Mandated Self-Archiving and the "Open Choice" Option

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Thu, 29 Jun 2006 12:06:08 +0100

On Thu, 29 Jun 2006, PsyPhilEd-COMP wrote:

> In making the argument, is there any long- or short-term value to
> publishers when their authors self-archive?

The purpose of OA and of self-archiving and of mandating self-archiving
is not to bring long- or short-term value to publishers. Its purpose is
to bring short- and long-term value to research, researchers, and the
public that funds them.

For publishers, author self-archiving means two things: (1) a possible
risk to their subscription revenues -- but a risk vastly outweighed by
the benefits to research, researchers, and the public that funds them
("CURES") -- and (2) benefits to publishers in the form of increased
visibility and impact for their journals, which can also draw more
subscribers and more authors.

It is possible that near-universal self-archiving will eventually drive
journals into a transition to the Open Access (author-institution-end)
cost-recovery model (OA publishing), with institutional publication
costs paid for by institutional subscription cancellation savings, but
this is not a short-term possibility, especially while self-archiving in
any one journal is anarchic and distributed, depending on each author's
research funder or institutional self-archiving policy.

Publishers' best strategy today is to offer Open Choice -- the
per-article option of the author-institution paying the publisher
to make the online version of the article OA -- at a sustainable
per-article price, as a preparation for a possible eventual transition
to an author-institution-end cost-recovery.

The print edition, however, is likely to remain in demand for some time
yet, and its subscription revenues are likely to buffer journal publishing
for some time, even if the transition is eventually destined to occur. The
research funders that mandate self-archiving should, where possible,
make funds available to pay reasonable author charges per article for
making articles OA, but not charges so high that they correspond to 1/Nth
of the total current annual revenue of a journal publishing N articles
annually, because that factors in the print edition costs, which should
either sustain themselves despite OA, or should be allowed to disappear,
should OA ever put an end to the demand for the print edition.

Stevan Harnad

Berlin 3 Recommendation:

    "In order to implement the Berlin Declaration institutions should
    implement a policy to:

            1. require their researchers to deposit a copy of all their
            published articles in an open access repository


            2. encourage their researchers to publish their research
            articles in open access journals where a suitable journal
            exists (and provide the support to enable that to happen)."
Received on Thu Jun 29 2006 - 12:14:19 BST

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