Re: Wellcome Trust and the 6-month embargo

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Mon, 13 Mar 2006 15:49:56 +0000

The Wellcome Trust will have the eternal historical distinction of
having been the first research funder to actually mandate Open Access
self-archiving (May 2005):

    "Comparing the Wellcome OA Policy and the RCUK (draft) Policy"

This represented a very important forward step for the planet's
progress toward the optimal and inevitable target: 100% OA. The earlier
well-intentioned but much-flawed -- and since failed -- NIH Public Access
policy alas did not help advance OA, but rather missed an opportunity
and inadvertently held things back for at least 2 years. But the hope
now is that -- inspired in part by the far better model provided by
the Wellcome Trust policy -- the NIH policy will be revised, becoming
a self-archiving requirement instead of just a self-archiving request,
no longer allowing a delay of up to 12 (or even 6) months.

It does not follow, however, that the current Wellcome Trust policy is
unflawed, or that it provides the optimal model for others to follow. It
was a great help at its historic time, as a counterweight to the far
more flawed NIH policy, but at this historic point, the Wellcome Trust
policy too risks becoming a retardant instead of a facilitator of OA,
if it is imitated by others in its flaws instead of its strengths.

The strength of the Wellcome Policy is that (1) it is an exception-free
requirement, not an optional request, and that (2) it does not allow a
delay of longer than 6 months.

Its flaw is that (a) it allows any delay at all and that (b) it requires
self-archiving in a central, 3rd-party repository (PMC) instead of the
author's own institutional OA IR (from which PMC could then harvest
if/when it wishes).

The two flaws are linked. For the simple and natural way to rule out
delays is to require immediate *deposit* of the accepted, final draft in
the author's own institutional OA IR (immediately upon acceptance for
publication), but merely request/encourage that *access* to the deposited
draft should be immediately set to "Open Access." That leaves the author
the option to provisionally set access instead as "Restricted Access"
if need be (for up to 6 months).

How is this linked to the requirement to deposit in PMC instead of at
home? Because PMC is neither the author nor the author's institution. It
is not even the Wellcome Trust. It is a generic, 3rd-party repository,
which publishers can (perhaps rightly) construe as a rival 3rd-party
publisher. Publishers are certainly within their rights to block or
embargo rival 3rd-party publishing. (Whether it makes any *sense* to try
to treat a 3rd-party OA repository as a rival publisher in the
OAI-interoperable age is another matter!)

But the author and the author's own institution certainly cannot be
construed as a rival 3rd-party publisher: They are the party of the
first part, the content-provider, and the publisher is only the party
of the second part: the value-adder and vendor.

And that is why far more journals have given their green light to author
self-archiving in their own respective institutional OA IRs, than to
self-archiving in a central 3rd-party repository like PMC. And that is
also why PMC-archiving is more vulnerable to a publisher embargo.

But there is an ultra-simple way to require immediate deposit while
accommodating any publisher embargo at the same time: Require immediate
deposit in the author's own OA IR -- immediately upon acceptance for
publication -- and *harvest* the full-text into PMC after 6 months!

That way the deposit is, without exception, immediate, and for about 93%
of articles, access too will be immediately OA. (Those articles, too,
can be immediately harvested into PMC.) For the c. 7% of articles set
to Restricted Access, the metadata will be immediately visible anyway,
and emailed eprint-requests (facilitated and automatized with the help
of the IR software) can fulfil the access-needs of would-be users
who cannot afford access to the proprietary journal version during the
embargo period.

Why not implement the deposit/access-setting distinction, but in PMC
rather than in the author's own IR? Because it fails to generalise
to all the rest of OA research output (in all fields of research,
not just biomedical). The Wellcome Trust funds some of the world's
biomedical research; NIH funds more; but there are vasts amounts of
further research -- in biology, medicine, physical sciences, engineering,
social sciences and even the humanities -- that would all fail to benefit
from a parochial PMC mandate for biomedical research. If, instead,
funders like Wellcome and NIH mandated that their fundees self-archive
in their own institutional OA IRs, that would effectively "tile" all of
OA space, effectively and completely, as universities cover all fields
of research output. (Central OA repositories like PMC and others would
still be available for any orphan works from unaffiliated researchers.)

In other words, funders are not helping world OA if they keep thinking
of it as a go-it-alone operation. Funders only fund bits; central OA
repositories don't exist for all disciplines and fields; and even if
they did, they -- unlike the researchers' institutions -- do not have the
clout to reinforce scattered funder mandates with institutional
self-archiving mandates, to ensure that all their institutional research
output is indeed self-archived.

So the simple and sensible way to update and optimise the pioneering
Wellcome Trust self-archiving mandate would be to (1) require the
self-archiving to be done in the fundee's own institutional OA IR (as
the UK Select Committee proposed), (2) require it to be done immediately
upon acceptance for publication, (3) encourage immediate access-setting
to OA, (4) require access-setting at OA by 6 months at the latest, and
(5) harvest the metadata into PMC immediately upon deposit -- and the
full-text into PMC (if need be -- there's a case to be made for just
linking to the IR version) within 6 months at the latest.

