Re: Forthcoming OA Developments in France

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Tue, 27 Jun 2006 15:48:26 +0100

Many thanks to Thierry Chanier for pointing out that the rumour about
the ANR (Agence nationale de la recherche) contractual link between
receiving funding and providing OA is not true (or not yet true).

Two important observations and one further correction:

(1) For most articles, self-archiving does not require a new contractual
obligation imposed by the funder: 94% of journals have already given
their green light to immediate self-archiving (70% for the postprint and
24% for the preprint):

(2) Even for the 6% that have not yet been given the green light,
there is no need for the adoption of contractual obligations before
self-archiving can be universally mandated, without exception: The deposit
of the full text can be mandated immediately, right now (leaving the
date of Open-Access setting as the only thing that awaits the adoption
of contractual obligations, not the depositing itself). There are no legal
constraints whatsoever on depositing one's own article's in one's own institution's
archive: That is merely and internal record-keeping matter.

This is an important strategic point, and I note that the GFII press release states
that it is *documentalists* -- not researchers or their management -- that are
fussing about legalities. The immediate-deposit/optional-release mandate moots these
legal matters, hence it should be adopted at once, instead of needlessly delaying
deposit-mandates and OA longer.

(3) The rumour that the US and/or UK have *already* adopted such
contractual links is likewise not true (or not yet true)! They have as
yet adopted neither deposit mandates *nor* contractual links between
funding and OA provision.

Some comments:

On Tue, 27 Jun 2006, Thierry CHANIER wrote:

> You already know that a very important way of pushing researchers to
> deposit is to include a requirement statement (un ordre et non une
> demande) in the research contract they sign when responding to national
> funding agency (NFA). It is or will be included in many such contacts in
> US and RCUK.

Two different requirements are at issue: (1) the requirement to deposit
(the full-text plus metadata) immediately upon acceptance for publication,
and (2) the requirement to make the full-text Open Access (rather than
Closed Access) immediately upon deposit. The adoption of an exception-free
requirement to deposit immediately should not be delayed, waiting to
reach agreement on the adoption of further a requirement to make all
deposits OA immediately.

There is as yet no contractual OA requirement in the US or UK, nor is there a deposit
requirement. Let us get the *deposit* requirement first, right away, and worry about
the immediate-OA requirement only afterwards. Having all the full-texts deposited, and
all the metadata immediately visible web-wide, together with the semi-automatic
EMAIL-EPRINT feature (for any full-texts that are set as Closed Access) -- so that
individual users can have individual (fair-use) access during any embargo/delay
period -- will set the OA momentum irreversibly into motion, with usage,
dependence and benefits growing worldwide, unstoppably. But right now, with only the
15% spontaneous self-archiving, there is not the requisite momentum.

Mandate the deposits, and 100% OA will soon follow naturally of its own
accord. Keep fussing about advance legalities and contractual obligations
instead, and OA will remain far away for a long time still.

> This issue may be one of the most important. The current French policy
> (head of CNRS, Inria, etc.) is : the [publisher's] contract comes first, so
> dear researcher look at your copyright assignment before doing anything
> and deposit only if the editor is willing to.
> On the contrary there is a large international discussion in order to have
> NFA put in their contract something like : the first contract the
> researcher has to take into account is not the [publisher's] one but the one
> coming from the NFA.

This is all just theorising: Surely it is easier to agree on mandating deposit only
(which moots the legalities and changes nothing else) than to agree on imposing
binding contractual obligations that affect authors' (actual or perceived) freedom of
choice as to which journal they publish their findings in. A journal can always say that
"if another contract trumps mine, then we simply won't publish your paper." I am not
saying they *will* do that, but they *can*, and researchers can be concerned that
they can, and this (along with publishers' anti-mandate lobbying) is what has been
delaying the adoption of the self-archiving mandates that have already been proposed
for three years now.

Let us not delay further with needless fussing about legalities and
contractual pre-obligations: Let us mandate immediate deposit, now,
and *then* go back to fussing about these matters, with full-texts and
metadata meanwhile being systematically deposited and accumulating, 94%
already in OA, and all of them being more and more heavily and systematically used
and depended upon, webwide.

> Hence as a researche we do sign a contract which is a very strong
> commitment on the way we use the money of the NFA if we get it. Phrasing
> the obligation of OA deposit in this contract will raise the question of
> which contract comes first : the editor's one or the NFA's. May be some
> people in France are willing to avoid such discussion and choice being
> opened ?
> What do you think of it (not the last sentence but the whole of it) ?

I think immediate deposit should be mandated, right now, and *then* we can address
these other matters that are otherwise simply further delaying the adoption of a
deposit mandate.

Stevan Harnad
Received on Tue Jun 27 2006 - 18:08:53 BST

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