Re: CERN's historic role in OA

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Wed, 19 Apr 2006 14:41:19 -0400

There continues to be zero evidence (just a lot repeated speculation)
that self-archiving harms journals.

I agree with Sally, though, that it does not make much sense at this
point for CERN to be pushing for conversion to OA journals. CERN has
done admirably well making its own published research output OA by
mandating self-archiving. If CERN wants other institutions' published
research output to be OA too, then CERN should be promoting CERN-
style self-archiving mandates worldwide, not taking on the needless
role of journal publication-model reformer. As Sally says: if all
authors self-archived, the way CERN authors (are mandated to) do,
then we would have 100% OA and there would be no need for research
institutions to get involved in trying to dictatied what cost-
recovery model journals should use.

Instead, this premature and needless leap to journal reform on CERN's
part not only leaves the winning CERN model unpropagated world-wide,
as it ought to be, but it allows Sally to come to the conclusion that
OA advocates are not satisfied with OA after all: They are bent on
journal reform. (That too would be alright, if they had first done
all that needed to be done to ensure 100% OA. But if they bolt to
journal reform when the OA job's but 15% done, they are just becoming
part of the problem instead of the solution.)

My admiration for what CERN *has* done for OA is undiminished, but
that does not mitigate the disappointment at what CERN could still do
for OA, but is not doing, throwing itself instead into pushing for
publication reforms that are at best highly premature and at worst
gratuitous distractions at a critical (and greatly overdue) point for
worldwide OA. If nothing else, CERN should consider its actual and
potential contribution in a historic light: Why not extend CERN's
sterling record instead of heading off on an untimely gold rush?

Stevan Harnad

On 19-Apr-06, at 12:51 PM, Sally Morris (ALPSP) wrote:

