Re: Open Access vs. NIH Back Access and Nature's Back-Sliding

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Sat, 4 Feb 2006 20:30:13 -0500

On 4-Feb-06, at 5:41 PM, Sally Morris (ALPSP) wrote:

> In addition to self-archived papers and those in full OA journals,
> don't forget (a) those in hybrid/optional OA journals (which seem
> to average around 40 articles p.a) and (b) those in 'Delayed OA
> Journals'. I and others are currently trying to estimate the latter
> - over 1m articles from HighWire Press publishers alone (and 0.25m
> from the first 32 ALPSP members to respond to my enquiry...)

Lower tolls are preferable to higher tolls, shorter embargoes are
preferable to longer embargoes, longer temporary access is preferable to
shorter temporary access, wider access is preferable to narrower access,
but Open Access is still Open Access, which means free, immediate,
permanent online access to any would-be user webwide, and not just to
those whose institutions can afford the access- tolls of the journal it
happens to be published in. The measure of the percentage of OA is the
percentage of *current annual article output* that is freely accessible
online. The rest is merely measuring *Back Access* (BA). BA is welcome,
but it is not OA; and not what the research community wants and needs
most today. Research uptake, usage, impact and progress do not derive any
benefit whatsoever from embargoes, delaying full access and usage. That
is not what research is about, or for.

But this is not the publishing community's problem, at all. As long as a
journal is green on immediate self-archiving, it has done all it needs
to do for OA at this time (i.e., it has not tried to get in OA's way,
and in the way of its benefits to research and researchers). The rest
is up to the research community now, and they will take care of it --
and not through spontaneous self-archiving alone (just as they do not
publish through spontaneous publishing alone). *Systematic Self-Archiving
Policy* is needed, in the form of self-archiving mandates by researchers'
institutions and funders, the other two stake-holders in their joint
research output and its impact. Both publishing itself and its citation
impact are already linked to professional rewards, in the form of salary,
promotion and research funding. A self-archiving mandate need merely
be based on that existing contingency, and the existing publish-or-
perish mandate, and designed simply to maximize it.

Gold OA publishing is a welcome bonus; so is hybrid "open choice"
optional gold. BA is welcome too; but it cannot and should not be
reckoned as OA, any more than re-runs should be reckoned as fresh
movies, hand-me-downs as fresh fashion, or left-overs as fresh fare.

One of the biggest and most important components of the OA impact
advantage, especially in fields that have already reached 100% OA,
such as astrophysics, is EA (Early Access). One would think that
earlier access merely brings earlier impact, not more impact. But
Michael Kurtz's data shows that EA not only adds a permanent
increment to citation counts, but to their continuing growth rate
too. It is as if earlier usage branches early, and the branches keep
branching and generating more usage and citations. Of course, this will
vary with the uptake-latencies, time-constants and turn-around times
of each field, but I doubt that progress in any field benefits from,
or is even unaffected by, access delays, any more than it is likely
to be immune to publication delays.

If a work is worth publishing today, it is worth accessing today, not
just in 6 months, 12 months, or still longer. That is what needs to
be counted and tallied if we are tracking the growth of OA today. If
we want to maintain a separate tally for BA too, that's fine, but
beside the point, because after the fact, insofar as OA and immediate
research progress -- research's immediate priority today -- are concerned.

Stevan Harnad

Pertinent Prior AmSci Topic Threads:

Nature 10 September on Public Archiving (1998)

E-Biomed: Very important NIH Proposal (1999)

Floyd Bloom's SCIENCE Editorial about NIH/E-biomed

Evolving APS Copyright Policy (American Physical Society)

Nature's vs. Science's Embargo Policy (2000)

AAAS's Response: Too Little, Too Late (2001)

APS copyright policy (2002)

Open Letter to Philip Campbell, Editor, Nature (2003)

Is there any need for a universal Open Access label?

Shulenburger on open access: so NEAR and yet so far

Nature Web Debate on Open Access (2004)

Elsevier Gives Authors Green Light for Open Access Self-Archiving

URGENT support for NIH public access policy

Critique of Stanford/HighWire Press Critique of NIH Proposal

Nature Back-Slides on Self-Archiving [Corrected] (2005)

Please Don't Copy-Cat Clone NIH-12 Non-OA Policy!
Open Access vs. NIH Back Access and Nature's Back-Sliding

Proposed update of BOAI definition of OA: Immediate and Permanent
Received on Sun Feb 05 2006 - 02:13:46 GMT

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