the support to enable that to happen."
> >
> > This effectively corrects the Bethesda Bias toward Gold and at last gives
> > the two roads to OA -- Green and Gold -- the weight and priority that is
> > proportional to their immediate capacity and probability of providing
> > OA. it is also based on a realistic conception of what it is that
> > an institution can and cannot adopt by way of an institutional OA policy.
> >
> >
> > [to be published in a few days]
> >
> > I will not repeat here the many ways (amply documented in the American
> > Scientist Open Access Forum) in which the one-sided "gold rush" of
> > the past 3 years has slowed OA progress (in the press, in government
> > inquiries, and in the understandably confused minds of onlookers from the
> > research community and general public). Let us hope that it is over
> > now, and that we are now seeking greener vistas for OA rather than only
> > "all that glitters"!
> >
> > "The Green and Gold Roads to Open Access"
> >
> >
> > "AAU misinterprets House Appropriations Committee Recommendation"
> >
> >
> > "The UK report, press coverage, and the Green and Gold Roads to Open Access"
> >
> >
> > "Drubbing Peter to Pay Paul"
> >
> >
> > "Guide for the Perplexed: Re: UK Select Committee Inquiry"
> >
> >
> > 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:
> >
> > 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-1 ("green"): Publish your article in a suitable toll-access journal
> >
> > OR
> > BOAI-2 ("gold"): Publish your article in a open-access journal if/when
> > a suitable one exists.
> >
> > AND
> > in BOTH cases self-archive a supplementary version of your article
> > in your institutional repository.
> >
> >
Received on Sun Mar 13 2005 - 02:12:33 GMT

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