Re: Green Party Green on Gold but not on Green

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Date: Sat, 10 Sep 2005 23:06:02 -0400

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Le dimanche 11 septembre 2005 à 01:53 +0100, Stevan Harnad a écrit :


> On Sat, 10 Sep 2005, David Goodman wrote:
> > The obvious solution is for authorities to mandate publishing under
> > any form of OA, and provide the facilities and the funding for both
> > Green, and Gold, each of which exist to some extent, and need expansion.
> > The authors will choose.
> The reason the UK Select Committee recommendation, the Berlin 3
> recommendation and the RCUK recommendation took the specific (almost
> identical) form they did was that what is being proposed above is too
> vague, and in several critical respects incoherent:
> All three recommendations took the form: (1) *mandate* OA self-archiving
> (green) and *encourage* (and support) OA publishing (gold).
> This is not mandating any form of *publishing.* It is encouraging a form
> of publishing (OA publishing, gold) and mandating OA self-archiving
> (green). The reason is that a form of publishing cannot be mandated,
> either for the author or the publisher. Authors must be allowed to choose
> the journal they publish in and publishers (except if, like the author,
> they are subsidised by the mandator) must be allowed to choose their
> business model for making ends meet.

the Select committee's formulation is:

Institutional repositories will help to improve access to journals but a
more radical solution may be required in the long term. Early
indications suggest that the author-pays publishing model could be
viable. We remain unconvinced by many of the arguments mounted against
it. Nonetheless, this Report concludes that further experimentation is
necessary, particularly to establish the impact that a change of
publishing models would have on learned societies and in respect of the
"free rider" problem. In order to encourage such experimentation the
Report recommends that the Research Councils each establish a fund to
which their funded researchers can apply should they wish to pay to

In short, the Committee is saying : set up IR's, mandate deposit; then
it continues by saying that this "will help access" but "a more radical
solution may be required". Consequently, Stevan's summary is somewhat
hasty and therefore slightly off base: the Committee's recommendation is
not a contrast between mandating on the one hand, and recommending on
the other; it is recommending a two-pronged action: establishing IR'S
and mandating depositing on the one hand; experimenting with publishing,
with a view to test the business model and its possible impact on
learned societies on the other hand. With the model of authors paying to
be published in mind, they specify the nature of the experimentation:
let Research Councils establish a fund.
> I do agree, though, that it is foolish to make funds available for paying
> the much higher costs per paper of publishing in an OA journal while
> not making funds available for the far, far lower costs per paper of
> self-archiving. The UK Select Committee recommended helping with both,
> whereas Berlin 3 and RCUK only mentioned helping to cover OA publishing
> costs.

In the formulation of Berlin 3, it is clear that support is specifically
mentioned for OA-journal publishing because such journals, being
external to the researchers' institution, will require real cash to
accept an article if they follow a PLoS or BMC model; on the other hand,
when Research councils call for mandating depositing in an IR, the
actual IR used may (and often will be) within the research institution
itself (or it might be within the research Council in some cases). It
falls under reason, therefore, that calling for mandating by the
authorities of, say, a given university cannot be done without some
discussion with the same authorities. In the course of discussing, the
need to provide the resources to create an IR will necessarily emerge
and will be part of the negotiation. I suspect this is why no specific
mention of financial support was mentioned at Berlin 3.

In the case of RCUK, the draft does not specify forms of financial
support to allow the creation of IR.s. This leads to two consequences: a
somewhat complex situation for authors who might be in institutions that
are not willing to develop an IR; a recognition that IR's nonetheless
cost something.

For reasons probably similar to those used by the drafters of Berlin 3,
specific provisions are mentioned for the so-called "author-pay model".

I would not call this "foolish", even though I disagree with RCUK's tack
on this particular point. It simply reflects the strange ways in which
political bodies work: this is a typical, half-baked, compromise that
slyly tries to unload some of the costs - in this case the IR's - upon
the shoulders of the universities. And this, in turn, forces RCUK to
consider the possibility that some universities may balk and not create
an IR, which creates a new level of problems for the mandating policy.
The result is indeed garbled which means it will lose some of its
convincing quality or it will provide a loophole, as Stevan says a
little lower.