> I am forwarding the exchange below, though I think Fred has missed
> my point
> Sally
> Sally Morris, Chief Executive
> Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers
> South House, The Street, Clapham, Worthing, West Sussex BN13 3UU, UK
> Tel: +44 (0)1903 871 686
> Fax: +44 (0)1903 871 457
> Email:
> ----- Original Message ----- From: ""FrederickFriend""
> <>
> To: "Sally Morris (ALPSP)" <>
> Sent: Tuesday, April 18, 2006 6:32 PM
> Subject: Re: CERN's historic role in OA
>> Sally,
>> I have been waiting to reply to this message expecting it to
>> appear on the JISC Repositories list. Maybe something went wrong
>> in the transmission to that list? Here is what I wish to say in
>> reply. I can forward your message and mine to the list if you wish.
>> The wish to convert the high energy physics journals to OA is
>> coming from that academic community and has nothing to do with the
>> issue of whether self-archiving does or does not harm journals.
>> Listening to the researchers at CERN I have never heard any
>> discussion of a risk to journals from repository content. The wish
>> to see the physics journals move towards OA lies rather in the
>> importance the academic community attaches to their key journals,
>> concern that the subscription model is moving those journals out
>> of the reach of some in the scientific community, and a desire to
>> see the research coming out of the new Large Hadron Collider
>> published with the added value of open access. It is a vote of
>> confidence in the key journals together with a wish to see them
>> adapt to a new environment. So to look at the CERN initiative on
>> journals from the direction of repository content is to look
>> through the wrong end of the telescope, if the high energy
>> physicists will forgive the association with an astronomy pun!
>> Fred
>> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Sally Morris (ALPSP)"
>> <>
>> To: "FrederickFriend" <ucylfjf_at_UCL.AC.UK>
>> Sent: Monday, April 10, 2006 12:23 PM
>> Subject: Re: CERN's historic role in OA
>>> Let's think this through
>>> If (a) self-archiving doesn't harm journals, then why do High
>>> Energy Physics journals need to go OA? Virtually all the content
>>> already is OA
>>> On the other hand, if (b) - as we are beginning to suspect from
>>> information (e.g. IOP, LMS) about usage - self-archiving does
>>> harm journals, then those journals would indeed need to move to
>>> OA in order to survive
>>> Does this mean that Fred agrees self-archiving harms journals?
>>> Sally
>>> Sally Morris, Chief Executive
>>> Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers
>>> South House, The Street, Clapham, Worthing, West Sussex BN13 3UU, UK
>>> Tel: +44 (0)1903 871 686
>>> Fax: +44 (0)1903 871 457
>>> Email:
>>> ----- Original Message ----- From: "FrederickFriend"
>>> <ucylfjf_at_UCL.AC.UK>
>>> Sent: Friday, April 07, 2006 2:14 PM
>>> Subject: Re: CERN's historic role in OA
>>>> I would like to support CERN's approach on both repository
>>>> deposit and OA journals for particle physics research. Their
>>>> approach is absolutely right. On deposit in repositories they
>>>> have good policies in place, they are flexible in the way in
>>>> which they secure deposits, they are more successful than most
>>>> other organizations in the level of repository deposit, and they
>>>> are already active in encouraging other institutions to follow
>>>> their example. It is difficult to see what more they could do to
>>>> promote repository deposit.
>>>> Valuable though the repository content is, the large world-wide
>>>> particle physics community still feels the need for the value
>>>> added by high-prestige journals. The best way to maximise that
>>>> added value is through collaboration with existing high-quality
>>>> journals in a move from subscription to OA, funded as part of
>>>> the research process. CERN is leading this work on behalf of the
>>>> community it serves, and as with repository deposit the approach
>>>> taken by particle physicists could be followed by other subject
>>>> communities. Both repositories and OA journals bring benefits to
>>>> academic research.
>>>> Fred Friend
>>>> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Joanne Yeomans"
>>>> <Joanne.Yeomans_at_CERN.CH>
>>>> Sent: Friday, April 07, 2006 1:14 PM
>>>> Subject: Re: CERN's historic role in OA
>>>> Stevan,
>>>> If only there were more than 24 hours in the day to fit more in!
>>>> The missing papers are those that we discover through published
>>>> journals. Neither the secretary, not the department, necessarily
>>>> knows
>>>> they exist until we find they're published.
>>>> As you say, it's not important who does the keying in but the
>>>> author
>>>> needs to deliver the paper in the first place.
>>>> One method to get them is to individually email each author and
>>>> ask -
>>>> that is a strategy we're investigating but is awaiting some
>>>> technical
>>>> developments. And this of course hinges on the author still
>>>> having a
>>>> copy they can send or more importantly, the author being
>>>> bothered to
>>>> comply. However, we hope this will be quite successful.
>>>> Another strategy might be to report back to the department and
>>>> tell them
>>>> what's missing so they can themselves encourage their authors.
>>>> Maybe a
>>>> strongly enforced mandate in this case is enough, but it might
>>>> also be
>>>> backed up with some kind of incentive scheme, for instance, a small
>>>> bonus (enough to send a student to a conference for instance)
>>>> offered to
>>>> departments who reach full coverage.
>>>> OA publishing doesn't solve the problem at all - what I said was
>>>> that
>>>> the publishing project has generated interest beyond what we've
>>>> experienced before and so this gives us an ear that we can use to
>>>> highlight the need to self-archive too. The point is, for whatever
>>>> reason, the scientists themselves, and the senior CERN
>>>> management, are
>>>> genuinely interested in the idea of OA publishing and in
>>>> discussing this
>>>> they also start to realise the importance of self-archiving.
>>>> Stevan, I know you don't like our 'gold' work, but our influence
>>>> over
>>>> other institutions and disciplines is limited by many different
>>>> factors.
>>>> Already we try to do what we can and will continue to do so. The
>>>> climate
>>>> is ready in high energy phyiscs to discuss and try a change to OA
>>>> publishing, and if we miss the opportunity of the start up of
>>>> the LHC
>>>> experiment in 2007 then we will not have another chance for
