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> > MC: "Gold" - i.e. open access publishing, is not a business model, it is
> > simply a measure of the level of service provided by the publisher.
> Call it what you like: funders can tell their fundees what to do, but publishers
> are not their fundees.
When governments financially support (directly or indirectly) scholarly
journals, these journals are governmental (i.e. public money) fundees.
> > MC: The research community (which, largely from its own public funding,
> > pays publishers for the service they provide)
> Libraries pay for books as well as journals out of whatever public
> funds they use: Are books to be given away online too? And all other
> digital products (software, for example)?
In Canada, the Federation for the Social sciences and humanities manages
a half-million dollar fund to support the publishing of scholarly
monographs. We have kept that ssue out of the discussion so far, if only
to fous squarely on peer-reviewed scholarly articles, but it remains
alive: publishers are being subsidized by public money (not libraries in
this case) to produce monographs they would simply not produce
otherwise. One may well wonder whether these books should not be added
to the OA concern, given that in the social scineces and humanities, the
monograph remains the superior standard for scholarly publishing, a
standard superior to journal articles.
For the rest (software, for example), one would have to look at each
case in particular. But yes, a lot is potentially on the table
> No, Matt, the relevant give-away is only that of the author's own (funded)
> research. The author gives it away (royalty/fee-free) to the publisher,
> and can give it away (and be required to give it away) to all would-be
> users too, who cannot afford the publisher's version. Publishers cannot
> (and need not, hence should not) be forced to give it away, if they do
> not wish to.
If publishers work with public subsidies, why not?
> > MC: it is currently enforced by community standards in most disciplines that
> > journals must peer review the research they publish, if they are to
> > be taken seriously. It is entirely possible, and indeed likely, that
> > community standards will evolve to require that publishers make
> > research openly available immediately on publication. Given that the
> > research community is paying for the service from publishers - they
> > *can* call the tune.
> Researchers can call the tune through their choice of which journals to
> submit articles to and to purchase. But if they want OA for their articles
> so badly, yet cannot even be bothered to *provide* it by self-archiving
> them, it is unlikely they will stop submitting to or using journals that
> decline to provide it in their place. If the (failed) PLoS boycott --
> in which 34,000 researchers pledged that they would stop submitting to,
> refereeing for, or using journals that did not make their articles OA for
> them by September 2001 http://www.plos.org/support/openletter.shtml --
> demonstrated one thing it is that trying to beg or bully publishers
> to give away their authors' give-aways for them is not the way to
> achieve 100% OA: Doing it for themselves (by self-archiving) is. And if
> researchers haven't the sense to realise or act on this, their funders
> and institutions can (and, one hopes, will) require them to do it (just as
> they require them to -- and reward them for -- publishing in the first place).
The pressure on publishers needs not come from authors. They are not the
sole actors in this game. University managers could use their political
clout to start requiring OA from publishers that are subsidized by
> > J-CG: Stevan claims that one cannot impose a business model to publishers. My
> > answer, and we should consider it very carefully, is that if a journal
> > is run with money that is public money
> What proportion of the planet's 24,000 peer-reviewed journals does
> Jean-Claude think that corresponds to -- and what proportion of the
> budget of those journals does he think that covers?
A lot more than you seem to think, Stevan. Take the case of Canada
alone, hardly a big player in the publishing world: SSHRC alone
subsidizes around 150 journals; the Quebec equivalent subsidizes around
40 (the total is less than 190 as there is some overlap between the two
sets). NRC supports 14 scientific journals with a yearly governmental
grant that stands somewhere between 2 and 3 million CDN$. In France,
CNRS subsidizes over 200 journals.
I accept the fact that we do not presently have good figures about this
phenomenon world wide, but I submit that there are thousands of
scholarly, peer-reviewed journals in that category. I suspect social
sciences and the humanities are prominent in this set. A small,
provincial university like the Universidad de los Andes, in MÃ©rida
(Venezuela) publishes 49 journals and all of them are supported by the
university which spends public money and publicly-supported in-kind
services to support these journals.
As for the proportion of the budget covered, it is obviously highly
variable. But, again to take the Canadian case, I would say that the
present SSHRC support covers around 50% or more of the expenses. In the
case of the French-speaking journals, the amount may reach even higher,
especially in the case of double support.
