Re: Journal Publishing and Author Self-Archiving: Complementary Or Competitive?

From: Steve Hitchcock <>
Date: Mon, 29 Aug 2005 11:51:36 +0100

Jan Velterop has been very open with us. First he sends a message alerting
us to his new role promoting Springer's Open Choice. So when we get his
rather appealing piece of rhetoric about complementarity in OA, we know
what the punchline is going to be.

Yet when it arrives it's still a give-away, because we see there is no
issue between OA self-archiving and publishers. Read between the lines and
the battle is between publishers. Jan has set off quickly to stake out the
ground for his new employers against his erstwhile colleagues and those
publishers who may be planing to be like them. And it's obviously a big stake.

First, as Stevan immediately pointed out, on the complementarity between OA
self-archiving and publishing, the only issue is whether publishers are
green for self-archiving, which Springer, and most others, already are.
That's good. However, there is more light to be shed on the publisher's
role, or better, lack of it, in the RCUK mandating debate from Jan's posting.

With Open Choice, Springer is trying to alter the balance of the hybrid OA
journal model, which has been an experimental transition mechanism to OA
publishing, mostly on a journal-by-journal basis, typically for small
publishers. Springer has opened this out across a large publisher's journal
portfolio, and thereby changed the parameters. Previously the journals that
could best sustain this model were well established, high-impact journals
with a strong print subscription base. Open Choice introduces a possible
transition mechanism to OA publishing for non-OA publishers that is
potentially more like the Big Deal in its operation, with the associated
advantages and disadvantages. With the possible move to an OA Big Deal,
that's an issue for the marketers and those who buy journal *services*.

Bo-Christer Bjork's proposal for institutional-membership OA appears to
support the BIg Deal route to OA publishing, and seems to me a good example
of likely tit-for-tat between marketers and buyers:

At 17:50 16/08/2005, Bo-Christer Björk wrote:
>My scenario for untying the current Gordion's knot of OA is presented in
>slide 16-30 in the powerpoint show to be found at:

When Heather Morrison says it is absurd for Springer to withhold the right
for authors to self-archive the Open Choice version, that's another issue
for the marketers.

Here's the rub, as far as the RCUK proposal and ALPSP's response is
concerned, because the Big Deal has not been unreservedly good news, for
example, for all the organisations that Sally Morris represents through
ALPSP. The Big Deal favours large, monopoly-style publishing. This suggests
that ALPSP's letter to RCUK is missing the target, that is, it's own target
rather than that of researchers, in a bigger way than the discussion had
hitherto revealed.

As Jan points out, the real issue facing publishers is about the transition
from content models to service models. With the Internet that's a given, at
least for any journal that can't sustain a viable paid-for print edition,
and it would be better if publishers were focussing on developing service
models rather than on the RCUK policy, which is a research issue.

That's the biggest service Jan has provided in his mail: to show that the
competition is not between author self-archiving and publishers - most
publishers have authorised it. The competition, as ever, is between
publishers, notably between OA and, currently, predominantly non-OA
publishers, although the latter could change if Jan succeeds.

It follows there is no threat to publishers in the RCUK proposal that is
greater than that from other competitive sources, nor a threat that is
greater than that of focussing on the wrong targets.

Steve Hitchcock
IAM Group, School of Electronics and Computer Science
University of Southampton, SO17 1BJ, UK
Tel: +44 (0)23 8059 3256 Fax: +44 (0)23 8059 2865

At 17:00 25/08/2005, you wrote:
>On Thu, 25 Aug 2005 Jan Velterop <> wrote:
> > as much of the value of a published article derives from its formal
> > certification, and self-archived articles are not nearly as valuable
> > without that (non-peer-reviewed articles always have the 'vanity
> > publishing' cloud hanging over them), this is an inherently parasitical
> > situation.
>Jan Velterop is certainly right that self-archived articles would be far less
>valuable without the journal-managed peer-review -- indeed, they would not be
>"articles" at all, but merely unrefereed preprints. That is why the
>primary target
>of OA self-archiving is the refereed postprint.
>But the trouble with the (rather pejorative) "parasitical" metaphor is
>that it leave out the fact that the parasitism goes both ways here (hence
>the biological metaphor either fails or must be replaced by "symbiosis"):
>Yes, the author's final draft is parasitic on the refereeing -- which is
>performed (for free) by the referees on the text provided (for free)
>by the author, but with the process managed by the editor and paid
>for by the journal. Hence the peer-review management process, and its
>product (the published text) is just as parasitic on the author's unpaid
>provision of the text and revisions and the referees' unpaid provision
>of the refereeing!
>So let us not make too much of the parasitism, and rather call it
>complementarity (or symbiosis) all the way down...
> > Publishers could stop loading their charges on dissemination (which
> > they don't do too well, because dissemination needs to be restrictive
> > to yield any income at all). Instead, they could start charging for the
> > other functions, which they perform much better, and, more importantly,
> > uniquely. Then there would be true complementarity without much overlap
> > and parasitism.
>As noted, there is already true complementarity, and it is already
>symbiosis. But
>I agree that publishers *could* do as Jan says (and does), and I hope they
>But the fact is that, as of today, the publishers of 95% of journals
>don't. And
>hence the immediate question is: What should researchers do in the
>meanwhile? Keep
>waiting patiently, while continuing to use their daily, weekly, monthly
>impact -- needlessly, and at the cost of lost research usage, progress and
>income -- or should they self-archive now, and let publishing sort itself
>out at its own tempo?
> > In order to make such a transition smoothly, established journals
> > could offer the choice to authors (and their funders and institutional
> > backers): pay for the services of 'formal publishing' and have complete
> > on-line open access for your article -- or don't pay, but then accept
> > the necessity for the publisher to charge for subscriptions, with the
> > sub-optimal dissemination that may entail.
> > This is precisely what Springer Open Choice offers
>It is indeed, and Springer is to be commended as being among the most
>forward-looking of publishers today. But it is *extremely* important to
>that this commendation is not just based on Springer's Open Choice Policy,
>but on
>the fact that Springer journals are also among the 90% of journals that are
>*green* on author self-archiving.
>For that is the *real* open choice, and the choices are *three*, not two:
> (1) Publish with Springer (without OA)
> (2) Publish with Springer and pay Springer to make the Springer
> value-added
> version of your article OA (Springer Open Choice: optional gold)
> or
> (3) Publish with Springer and self-archive your own author's
> (refereed) draft
> for yourself (green)
>If Springer were not green, i.e., if it tried to oppose (3), then this
>would be an
>entirely different story, and Jan Velterop would indeed be promoting
>(in the reverse direction) rather than symbiosis.
>But he is not; and hence what he is doing is to be greatly commended.
>Stevan Harnad
Received on Mon Aug 29 2005 - 12:36:54 BST

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