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

From: Leslie Chan <>
Date: Sun, 13 Mar 2005 21:26:43 -0500

I am against updating the BOAI definition of OA because I think the
current definition is more than adequate and the proposed update is
needlessly confusing, as Heather's reply and Stevan's further attempt at
clarification aptly demonstrates. No one knows what "permanent" means in
the digital realm, so why add that level of uncertainly.

The current definition is sufficiently clear and sufficiently flexible to
allow a broad range of approaches to OA, from author self-archiving of
untagged paper to self-archiving of paper in OAI-compliant institutional
repository, and from hybrid form of OA journal publications (as in Bioline
International) to the fully OA journal publications (as in PLoS).

Let's agree that there are multiple flavours of OA (to use John
Willinsky's term) and that there are no one-size-fits all solution for all
circumstances. (Just as "Publish or Perish" is not as absolute as Les Carr
just pointed out). Endless argument over whether the "green" or "gold"
road is the best way to archive OA is counterproductive. So is an overly
restrictive definition of OA.

For some discipline with no history of self-archiving, the gold route may
be best. For some institutions with sufficient administrative foresight
and support, the Southampton-type approach to institutional archive may be
best, while other institutions, particularly those in developing
countries, may take different tacts. I am far from certain what these
tacts may be, but I am certain that the approaches will not be
homogeneous, given the vast differences in disciplinary and cultural
practices. But as long as the results are OA and improved visibility and
research impact, then let a thousand flowers bloom. Let's not worry how
long the blossom will last, or how fast the flower will emerge from its

Leslie Chan

> On Sun, 13 Mar 2005, Heather Morrison wrote:
>>sh> "By "open access" to this literature, we mean its free
>> availability
>>sh> on the public internet, immediately and permanantly..."
>> this raises the bar too high at present. My interpretation of your
>> proposed definition is that only gold publishers who have figured out
>> solutions for permanent archiving would fit ...
> Absolutely not! Quite the opposite. I am a longstanding *opponent*
> of having to "figure out solutions for permanent archiving" in advance,
> as a prerequisite for OA self-archiving!
> It's far simpler than that (and neither technical nor formal nor
> legalistic): An article should be made freely accessible online
> immediately upon acceptance for publication and it should be kept freely
> accessibly on line from then onward. No delays, no withdrawals.
> There is no reason whatsoever for "figuring out solutions for permanent
> archiving" in advance. The articles that were self-archived in 1991 in
> arxiv, for example, are still with us today, without the authors (or the
> archivers) having felt that they first had to "figure out solutions for
> permanent archiving." No one yet has failsafe archiving solutions, but
> they can and will continue to be worked on in parallel. In the meanwhile,
> arxiv and the many other institutional archives are good for another
> few decades yet -- but they are still 80% empty! The immediate problem
> is providing that missing OA content, not figuring out failsafe advance
> solutions for its preservation.
> Re: Priorities: OA Content Provision vs. OA Content Preservation
>> There are many green publishers who allow for self-archiving, who do not
>> take responsibility for ensuring that authors take advantage of this
>> opportunity.
> There is nothing that green publishers need to take responsibility for
> ensuring other than that they should be and remain green publishers!
> It is the responsibility of their *authors* (and their authors'
> institutions and funders) to take responsibility for ensuring that their
> articles are made and kept OA (immediately and permanently). That is
> *certainly* not the publisher's responsibility.
> I suspect that you may be confusing (1) the green publishers'
> (non)-responsibility to ensure that their authors make their articles
> OA with (2) *all* publishers' responsibility to help ensure that their
> contents (both paper and digital) are preserved. That responsibility
> (shared with the libraries that purchase or license the contents) exists,
> to be sure, but it has *absolutely nothing to do with OA* at this time,
> nor with self-archiving.
> The publisher's version of an article (paper and digital) is the official
> version
> of record. That is what subscribers buy or license. And that of course
> needs to
> be permanently preserved. That has nothing to do with the supplementary
> version
> of the same article that the author may or may not make OA, by
> self-archiving it
> (in order to provide -- immediate and permanent -- online access to all
> potential
> users worldwide who cannot afford access to the publisher's official
> version)..
> That self-archived supplement needs to be kept online and accessible
> permanently
> too (for the sake of OA), but that is not the responsibility of the
> publisher,
> but of the author and the author's institutional archive.
> That responsibility can and will be and is being shouldered by the
> institutional archives, but, as noted, after 15 years, the problem is not
> the preservation, which is carrying on just fine, but the
> content-provision,
> which is not, yet. What is still missing is (80% of) the articles! For
> that,
> what is needed is not to "figure out solutions for permanent archiving"
> but to implement an institutional policy to ensure immediate 100%
> self-archiving.
>> By leaving this with the authors, also, the publisher has no
>> way of knowing if the method employed by the author (IR, department web
>> site, author's home page) is securely archived.
> The publisher has no *way* of knowing whether the supplemental OA versions
> self-archived by the author are securely archived and the publisher has no
> *need* to know! The publisher need only concern himself with the secure
> archiving of the publisher's own official version of record! (Links
> from the author/institutional OA supplement to the publisher's version
> of record, however, are of course good scholarly practice and should be
> strongly encouraged. Self-archiving in an OAI-compliant institutional
> OA archive rather than just on the author's naked home page is of course
> also always to be strongly encouraged.)
>> Nevertheless, these [green] publishers have taken significant steps
>> towards open access, which I believe need to be recognized, even if they
>> are not the total solution.
> But the fact -- that even though they are not among the 5% that are gold,
> the publishers of the 92% of journals that are green are still on the
> side of the angels insofar as OA is concerned -- is certainly a fact
> that is recognized, and will be even more recognized and credited once
> their authors (and their institutions and funders) get around to taking
> advantage of that fact. The "total solution" (100% OA) now depends
> entirely
> on researchers, their institutions and funders. As these are both the
> providers and the beneficiaries of OA, we have every reason to expect that
> they will soon get around to adopting and implementing an effective policy
> for providing OA to all of their own research output.
> 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.
> in BOTH cases self-archive a supplementary version of your article
> in your institutional repository.
Received on Mon Mar 14 2005 - 02:26:43 GMT

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