Research ought to be done on this topic to give a clearer picture of the
whole, especially because these kinds of journals also lead to a
widespread phenomenon of bartering. I first encountered that in the
agricultural school in Gembloux (Belgium). They spent 15,000 Euros/year
to produce a small, 256-page, four-issue, journal. This financial
support corresponded to at least 75% of their total budget if my memory
serves me right. They had fewer than 70 subscribers. I asked them what
was the good of spending 15,000 Euros to have only 70 paying
subscribers. I was greeted with a big smile: "Ah" But with our little
journal, we barter about 300 similar journals, all peer reviewed, all
produced in similar circumstances.
When I visited la ULA in Venezuela (see above), they said that with
these 49 journals they bartered 8,000 (sic!) titles, most of which are
produced in similar circumstances and most of which are peer-reviewed.
Again, I think research is needed about that phenomenon, but it is
apparently a lot bigger than Stevan (or anyone else, for that matter)
has imagined. Right now, with some Latin American colleagues, I am
trying to get a firmer fix on this phenomenon. But these anecdotal
soundings lead me to believe that the phenomenon is widespread and quite
significant. It certainly deserves further investigation.
> > J-CG: be it directly from the government or through some agency distributing
> > public money - this includes universities and their support in kind for
> > many journals, as this is ultimately paid up by public money
> Apart from subscribing to journals (with public money, discussed above in
> response to Matt), what I assume Jean-Claude means here is the time that
> academics and their institutions contribute to editing and peer-reviewing,
> sometimes even housing a journal's editorial office. Of course an (unpaid)
> editor, referee, or host can impose whatever (local) conditions they
> desire, but those are local decisions -- decisions that few, if any,
> are making at this time. And no wonder (and we should consider it very
> carefully), since the OA enthusiasts who are so eager for OA as to be
> willing to militate for imposing OA-provision on their publishers are
> not yet willing to impose OA-provision on themselves, by performing the
> few keystrokes it takes to make their own give-away articles OA for all
> those who cannot afford the paid access.
But universities, in a fairly common way, also give money for such
journals and, in the case of public universities, this is public money.
In the case of private universities, this is non-profit money - a status
granted by law. To that extent, it can be brought under the same
umbrella. Consequently, many university administrators have the means to
put conditions on their subsidies to these journals. They can require
mandating OA on such journals, or else...
And, once again, the ones applying pressure in this case are not the
authors, but the administrators.
> We all reckon the odds according to our own perceptions, hopes and
> expectations, but I'm willing to bet that the likelihood that a research
> community that is not even ready to self-archive for the sake of OA is
> even less likely to do what the PLoS boycotters threatened to do for
> the sake of OA.
Wrong argument once more: authors are not the only players in this game.
This is the fundamental weakness of your general argument: you
constantly seem to reason as if the only important actors were the
scholars themselves. This is patently incomplete as a faithful picture
of scholarly publishing and its social environment.
> As to their institutional employers and research funders: much the
> same applies to them, except that, whereas they *are* in a position to
> require that all of their employees/fundees provide OA by self-archiving,
> they are in no position to require that all their publishers provide OA
> (for the reasons already adduced): Institutions/funders have control
> over their researchers' budgets and doings but very, very limited input
> to, hence control over, publishers' budgets and doings (limited to the
> few institutions and/or funders that make a local contribution to a
> given journal's editorial or operational budget).
The reasons already adduced are spurious (see above). University
administrators, for example, have considerable authority over university
presses and these publish quite a few scholarly journals. They have the
means to apply considerable pressure.
> > J-CG: then we should seek to have open access mandated.
> Easily said. And easily done in the case of mandating OA
> self-archiving. Bur mostly just empty hand-waving in the case of mandating
> OA publishing. (Ceterum censeo: We should not be wasting still more
> time, this late in the day/decade, with this idle shadow-boxing when on
> the one side we have a concrete, implementable policy proposal, RCUK,
> and on the other we have merely vague allusions to public funding and
> "support in kind.")
Once again, this proposal is not against RCUK, quite the contrary. It is
just another way to move ahead. Mandating can be applied to certain
categories of journals and publishers. That is all I am saying. For the
rest, accusations of hand-waving and shadow boxing are simply out of
place and reflect an attitude that is a little surprising in the context
of an academic discussion. For one thing, they are mainly rhetorical
bursts and not reasoned arguments.
> > J-CG: There is no reason that public money supporting the publishing of
> > scholarly journals should then be the condition of possibility (as French
> > philosophers are wont to say...) for toll-gated research results, all
> > the more so that the research itself is also supported by public money.