All of politics works this way and characterizing it as foolish is
obviously not a good way to achieve whatever goal one has in mind.

In passing, this is a perfect example of the political difficulties
involved in mandating deposits in IR's. It shows that, while desirable,
this road is not going to be as fast and as 100% effective as Stevan
would like us to believe when he happily subsumes reality under
potential. The objective is simple and crystal clear; the road to get
there, on the other hand, is very difficult. Eco's hero, Baudolino, knew
perfectly well what he wanted: reach Prester John's Kingdom. The book is
about how extraordinarily difficult this objective was. Is Stevan the
reincarnation of Baudolino? :-)

> Since self-archiving is incomparably cheaper per paper, the only
> reason for even mentioning this disparity is that there is currently a
> loophole in the RCUK policy which many of us have recommended plugging up,
> and that is an apparent opt-out clause, should the fundee's institution
> not yet have an IR to self-archive in. A modest per-paper contribution
> by RCUK toward the equally modest set-up and maintenance costs of an IR
> would plug this loophole.

True, but this is probably what they precisely do not want to get
involved with. Let the universities take care of that, they must be
> > [We] should discuss ways of helping them both. A plan that does not
> > make provision for all plausible alternatives is the plan of
> > an autocratic administrator, not of responsible scientists working on
> > questions of policy.
> Agreed, and please see the three versions of the policy recommendation above:
> All three propose mandating what can be mandated (green) and encouraging what
> can be encouraged (gold).

Reading Stevan, it looks like a foregone conclusion: the opposition
between "mandating" and "encouraging" is cleverly set up to project the
impression that one is essential, the other, at best, ancillary. This
would be true if:

             1. The IR's were filling pretty fast on the simple basis
                that the impact advantages are convincing a strong
                minority of scientists or even a majority to
                self-archive spontaneously. Weall know this is not
                happening: we have only a minority of some significance
                which seems to be located at about the 15% level if we
                simply use the figures Stevan generally quotes.
             2. The task of obtaining the mandating were simple. This is
                not the case: everywhere, I hear resistance,
                hesitations, etc. and I spend hours trying to explain to
                people why mandating will be useful and is not an
                unreasonable request.

It is in this context that the gold road provides an important
alternative: it maintains the impetus; it deals with prestige in new
ways (PLoS and BMC, in effect, are creating new sources of prestige with
their journals), it is politically easier to find money to help
encourage scholars and scientist to test the waters in this way because
it looks quite familiar, once the financial phase is behind.
> And please try to recall what this thread was about, which was the
> Green Party's proposal to mandate gold while completely overlooking
> green.

But, once again, threads can branch off. This is in the nature of

> The UK Committee Proposal, Berlin-3, and RCUK have since brought this
> into focus. Please let us not blur it again in the service of a diffuse
> ecumenism that looks cosy but in fact says nothing that actually makes
> sense, let alone something that can be concretely implemented as a mandate.

The oecumenism which I was cheering was somewhat different from Stevan's
rather haughty characterization: BOAI had identified two roads to OA. We
need them both. Some people feel more at ease working mainly on one
side; others on another side; others still on both sides -I would put
myself in this latter category. Let us not lose energy berating those
that decide to work in this way or that way. Rather, let us use this
energy to attack the problem in the way we feel most at ease with. The
rest is "bad karma"...
> I might add that one of the reasons the UK Select Committee proposal
> was rejected by the government was that its full-text was vague and
> wordy enough, despite the clear and coherent summary statement in the
> URL cited above, to be portrayed by the publishing lobby as a mandate
> for OA publishing (gold) (which it definitely was not), and thereby
> defeated as an unwarranted attempt to foist a different business model
> on them. Berlin-3, in contrast, is short and very clear on what is being
> mandated (green) and what merely encouraged and supported (gold).

Here we go again "mandating" vs. "merely encouraged". Wrong tonality,

And we know indeed that journals that are subsidized by public money can
be mandated to provide OA. Stevan's only objection there is that he
wants to see how significant these journals are, but he had to admit
that it could be done. From that point the debate is about estimates of
relative efficiency.

