Re: Open Choice is a Trojan Horse for Open Access Mandates

From: Peter Banks <pbanks_at_BANKSPUB.COM>
Date: Fri, 30 Jun 2006 06:49:58 -0400

If archiving isn't taking off, it isn't primarily because of publishers. The
SHERPA/ROMEO list of publishersı policies on copyright and self-archiving
show that many major publishers permit posting of preprints and/or
postprints. These include Blackwell, British Medical Journal, Elsevier,
Wiley, Taylor&Francis, and many, many others.

The failure of the self-archiving movement stems mainly from the
indifference or open opposition of the authors and researchers who are
supposed to undertake it. And remember that society publishers are not
controlled by greedy staff publishers; they are controlled by governing
bodies comprised of the authors and researchers affected by OA. Advocates
have failed utterly to convince societies of the merits of OA because
society volunteer leaders do not believe the fundamental premise that "the
research community and public need 100% OA now." Those societies who
advocate against mandates for OA--and not all do--have reasonable doubts
about the accuracy and quality of preprints and postprints (especially in
medicine, where mistakes can have serious consequences), the bibliographic
confusion that archives are creating, and the difficulty archives cause for
accurately tracking usage. They also doubt that OA archives are a solution
to long-term preservation, as often (inaccurately) claimed.

In the 7 years I was publisher of two society journals, a total of zero (0)
out of 18,000 members ever advocated for OA. Colleagues in other societies
report a similar experience. It is not surprising, therefore, that there is
a little foot-dragging among authors to the governmental stampede you

On 6/29/06 10:16 PM, "Stevan Harnad" <> wrote:

> ** Apologies for Multiple Posting **
> Dear OA advocates:
> This is a note of caution about the spate of publishers currently
> announcing that they are offering Open Choice -- i.e., the option
> for authors to buy OA, at various asking prices, for their
> individual article.
> On the surface, this sounds like a positive development:
> Publishers experimenting widely with OA publishing at last.
> But please don't forget the OA mandates that have been proposed
> and are pending in the US, UK, EC, Australia, Germany, France,
> Norway.
> Those are all OA self-archiving mandates, and they are already
> long-delayed, mostly because of opposition from the publishing
> lobby.
> Please be aware that the publishing lobby will now be using the
> paid-OA option that they are offering as yet another means of
> trying to delay or divert the adoption of the OA self-archiving
> mandates.
> If the US, UK, EC, Australia, Germany, France, Norway felt they
> had the extra money to mandate and fund paid OA instead of
> self-archiving today, and promptly did so, that would be fine.
> But that outcome is highly unlikely, for many reasons (the chief
> of which being that 100% of the cash for funding publication is
> currently tied up in paying subscriptions, so the extra money
> would have to be found from elsewhere, in advance!).
> Moreover, a consensus on a policy of mandating OA via
> self-archiving, at no extra cost, even though it has been so long
> in coming (mainly because of publisher opposition) is far less
> likely, and likely to be far longer in the coming, if it instead
> becomes a paid-OA mandate, conditional on finding and agreeing to
> invest all that extra cash in advance -- particularly at a time
> when all publication costs are being paid, hence there is no call
> for extra cash.
> The publishers' promise that as paid OA catches on they will
> scale down subscription prices is a hollow one: It is tantamount
> to saying, to an individual customer: "Buy more of my product and
> the effect will trickle down in the form of a lower price for
> everyone, including you." Nonsense: individual authors, if they
> paid for the OA option for their own articles, would simply be
> subsidising an infinitesimal reduction in the price of
> subscriptions for institutional libraries the world over.
> And the research community and public need 100% OA now.
> I think Open Choice is a Trojan Horse, and that we should be very
> careful about our reaction to it, as it risks eliciting years
> more of delay for OA (under the guise of "preparing the way").
>> From publishers who do not oppose the self-archiving mandates,
> Open Choice is fine: it is an indication of good faith, and
> willingness to test the waters of Open Access Publishing. But
> from publishers lobbying against the adoption of self-archiving
> mandates, and touting Open Choice as an alternative -- or, worse,
> pressing for the mandating of paid-OA rather than self-archiving
> -- it is a clever, but somewhat cynical way of delaying still
> longer the immediate mandating of OA, as now proposed all over
> the world.
> Stevan Harnad

Peter Banks
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Received on Fri Jun 30 2006 - 13:14:11 BST

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