Re: The Geeks and the Irrational

From: David Prosser <david.prosser_at_BODLEY.OX.AC.UK>
Date: Tue, 5 Sep 2006 12:40:59 +0100


The figures from Oxford University Press would suggest that there is no need
to retire to your tent just yet. The 'spontaneous' uptake of the open
access option in OUP's journals varies by subject with 10% uptake in the
life sciences, 5% in medicine and health, and 3% in humanities and social
sciences. However, OUP do have three journals where over 20% of authors
have taken the option to pay for wider dissemination of their papers.

Notwithstanding those figures I completely agree with your continued call
for mandates to self-archive.

Best wishes


David C Prosser PhD
SPARC Europe
Tel: +44 (0) 1865 277 614
Mobile: +44 (0) 7974 673 888

-----Original Message-----
From: American Scientist Open Access Forum
Behalf Of Stevan Harnad
Sent: 04 September 2006 21:18
Subject: The Geeks and the Irrational

The Geeks and the Irrational

(For the fully hyperlinked version of this posting, with figures see: )

A promise: If it should turn out that the spontaneous author uptake
rate for the "hybrid gold open access" option -- i.e., journals that
give authors a choice between either conventional subscription-based
publication or paying to make their own article open access --
significantly exceeds the spontaneous author uptake rate for "green
open access" self-archiving (currently only about 15%, averaged across
all fields, even though 94% of journals have given authors their green
light for immediate OA self-archiving), then this weary archivangelist
will retire to his tent, in defeat and dismay, at having wasted a
decade and a half on trying to maximize the impact of human
rationality, only to discover that the sole thing that had been
missing all along -- as Thomas Walker had suggested in 1998, in the
proposal that launched the American Scientist Open Access Forum -- was
the option to purchase the extra visibility at a price!

My guess, though, is that researchers are no more likely to do,
spontaneously, for a fee, what they would not do, spontaneously, for
free, for well over a decade now, despite its substantial benefits to
themselves and their research. As 95% of researchers sampled
predicted, repeatedly, when surveyed by Alma Swan (2006) of Key
Perspectives (all figures accompanying this posting are from Key
Perspectives) and others; and as researchers confirmed by their actual
behaviour when submission rates for IRs with and without
self-archiving mandates were compared (Sale 2006): Most researchers
will not bother to self-archive until and unless they are required to
do so by their institutions and/or funders : Not for free, and even
less likely for a fee!

Hence it is Immediate-Deposit & Optional-Access (IDOA) Self-Archiving
Mandates by researchers' institutions and funders that will
propel self-archiving rates from their current spontaneous 15% rut
into unstoppable growth toward 100% (given that Rationality alone did
not prove to be enough to inspire researchers to self-archive, but it
did prove to be enough to inspire their institutions and funders to
extend their existing "publish-or-perish" mandates to
"publish-and-self-archive"), and that few will choose to pay for what
they could have for free (but couldn't be bothered to provide it till
mandated to do so). The outcome would be 100% OA either way, of
course, but there would be some consolation if it turned out to be
mandated Rationality, rather than muddled Irrationality that

(IF AND WHEN the urgent question should ever become (1) how to pay
publication costs (subscriptions having been cancelled) rather than
(2) how to end access-denial and impact-loss (as now), THEN the
windfall savings from the subscription cancellations will be the
rational source out of which to pay the publication costs. To pay for
OA now, in advance, when all the money is all still tied up in
subscriptions, when all costs are still being covered, and when
catastrophic cancellations are only a hypothetical possibility --
well, you find your own preferred i-word for describing it...)

Stevan Harnad


Hajjem, C., Harnad, S. and Gingras, Y. (2005) Ten-Year
Cross-Disciplinary Comparison of the Growth of Open Access and How it
Increases Research Citation Impact. IEEE Data Engineering Bulletin
28(4) pp. 39-47.

Sale, Arthur (2006a) Researchers and institutional repositories, in
Jacobs, Neil, Eds. Open Access: Key Strategic, Technical and Economic
Aspects, chapter 9, pages 87-100. Chandos Publishing (Oxford) Limited.

Swan, A. (2006) The culture of Open Access: researchers' views and
responses, in Jacobs, N., Eds. Open Access: Key Strategic, Technical
and Economic Aspects, chapter 7. Chandos.
Received on Tue Sep 05 2006 - 13:12:50 BST

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