As for the "publishing lobby", we can expect that they will grab any
handle language provides. That is what lawyers are trained to do and no
formulation, however precise, will stop a lawyer from building a case
that may sound convincing to a judge, if only because he (she) shares
the same relation with language that lawyers enjoy. Stevan's relation to
language is essentially alien to them. So, precise or not, the
resistance will be there anyway.

Sometimes, I have the feeling that Stevan is trying to say: look, if we
just had the self-archiving strategy and mandated it, publishers would
not feel threatened at all; their resistance would cease and we would
get the mandating easily enough. What Stevan does not seem to understand
is that publishers are actually at least as scared of mandated
self-archiving as they are of "author-pay" models of OA publishing:
Springer's Open Choice is a good example of the kind of
mutation/adaptation the more clever publishers are undertaking. The
vision that Sally Morris expounded once in front of me at a conference
in Budapest reveals a far greater sense of dread: imagine, she
essentially said, a supermarket full of food, and imagine further that
baskets filled with equivalent food sit outside the supermarket: do you
think many people would be going inside the supermarket?

The metaphor is quite imperfect as communication goods are non rivalrous
but is is close enough to make me understand how terrified the
publishers are by the self-archiving argument. Stevan himself knows it:
he used to expound this process with his "house of card" metaphor.

Nowadays, Stevan wants publishers to forget all of this and he argues
that the presence of OA repositories have been shown not to hurt the
business of corresponding publishers (and ArXiv and IoP are constantly
quoted here, although this history is not finished; it has not always
been very harmonious, and it is still touchy). The reality is that
publishers are far from convinced by Stevan's assertions and, moreover,
his argumentative style is not terribly helpful in this regard. And as
far as factual proof of his thesis is concerned, I think that publishers
believe that, at best, the jury is still out.

> (though again far too wordy and rambling in extenso) is also very clear
> about what is being mandated (green) and what merely encouraged and
> supported (gold). David is here suggesting that we conflate them again,
> under the vague portmanteau "mandate publishing under any form of OA".

I think that what David was trying to express was: mandate all that you
can mandate: authors archiving their own articles whenever possible
(some journals are not green yet and no one has said what will happen if
deposited articles come from a non-green journal); mandate OA publishing
with all journals where mandating is possible (e.g. those that are
> This only invites the publisher's lobby to drub Peter (green) to pox Paul
> (gold) yet again.

Do not worry! They will do it whatever you say or do. Lawyers and
scientists, to repeat myself, have radically different relations to
language. I remember this quip form one US Supreme Justice who
essentially said, in a flash of science-inspired logic: if copyright
protects only the form of expression, how can it also protect derived
works? Yet it does and a scientist like Stevan would probably find
little more to say than characterizing the legal system as crazy or
foolish. That may be the case, but that is the legal system we have, and
must deal with.

> It would be much more helpful to think rigorously and
> critically about the concrete details and distinctions at issue rather
> than just championing superficial solidarity on incompatible matters
> of substance.

Nice scientific vision which naively believe that with enough conceptual
chiselling, the world will ultimately be imprisoned in the perfect
formulation. This leaves aside Wittgenstein's notion of "language
games": your language game, Stevan, is not universal; neither is it
recognized universally. It may be a pity. I may have a soft spot for
logic and hard concepts. I still marvel at the powerful pithiness of the
relationship F= ma (in vector form, of course, which I cannot easily
write out here). But that is the situation we are in. As the basic
formulation of classical mechanics, F = ma has become an obsolete
theoretical formulation (old language game), it is still used, but only
for slow-moving objects (compared to light's speed) and as a useful

Good language is needed, of course, but this is not sufficient:
political savviness and a certain ability not to alienate people is also

So, to return to policy, let us support the mandating of both
self-archiving and of OA publishing for subsidized journals. And let us
do it with the help not only of logic, but also of political skills. In
this fashion, we will stand way beyond meaningless "cozy oecumenism".

Jean-Claude Guédon
> Stevan Harnad
Dr. Jean-Claude Guédon
Dept. of Comparative Literature
University of Montreal
PO Box 6128, Downtown Branch
Montreal, QC H3C 3J7
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Received on Sun Sep 11 2005 - 11:47:59 BST

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