Re: DFG Passes Open Access Guidelines

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Sun, 12 Mar 2006 02:30:01 +0000

The OA guidelines of Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research
Foundation) are very, very welcome, but I hope that a few seemingly minor
details (see below) can be revised to make them an effective model for
others worldwide:

> DFG Passes Open Access Guidelines
> Information for Researchers No. 04 30 January 2006
> In 2003 the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research
> Foundation) signed the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in
> the Sciences and Humanities. The DFG supports the culture of open access.
> Unhindered access to publications increases the distribution of scientific
> knowledge, thereby enhancing the authors' visibility and contributing to
> their reputations.
> The DFG has now tied open access into its funding policy. During their
> meetings in January 2006, the DFG's Senate and Joint Committee recommended
> encouraging funded scientists to also digitally publish their results and
> make them available via open access.

The first problem concerns this clause:

    "recommended encouraging funded scientists to also digitally publish
    their results and make them available via open access"

On the one hand, this clause is too weak: It is specifically because
the NIH only "recommended/encouraged" that its public access policy has
failed and now needs to be strengthened to "required/mandated."

On the other hand, the present clause is far too vague and ambiguous:

(1) Virtually all journals today are hybrid paper/digital already, so
recommending/encouraging that the publication should have a "digital
version" is breaking down open doors.

(2) What needs to be brought out clearly is that what is actually being
*required* is that a digital version of the publication should be made
open access (OA) -- by self-archiving it (depositing it in an OA

(3) What can also be recommended/encouraged (but not required) is to
publish in an OA journal where possible.

(4) All ambiguity about "publishing" and "publication" should be
eliminated, by saying (and meaning) that "publishing" means publishing
in a peer-reviewed journal, whereas depositing a published article in an
OA repository is not *publishing* but *access-provision*. A published
article is already published! Self-archiving increases the access to
that publication by making it available to those would-be users who
cannot afford subscription access to the publisher's proprietary version.

Recommended re-wording:

   "require funded scientists to also self-archive their published
   results in an online repository to make them available via open access"

(4) No rights renegotiation is necessary *at all* for the 93% of journals
that already endorse immediate self-archiving

(5) For the 7% of journals that do not yet endorse self-archiving, no rights
renegotiation is needed for immediate depositing, but rights can be
negotiated for *setting Open Access.*

**NB: "OA Self-Archiving" means (i) depositing the full text and metadata
in a web repository *and* (ii) setting access to the full-text as Open
Access. The depositing itself (i) (where no one can see the full-text
but the author) requires no permission from anyone! The only conceivable
rights issue concerns *access-setting*.

> In order to put secondary publications (i.e. self-archived publications by
> which the authors provide their scientific work on the internet for free
> following conventional publication) on the proper legal footing, scientists
> involved in DFG-funded projects are also requested to reserve the
> exploitation rights.

(6) *Please* don't call providing OA to an already-published article
"secondary publication"! In a formal sense self-archiving can indeed be
construed that way, but that is not a construal that clarifies, it merely
confuses. Leave publication to publishers. Authors don't publish their
own articles, let alone publish their own already-published articles! They
provide access to them, just as they did in paper days when they
provided reprints or photocopies, none of which were called "secondary
publication." Secondary publishers are *publishers*, 3rd parties (not the
author, and not the primary publisher), that *republish* an entire published
work; or they are indexers/abstracters, that republish parts of
it. Authors are not secondary publishers of their own published work.

(7) Whereas it is certainly useful and desirable to "reserve the
exploitation rights" for authors' published articles, that is not a
prerequisite for self-archiving their own drafts (rather than the
publisher's PDF), and certainly not for the 68% of journals that are
already "green," having given their official blessing to author
self-archiving of postprints -- nor for the 25% more that have endorsed
preprint self-archiving. Rights renegotiation is hence moot for all but
7% of the c. 8800 journals indexed in Romeo (and that includes virtually
all the principal international journals).

(8) Most important: The rights negotiation is not about the *depositing*
(which should be mandatory, and immediate upon acceptance for publication)
but only about the *access-setting* -- i.e., whether access to the deposited
full-text is set to "Open Access" or only "Restricted Access" (and if the
latter, then for how long).

Recommended re-wording:

    "For publications that they self-archive on the internet for free
    following publication, scientists involved in DFG-funded projects
    are also encouraged -- if the publisher has not already endorsed
    immediate author self-archiving -- to retain the immediate right to
    set access as 'Open Access'.

> Recommendations are currently being integrated into the usage guidelines,
> which form an integral part of every approval. They are worded as follows:
> "The DFG expects the research results funded by it to be published and to
> be made available, where possible, digitally and on the internet via open
> access. To achieve this, the contributions involved should either be
> published in discipline-specific or institutional electronic archives
> (repositories), or directly in referenced or recognised open access
> journals, in addition to conventional publishing.

The last sentence is awkward and ambiguous, mixing up publishing
and self-archiving, but it is easily clarified:

    "To achieve this, all work should be published either in conventional
    journals or in recognised peer-reviewed open access journals; and
    in addition (the author's draft of) all publications should be
    self-archived in discipline-specific or institutional electronic
    archives (repositories)."

> When entering into publishing contracts scientists participating in
> DFG-funded projects should, as far as possible, permanently reserve a
> non-exclusive right of exploitation for electronic publication of their
> research results for the purpose of open access. Here, discipline-specific
> delay periods of generally 6-12 months can be agreed upon, before which
> publication of previously published research results in discipline-specific
> or institutional electronic archives may be prohibited.

Recommended revision:

    "When entering into publishing contracts with journals that do
    not already explicitly endorse immediate author self-archiving,
    scientists participating in DFG-funded projects should, as far as
    possible, permanently reserve a non-exclusive right to set access
    to their deposited draft as Open Access immediately upon deposit.
    An access-delay interval of 6-12 months is discouraged, but allowable
    under current DGF policy; during this interval the publication, always
    deposited immediately upon acceptance, may be placed under Restricted
    Access rather than Open Access. (During the Restricted Access period,
    the metadata will still be visible webwide, and individual users
    can email the author to request an eprint of the full text.)

Allowing any Restricted Access interval at all is the weaker form of
OA mandate, but it is still sufficient. It is critically important,
however, that:

(a) Depositing the full text is required, not just requested

(b) The depositing itself must always be done immediately upon acceptance
for publication, *not* after the access-delay interval agreed with the

(c) During any agreed access-delay interval (one year maximum) access
to the full-text can be set as Restricted Access rather than Open Access

I would also recommend against permitting a delay as long as one year: NIH
is now moving from a year to 4 months; Wellcome allows 6 months but is
planning to reduce that. There is no need for DFG to be more permissive of
access restriction.

Stevan Harnad

> Please ensure that a note indicating support of the project by the DFG is
> included in the publication."
> The revised usage guidelines are expected to be available in April 2006.
> Further Information
> Further information on open access is available at
> For further information contact Dr. Johannes Fournier, Tel.: +49
> (0)228/885-2418, e-mail:
Received on Sun Mar 12 2006 - 02:32:30 GMT

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