Re: Proposed update of BOAI definition of OA: Immediate and Permanent

From: guedon <>
Date: Sun, 13 Mar 2005 12:56:08 -0500

I would agree with Stevan, and would propose to begin by looking over
and updating Peter's overview with the goal of building a reference

Just to give an example relating to a recent exchange between Stevan and
myself, the word publication was at stake. It turns out that for Stevan
a publication is a published article; this is indeed a common and
legitimate use of the term. However, from a librarian or publisher
perspective, a publication is a journal with the result that a
librarian/publisher publication is made up of researchers'
publications... quite confusing indeed.

Let us push the question just a little further: what is a researcher's
publication? is it a peer-reviewed article? Does the peer-review have to
be done by a journal? Does it have to be published in a journal? And, by
the way, what does "publishing" really mean? Placing in the public eye
for example through some web site, or depending on an established
institution that claims the mediating role of "publisher"? In short,
vocabulary cleaning would be useful here, and it would be useful in two
ways: for the vocabulary structure itself, of course, but also as a way
to provide an interesting terrain to negotiate the exact terms of open


Jean-Claude Guédon

Le dimanche 13 mars 2005 à 15:27 +0000, Stevan Harnad a écrit :
> Note to Peter Suber and the original formulators of the Budapest Open
> Access Initiative:
> Peter,
> I would like to suggest that this is the right time, in light of
> recent developments, to update the BOAI definition of OA
> to make explicit what was already implicit in it: That OA must be *now*
> and must be *permanent* (not, for example, a feature that is provided
> for an instant, a century from now).
> I think this was always perfectly obvious to anyone who read the BOAI
> definition of OA, but, as people will do, those with a vested interest
> in doing so found a loophole in the wording as it now stands. This
> is easily remediable by adding and announcing the obvious "immediate"
> (upon acceptance for publication) and "permanent" that should have been
> stated explicitly in the first place.
> I think we overlooked this partly because we could not second-guess
> all conceivable self-serving construals by opponents of OA, but partly
> because we were trying to be as encouraging as possible about partial
> measures. Yet we were very careful, and should now be even moreso, not to
> allow the notion of "partial-OA" -- which is on a direct slippery-slope
> in which TA (toll-access) too would become construable as just another form
> of partial-OA!
> Delayed free-access and temporary free-access are forms of access, to be
> sure -- and some is generally better than none, more is generally better
> than less -- but OA itself is only complete free access, immediate and
> permanent, for everyone and anyone, anytime, anywhere webwide. Otherwise
> *all* access would be OA, and the rest would just be a matter of degree
> (or, in the words of the wag, we would have agreed on our profession
> and we would now be merely haggling about the price!)
> The BOAI definition was not etched in stone. 3+ years of experience have
> now suggested ways in which it can be clarified and optimized. This is
> a good time to make explicit what was already implicit in it, which is:
> OA is a *trait* of an article, not an evanescent *state*. Just as an
> article *is* OA if it is freely accessible online, an article is *not*
> OA if it is *not* freely accessible online, and hence an article that
> is not immediately accessible freely online is not OA and an article
> that is no longer freely accessible online is not OA (and never was
> -- within the limits of inductive uncertainty and the impossibility
> of clairvoyance, i.e., if the oboslescence was planned).
> Being accessible might be a transitory state, but being OA has to be an
> all-or-none trait. Researchers don't need access to research *eventually*,
> or *temporarily* or *sometimes* or *somewhere*: *All* researchers need OA
> to *all* research, immediately, permanently, at all times, and everywhere
> (webwide).
> I suggest that we announce the following update to the passage that starts:
> "By "open access" to this literature, we mean its free availability
> on the public internet, permitting..."
> to:
> "By "open access" to this literature, we mean its free availability
> on the public internet, immediately and permanantly, permitting..."
> Those with an interest in blocking or minimzing non-toll-based access
> will of course scream that BOAI is "moving the goalposts!" but I think
> anyone who thinks clearly and honestly about the interests of the research
> community and of research itself, and what was the fundamental rationale
> and motivation for OA in the first place, will see that this is merely
> highlighting what the goal has been all along, not moving it.
> Stevan Harnad
> ---------- Forwarded message ----------
> Date: Sun, 13 Mar 2005 03:30:27 +0000 (GMT)
> From: Stevan Harnad <>
> To: Richard Poynder <>
> Subject: Poynder's Blog-Point
> Hi Richard,
> Re:
> One thing you missed: The "immediate" and "permanent" are and always
> were implicit in the BOAI definition of OA: An article is OA *if and
> when it is freely accessible online*. Obviously when it is *not*, it
> is not OA, so that excludes any embargo period, or any temporary
> "hook" period, withdrawn afterward!
> The goal of OA is to make *all* articles OA: Not all articles OA
> after a while, or for a while. The answer to the question "Is this
> article OA?" has to be "yes", not "no". If an article can be OA
> some of the time, and not OA other times, then you may as well say
> an article can be OA to some people and not to other people (which
> is exactly what toll-access is: OA to those who can pay, non-OA to
> those who cannot).
> Immediacy and permanence is as intrinsic to the fundamental rationale
> for OA as the full-text's being on-line and toll-free is. Researchers
> don't want to keep losing 6-12 months of research impact and progress,
> and call that Open Access.
> Back Access is a cynical sop, any way you look at it, and a deplorable
> attempt to misuse both the principle of OA and the rationale underlying
> it.
> I hope the Immediate Institutional Keystroke Policy as a default bottom
> line will put an end to any further inclination to try to use the
> Back-Access Ploy, for it immunizes institutions completely from any
> pressure for an embargo (the N-1 metadata and text entry keystrokes
> are required, for internal purposes; the Nth OA keystroke is strongly
> encouraged but up to the author), leaving the dominoes to fall naturally
> (and anarchically) of their own accord. Sensible institutions won't
> even bother formalizing the Nth keystroke as optional, but will deal
> with it, if need be, on a case by case basis.
> About arxiv, sure, I'll comment if you find something interesting and
> relevant, but I'm already well talked-out on the old saws about (1)
> "overlay journals," (2) "we function at the level of preprints, we
> just submit to journals for the sake of our tenure committees," (3)
> "download data are noisy, dangerous, and violate privacy," and (4)
> "Harnad doesn't know what he's talking about."...
> Chrs, Stevan
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Received on Sun Mar 13 2005 - 17:56:08 GMT

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