Re: A Keystroke Koan For Our Open Access Times

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Wed, 27 Apr 2005 01:16:42 +0100

    Commentary on: Bailey, Charles (2005, April 26th)
    "DigitalKoans What Is the Sound of One E-Print Downloading?"


        Stevan Harnad

> -- CB: "Here's what I found [for a "green" publisher]. My "preprint
> distribution rights" allow "posting as electronic files on the
> contributor's own Web site for personal or professional use, or on the
> contributor's internal university/corporate intranet or network, or
> other external Web site at the contributor's university or institution,
> but not for either commercial (for-profit) orsystematic third party
> sales or dissemination, by which is meant any interlibrary loan or
> document delivery systems. The contributor may update the preprint with
> the final version of the article after review and revision by the
> journal's editor(s) and/or editorial/peer-review board."

That is exactly right for a green publisher: The final, accepted draft
may be self-archived in the author's own institutional archive.

That's what only 15% of authors are doing today.

That's what 100% of authors ought to be doing, to maximize research
usage and impact (and ought to have been doing yesterday!).

> -- CB: "what if I want to deposit the e-print in a disciplinary
> archive like E-LIS or I want to put it in the Internet Archive's
> upcoming "OAI-compliant ?universal repository?"?... No way to
> immediately deposit the paper in an OAI-PMH compliant archive that will
> have a longer life than my Website and that can be harvested by OAI-PMH
> search services, such as OAIster."

The restrictions on 3rd-party archives are perfectly reasonable and no
problem whatsoever at this time. The problem today (just so we keep our
eyes on the ball!) is the non-archiving of 85% of articles, hence their
inaccessibility to all those would-be users whose universities cannot
afford access to the journal's official version! It is cheap and easy
for any university to create an OAI-compliant institutional archive, and
OAIster can happily harvest the metadata.

(And worrying about the preservation of non-existent contents is rather
putting the cart before the horse. The self-archived OA versions of a
goodly portion of the 15% of the articles that have been self-archived
in the past 15 years are still online and OA to tell the tale to this
day. All their publishers' official versions are too. So fussing about
the permanence of the non-contents of cupboards that are in any case
meant to be access-supplements, not the official version of record, is
rather misplaced, when what is immediately missing and urgently needed
is their presence, not their permanence.)

> -- CB: "The agreement also states that the e-print must contain a
> fair amount of information about the publisher and the paper: the
> published article's citation and copyright date, the publisher's
> address, information about the publisher's document delivery service,
> and a link to the publisher's home page."

That's just fine too. It is only good scholarly practice to provide the
full reference information and to link to the official version of record
for the sake of all those potential users who can afford it. What is
wrong with that, and why would any author not want to do that?

> -- CB: "First ... "Green" may not always mean "go.""

Not a single one of the points raised by CB in any way implies that
"green" means anything other than "go."

> -- CB: "Second, it would be helpful if [OA Archive] directories
> could identify whether articles can be deposited in key types of
> archives."

They already do. The main distinction is the author's own institutional
archive versus central (3rd-party) archives. It is the former that are
the critical ones. The rest can be done by metadata harvesting.

> -- CB: "Third, if claims are going to made about the number of
> "green" journals, maybe more consideration about what "green" means is
> in order, and perhaps OA advocates should agree on their color schemes.
> Is "can archive pre-print and post-print" enough for "green," or should
> it be "can archive pre-print and post-print on the author's Website or
> in any noncommercial archive or repository"? If the latter, the heat
> should be turned up on publishers that don?t permit it by authors and OA
> advocates."

The answer is that the former is abundantly enough, and the ones the
heat should be turned up on are the authors, to go ahead on green, not
the publishers, who have already done as much as it is reasonable or
necessary to ask them to do, to allow authors to provide the OA that
they purport to need and want so much:

Enough, for example, for 34,000 authors to do the keystrokes to sign a
petition threatening to boycott publishers that don't make their journal
contents OA, but not enough, apparently, to themselves do the keystrokes
to make their own articles OA. That, by the way, is the real koan:

> -- CB: "Fourth... maybe it's time to tilt at a new windmill: a set
> of standardized copyright transfer agreements."

No, it's not more windmills or red herrings that researchers, their
institutions, their funders, and research itself need right now: What
they need is to go ahead and self-archive.

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 Wed Apr 27 2005 - 01:16:42 BST

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