Why is Wellcome Trust not making this simple and obvious update without
even any need for prompting? I think it is because there are again green
and gold wires crossed: Over and above its mission to ensure that all
Wellcome-funded research (and, hopeably, all research) is made OA, the
Wellcome Trust has the further worthy goal of encouraging a transition
to the OA (gold) publishing model. This is all fine, but not if
the slow, uncertain transition to gold OA is supported at the expense of a
speedy, certain transition to 100% OA itself (green).

And that is what I think is happening: Wellcome is not doing everything
it could to hasten OA itself, because it is not committed only to OA,
but to publishing reform too.

My own view is that publishing reform will take care of itself, and that
the urgent task is to get to 100% OA as soon as possible. (Indeed, that
itself will probably prove the most important stimulant to publishing
reform.) But to slow the immediately feasible and certain transition to
OA in the service of far slower and less certain -- and more
hypothetical -- measures to induce publishing reform, is not, I think,
to help OA along the road to the optimal and inevitable (and already
overdue) outcome.

Some comments:

On Mon, 13 Mar 2006, Robert Kiley (Wellcome Trust) wrote:

> Please note the Wellcome Trust currently does NOT have any plans to
> reduce the 6 month time limit on its grant condition. The grant
> condition requires published research (original research papers in peer
> reviewed journals) arising in part or whole from Trust funding to be
> placed in Pubmed Central (or UK PMC when it exists) no later than 6
> months after the date of publication

No need to reduce the 6 months if Wellcome does not wish to. Just
mandate immediate deposit (in the fundee's own OA IR) and let
delayed access-setting bear the burden of the delay. Meanwhile,
everyone gets into the habit of self-archiving at home, and emailing
eprints can bridge the gap, universally and uniformly.

> It is obvious that a potential delay of up to 6 months is not ideal in
> terms of the timing of access, but it is a realistic response to the
> very real concerns of publishers, large and small, that self archiving
> is a threat to their business model. Whether this is eventually shown
> to be the case is immaterial as it is this perception that we need to
> deal with.

Fine. As noted: Mandate immediate deposit and allow the option of
delayed access-setting.

> As the only funding organisation with a mandate in its grant
> condition to support open access through open access publishing and
> archiving in PMC we are very well aware how many journals are currently
> at odds with this policy.

Note the conflation of open access *provision* (through self-archiving,
green) with open access publishing (gold)...

> That is why, in conjunction with JISC, we are
> funding an extension of the Sherpa/Romeo project to identify, at the
> journal level, which journals will allow a copy of the published paper
> to be deposited into PMC/UKPMC so it is available no later than 6 months
> after the original publication date.

It is always good to extend Sherpa/Romeo's coverage, but Romeo
*already* lists embargoes, if any. So surely what Romeo needs is more
coverage of journal self-archiving policies, not a focus on 6-month

> In order to encourage experiments in alternative business models to the
> subscription model the Trust also explicitly supports open access
> publishing as part of the research funding process.

So far, so good. Funding authors' OA (gold) publishing charges is very
constructive and helpful. But now this:

> That is why we
> provided some assistance to OUP, Blackwell's and Springer in drafting
> the author licence for their various open access offerings so that they
> were explicitly compliant with publishing and depositing in an archive
> such as PMC.

This sort of thing simply encourages the locking in of a 6-month embargo
instead of helping to phase it out!

If the Wellcome Trust instead simply mandated immediate deposit and let
access-setting bear the weight of any embargoes, it would not need to
get into the business of entrenching and canonizing embargoes instead of
letting them die a quiet death of natural causes!

> We see open access repositories and open access publishing
> as complimentary exercises and to us, and the publishers we talk to,
> there is a direct link between the impact of self archiving and the
> publishing process so it is a pragmatic response to deal with both
> issues in parallel.

What is complementary today is: (1) non-OA publishing, (2) OA publishing,
and (3) OA repositories for the author self-archiving of both (1) and (2).
Self-archiving is not a form of OA publishing, and the immediate and
reachable goal -- the one that justifies OA in the first place, namely,
access to 100% of published research articles -- is a transition to 100%
OA, not necessarily a transition to OA publishing.

> In time the most likely scenario, and one the Trust is supporting, is
> that open access publishing, or another model yet to be invented, will
> become the norm and publishers will be able to operate without a
> reliance on subscriptions. As such the 6 month embargo period will be
> kept under review but at the moment the Trust has no plans to change it.

That's fine. Let the allowable 6-month delay stand, but let it be a delay
in access-setting, not deposit. And let the immediate deposit be in the
fundee's own institutional IR, with PMC harvesting it after the allowable
delay -- rather than delaying the deposit itself, and insisting it be
in PMC!

Stevan Harnad

> -----Original Message-----
> From: American Scientist Open Access Forum
> Behalf Of Automatic digest processor
> Sent: 12 March 2006 05:00
> Subject: AMERICAN-SCIENTIST-OPEN-ACCESS-FORUM Digest - 10 Mar 2006 to 11
> Mar 2006 (#2006-49)
> Date: Sun, 12 Mar 2006 02:30:01 +0000
> From: Stevan Harnad <harnad_at_ECS.SOTON.AC.UK>
> Subject: Re: DFG Passes Open Access Guidelines
> 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."
> 42875587368
> 901960.html
> 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
> repository).
> (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
> publisher
> (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:
> >
> >
> ssenschaft_04_06.html
Received on Mon Mar 13 2006 - 16:10:57 GMT

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