> Apart from the (all-important) fact that article-authors give away
> their research royalty/fee-free to publishers and users alike (because
> they are writing for research impact, not text-sales income), all of
> this reasoning would -- if it were valid -- apply equally to books,
> textbooks, software, and any other digital (or, for that matter, analog)
> product produced by researchers or academics supported all or part by
> public money. Hence the implications are far from clear for the whole
> incoherent mass that fits the formula.
The reasoning is valid, whatever SH may think about it. It can certainly
be applied also to scholarly monographs that are subsidized. For the
rest of the items listed by SH, the heterogeneity of the set does not
stem from the variety of materials, but rather from the variety of
conditions under which they are produced. One could imagine a government
deciding to support the creation of a textbook and also require OA to
this textbook. However, I will not go any further because it is useful
to stick to published, peer-reviewed, research results (which in SSH
> If we separate the give-away authors from the rest, however, the rational
> resolution becomes quite obvious: These can and should give away their
> own give-aways in order to make them OA, by self-archiving them (and they
> should be required to do so, for their own good, by their employers and
> funders, if they are sluggish and/or foolish enough to *want* OA yet not
> to know how to go about providing it, or not be spontaneously inclined
> to do so, immediately).
Yes, they should, but in parallel, pressure can be applied by the right
players on the publishers within the limits outlined earlier.
> To tilt instead at fantasies about requiring publishers to do so in their stead
> has other suitable adjectives for describing it, but it is certainly no formula
> for reaching 100% OA any time soon -- or over, more likely.
Fantasies? Is this an argument?
> > J-CG: In conclusion, some form of mandating can be applied to both green and
> > gold; in the latter case, it would apply only to journals receiving any
> > form of public support. When you pay part of the bill, you are entitled
> > to having a say in the design of the business model.
> I agree. Strings can be attached to any purse: Now, what percentage of
> the planet's annual output of about 2.5 million articles in its 24,000
> journals does Jean-Claude believe the "gold mandate" will cover? I reckon
> about 20% at most, whereas green covers 100% -- and already has that 20%
> covered too.
Well, if 20% is reached, this may not be so bad. For your part, you are
not even able to obtain a self-archiving mandate in your own university
even though you are sitting on a committee dealing with OA. So, clearly,
the 100% doable self-archiving is meeting some difficulties on the
ground. Meanwhile, 20% here, and there, including the 15% of present
self-archiving, with a variety of parallel strategies may get us there
faster than just chanting the self-archiving mantra as the only possible
way to OA salvation.
> > J-CG: Scholarly journals with public support should be forced to be OA. Let
> > them design their individual business model within that framework. Period!
> Scholarly journals (what percent of total 24,000 journals?) with public
> support (what percentage of their budgets?) should be forced (by whom?,
> how?) to be OA (what percent OA for each journal?) in accordance with their
> percent public support.
I have already responded to all but one point in the deluge of questions
above: in my opinion, if there is public money clearly involved in the
production of a journal, it should be 100% OA for the article part of
the journal. Professional news, congress announcements, book reviews,
bibliographies, and other items that are either of a professional nature
(as distinguished from scholarly works) or qualify only as research
tools could probably be sold, and this, in fact, might be a way for
learned societies to make research results OA while keeping a
publication tool that can bring in some needed revenues for the
Association (but that probably opens up another can of worms... so I
will simply allude to it here, without insisting).
So the rule is simple: you get some public money or support for your
journals? Then all your research articles must be OA. For the rest, suit
> Some of this is doable, in principle, but I can't imagine why we
> would focus on it now, in practice, when 100% OA is 100% doable simply
> by mandating OA self-archiving. The need to impose anything else on
> publishers may well vanish, once we all have the 100% OA that is all
> supposedly about (remember?).
Yes, it is doable, and so is my proposal. The issue, though, is that
things don't necessarily happen simply because they are 100% doable.
Sending human beings to the moon is 100% doable too. Yet, few humans, I
seem to remember, have gone there in the last thirty years... I love
this conjunction of "in practice" with "doable"...
> And the point of my posting was that the Greens proposed to mandate Gold,
> but not Green...
The point of one of your postings can sometimes trigger interesting
spinoffs that, although beyond your point, and clearly beyond the limits
you seek to impose on this discussion, are nonetheless squarely related
to policy. This list, if I am not mistaken, is not about OA
self-archiving policy alone; it is a little wider and includes all of
the OA strategies, does it not?
> Stevan Harnad
Dr. Jean-Claude GuÃ©don
Dept. of Comparative Literature
University of Montreal
PO Box 6128, Downtown Branch
Montreal, QC H3C 3J7
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Received on Sat Sep 10 2005 - 19:47:46 BST