>>>> perhaps 20
>>>> years. The time is right for us. Whether it will succeed is another
>>>> question and one we will see in the next few years. At least we
>>>> will
>>>> learn some interesting things along the way..and in the meantime
>>>> our
>>>> repository development will go on.
>>>> Joanne
>>>> ********************
>>>> Joanne Yeomans
>>>> Office 3/1-012, DSU/SI Service
>>>> Mail address:
>>>> Mailbox C27810
>>>> CERN CH 1211 Geneva 23
>>>> Switzerland
>>>> Tel: 70548 (externally dial +41 22 76 70548)
>>>>> -----Original Message-----
>>>>> From: Repositories discussion list
>>>>> [mailto:JISC-REPOSITORIES_at_JISCMAIL.AC.UK] On Behalf Of Stevan
>>>>> Harnad
>>>>> Sent: Friday, April 07, 2006 1:29 PM
>>>>> Subject: CERN's historic role in OA
>>>>> CERN is the biggest of the five institutions that have so far
>>>>> adopted a mandatory OA self-archiving policy:
>>>>> On Thu, 6 Apr 2006, Joanne Yeomans [CERN] wrote:
>>>>> > the vast majority [of papers at CERN] are submitted by
>>>>> secretaries on
>>>>> > behalf of a group or are harvested from arxiv.
>>>>> That's fine! There is nothing sacred about authors doing
>>>>> their own keystrokes! Secretary mediation is just as good, as
>>>>> long as the doing of the keystrokes is mandated.
>>>>> > an official CERN report number is
>>>>> > very important to many of our authors and they will only get
>>>>> one of
>>>>> > these by submitting it through the official internal
>>>>> channels and it
>>>>> > is through this process that the secretaries upload the
>>>>> details and
>>>>> > text to CDS.
>>>>> That sounds splendid! The counterpart at an ordinary
>>>>> university or research institition would be the researcher's
>>>>> standardised CV or (in the UK) their RAE submission, so as to
>>>>> be considered for performance evaluation. Nothing wrong with
>>>>> secretaries doing the keystrokes, as long as the keys get stroked!
>>>>> > There are a few keen self-archivers but they are really a
>>>>> minority....
>>>>> > [Regarding] arXiv harvesting, this accounts mainly for
>>>>> theory papers
>>>>> > and is usually the individual authors submitting their work.
>>>>> As the
>>>>> > theory department knows that we harvest nightly from arxiv
>>>>> we have an
>>>>> > understanding that it is enough for them to continue
>>>>> submitting there
>>>>> > instead of to the institutional repository.
>>>>> Translation: The keen self-archivers (the ones who do the
>>>>> keystrokes for themselves instead of leaving it to
>>>>> secretaries) are the long-standing Arxiv preprint self-archivers.
>>>>> That's fine too. The keystrokes per paper are really so few
>>>>> that it is not even clear why we are talking about who
>>>>> actually does them, as long as they get done!
>>>>> And the CERN mandate see to it that they must be.
>>>>> > I do think a mandate has helped in filling the repository -
>>>>> without it
>>>>> > I am guessing it would not have been so easy to set up the
>>>>> secretarial
>>>>> > effort, nor would we have the staff resources to put into the
>>>>> > harvesting and managing of the repository. So a mandate might
>>>>> not
>>>>> > change the behaviour of many authors, but it does still help
>>>>> to get
>>>>> > the content in a more indirect way.
>>>>> Although I keep saying that the only thing standing between
>>>>> us now (at 15% OA) and 100% OA is a few keystrokes per paper,
>>>>> it is really a trivial matter who actually does those
>>>>> keystrokes -- compared to making sure an institution mandates
>>>>> that they must be done! (As to harvesting back from a central
>>>>> archive: I think that is a local historic aberration,
>>>>> peculiar to physics: Those in other fields who are "keen" to
>>>>> do the keystrokes themselves will far more sensibly deposit
>>>>> in their own Institutional Repository in the first place!)
>>>>> > We are taken with Minho's idea of offering financial
>>>>> incentives...we
>>>>> > might test the political waters for this.
>>>>> Are you sure it will cost less to make it worth a reseacher's
>>>>> while to do the keystrokes than to just pay a secretary to do it?
>>>>> > And as part of our OA
>>>>> > publishing project we'll be making new efforts to encourage
>>>>> individual
>>>>> > submission for the missing documents. OA publishing has
>>>>> grabbed the
>>>>> > interest of the HEP community far more than talking about
>>>>> preprint
>>>>> > deposit did so we hope to piggy-back a bit on this enthusiasm to
>>>>> > improve the repository content too.
>>>>> I couldn't quite follow that: Is it not the HEP community
>>>>> that is doing its own keystroking already, by depositing in
>>>>> Arxiv? And are the missing papers not the ones that they have
>>>>> not keyed in? How is talk about OA publishing solving that
>>>>> problem?
>>>>> (I'm afraid I cannot agree with CERN's strategic emphasis on
>>>>> OA [gold] publishing at this time (15% OA), as I have said
>>>>> before. I think CERN could do far, far, far more for
>>>>> worldwide OA today if it focussed on spreading its own
>>>>> historic OA [green] self-archiving policy and practice to
>>>>> other institutions worldwide and across disciplines. OA gold
>>>>> can come after we reach 100% OA green. By focussing instead
>>>>> on OA gold at this early and incomplete stage of OA itself,
>>>>> CERN is missing its full potential historic role. CERN's role
>>>>> and contribution to OA will nevertheless have been immense --
>>>>> just far short of what it might have been, because of this
>>>>> premature changing of local gears toward gold when the green
>>>>> task worldwide is so far from done.)
>>>>> Stevan Harnad
>>>>> A complete Hypermail archive of the ongoing discussion of
>>>>> providing open access to the peer-reviewed research
>>>>> literature online (1998-2005) is available at:
>>>>> To join or leave the Forum or change your
>>>>> subscription address:
>>>>> Access-Forum.html
>>>>> Post discussion to:
>>>>> UNIVERSITIES: If you have adopted or plan to adopt an
>>>>> institutional policy of providing Open Access to your own
>>>>> research article output, please describe your policy at:
>>>>> BOAI-1 ("green"): Publish your article in a suitable
>>>>> toll-access journal
>>>>> OR
>>>>> BOAI-2 ("gold"): Publish your article in a open-access
>>>>> journal if/when
>>>>> a suitable one exists.
>>>>> AND
>>>>> in BOTH cases self-archive a supplementary version of your
>>>>> article
>>>>> in your institutional repository.
Received on Thu Apr 20 2006 - 15:27:40 BST

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