Re: Harold Varmus: "Self-Archiving is Not Open Access"

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Sat, 10 Jun 2006 12:04:57 +0100 (BST)

On Thu, 8 Jun 2006, Guédon Jean-Claude wrote:

> I would also like to react to Poynder's characterization
> of the debate within the OA community...
> ... debates which are more than internecine squabbling...
> My point has always been to see how we could make
> both roads [green and gold] work better. I have even strongly
> suggested we should try to make the two
> strategies converge, for example by paying
> attention to their respective branding capacity.
> This is particularly important for repositories
> as journals already brand. But what has been
> branded once can be branded twice (for example
> through a journal and then through a prize).
> Therefore, imagining how repositories can be
> organized to brand and re-brand is not difficult.

Imagining is never difficult. Doing is always tougher.

With what has not been deposited, nothing can be done, no matter how
persistently we keep imagining it. The repositories are still near-empty,
and even the concrete, empirical demonstrations of their power to
enhance research impact have not been enough to induce authors to
deposit; and authors themselves have testified that they will not deposit
until/unless it is mandated -- hence the current focus on mandating it.

    Swan, A. and Brown, S. (2005) Open access self-archiving:
    An author study. JISC Technical Report, Key Perspectives Inc.

Jean-Claude instead prefers to exercise his imagination concerning
hypothetical "re-branding," oblivious to concrete criticism:

    Harnad, S. (2005) Fast-Forward on the Green Road to Open
    Access: The Case Against Mixing Up Green and Gold. Ariadne 43.

> Let us stop these theological debates...
> There is more and better stuff to do
> than spending time defining boundary lines...

Yes, for example, actually working on filling the mostly-empty
repositories with their already-branded OA contents, instead of just
speculating about how to "re-brand" their mostly non-existent contents.

> the internecine "squabbling" is certainly not Harold Varmus' doing.

Harold is not squabbling. Apart from doing a great deal of concrete,
historic good for generating gold OA (PLoS), and, to a lesser extent,
green OA (by supporting the NIH, FRPAA and UK policies), he is also sowing
confusion ("green OA is not OA" being the latest instance, the original
1999 incoherent fusion of green and gold, "E-biomed," being the first).

It would also be good if Jean-Claude were to stop referring me to Max
Weber or to Bart Ehrman's "Lost Christianities" and were instead to read
(and understand) the concrete, specific and practical points I have made
about the contradictions and confusions in his own sterile speculations
about "branding."

    Harnad, S. (2005) Fast-Forward on the Green Road to Open
    Access: The Case Against Mixing Up Green and Gold. Ariadne 43.
In other words, if there were less needless nonsense to squabble about,
we could all get on with reaching 100% OA at long last.

Stevan Harnad
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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:

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            a suitable one exists.
    in BOTH cases self-archive a supplementary version of your article
            in your institutional repository.
Received on Sat Jun 10 2006 - 12:05:44 BST

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