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

From: David Goodman <dgoodman_at_Princeton.EDU>
Date: Tue, 5 Sep 2006 14:53:00 -0400

I would have agreed with the dismissal of "OA by the Article" just a
few months ago. But it has now actually demonstrated in the field
that this method gives a way of making the
transition: the author pays for OA now, (or immediate OA), and
the journal becomes somewhat less expensive for everybody.
This takes a certain amount of altruism and a certain amount of hope.

As for altruism, the early payers for OA will presumably be -- or
at least ought to be -- those well-funded laaboratories whose funders
not merely permit and will specifically encourage this payment.
As for faith, I didn't have any when
Springer first came out with its plan; I do now, when OUP has reduced
the prices of its first such jounals.

The library ability to fund OA is not all-or-nothing. To the extent that
subscriptions are lowered by this method, there will be savings. As
an example, the normal price increase for a commercially-produced
 periodical is 5%-9% a year. We'll take the average, 7%, and suppose
that 10% of the articles are sponsored, using grant funds. This permits
the library to have a 3% savings, some of which should go to OA fees
for those without specificaly designated grant funds, and some should go
to purchases of other library material where OA is not yet relevant.

The only catch is that it may be difficult for libraries to keep all of this money,
and use it for the intended purpose. Jan does not address the tactical problem
of the libraries giving up the money to the provost, and the provost
(or the legislature) not using it for OA, but relying on the outside grants.

I'd guess
that the research libraries might be able to bear half the cost, with
granting agencies the rest.
All of this is not just compatible, but complementary with Green OA.

1) Eysenbach has clearly shown that the highest citation results are obtained
when an article is both published OA and self-archived. (There is some
dsagreement about which of the two has the greater influence, but consensus that
using both is the best.)

2) The best-founded objection to Green OA, imho, is that it is not sustainable.
Some may think it is, but for those who think the objection is real, there
is now a clear way to prevent any harm. This should greatly simply the
debate: all can agree, though perhaps for different reasons.

>Nothing irrational in that. What would be irrational would be to pay for
>publication *now*, when the subscriptions are still being paid, and when
>it is still unknown whether and when demand will disappear --

There are many factors influencing why a library would keep a subscription.
Keeping print is only a small part. Many libraries that mainain electronic
subscriptions do not keep print--in some cases, even of core journals.
That is a separaate debate, which is not directly pertinent to OA and
would better be discussed separately.

Libraries respond to the expressed an measured user needs,
and would not get funded otherwise.
Some library's users might doubt that the scientific quality of postprints and
publishers versions are similar: this can be answered by measurement, not
arguement, and my group will soon have preliminary results to report.
Some users will say the readability of piblishers versions is better; this should be
susceptible to experiment, though I know of no studies.
Preservation also needs a separate discussion, but I mention that merely
 preserving the publishers is not enough.

A library buys what its users use. If they prefer subscription versions,
they will be continued. If they are not used, they will be cancelled.
Librarians have a range of opinions on this , as the Ware study has shown,
but their opinions are not the determining factor. The patron use is
the determining factor.

Although "the research community is unspeakable sluggish about pursuing its
own Rational Self-Interest," the spread of "OA by the Article" may be just the
might speed. As for the publishers, their survival is their responsibility, and perhaps
they may at last have found a way to fulfill it.

I am interested in OA, and --as for many librarians--whatever works will do.
It doesn't have to be something I like on hypothetical grounds. It doesn't have to be something
I've supported in the past. It doesn't have to be something I helped devise.

It does need a complementary method that can be in effect very fast, for we cannot
put off meeting all the needs of all the potential users. Libraries and teachers
and scientists deal with the present generation as well as the future. Depositing in a
repository is just the thing for that--nobody has suggested a better.

We should be able to not just agree on that, but do it.

David Goodman, Ph.D.

Bibliographer and Research Librarian
Princeton University Library

----- Original Message -----
From: Stevan Harnad <harnad_at_ECS.SOTON.AC.UK>
Date: Tuesday, September 5, 2006 11:30 am
Subject: Re: [AMERICAN-SCIENTIST-OPEN-ACCESS-FORUM] Open Choice is a Trojan Horse for Open Access Mandates

> Re-directed from "The Geeks and the Irrational" to:
> "Open Choice is a Trojan Horse for Open Access Mandates" (Jun
> 2006)
> On Tue, 5 Sep 2006, Velterop, Jan Springer UK wrote:
> > >
> >
> > The discussion is not 'do scientists provide open access or not',
> > but it is 'do funders mandate open access or not'.
> Agreed! (but its funders *and* universities...)
> > Self-archiving is thus the perfect way of having one's cake and
> eating> it. The premise in this model is that librarians keep on
> paying for the
> > cost of sustaining the journals. And, of course, librarians still
> do. At
> > least in physics. Illogical and irrational as it may be. The model
> > therefore seems to be based on illogical and irrational behaviour by
> > librarians. Long may it last.
> Researchers have their (research) cake, but they have been needlessly
> losing at least half its potential use, and OA self-archiving is
> intendedto remedy that.
> As long as there is demand for (1) the paper edition and (2) whatever
> value is added to the publisher's official version (over and above
> whatis in the author's refereed final draft), librarians will use
> theirserials budgets to subscribe to pay for as many of those
> journals as
> they need and can afford.
> If and when the demand disappears and the journals are cancelled, the
> (part of) the institution's windfall savings from the budget for
> incomingserials can and will be redirected toward paying
> publication costs of
> the institution's outgoing articles.
> Nothing irrational in that. What would be irrational would be to
> pay for
> publication *now*, when the subscriptions are still being paid, and
> whenit is still unknown whether and when demand will disappear --
> whereasit *is* known that potential research impact is needlessly
> disappearingdaily.
> > The other way of achieving open access is for funders to mandate and
> > support open access publishing.
> Why should funders pay a penny more now, when (1) all publication
> costsare still being paid out of institutional subscriptions, (2)
> no one knows
> whether and when they will cease being paid, and (3) what is
> missing is
> not extra funds for publication costs, but lost research impact?
> Why should universities and funders mandate anything but the stemming,
> at last, of that needless research impact loss, by requiring that the
> research be self-archived?
> And this is without even bringing up the vexed question of *how much
> OA publication should cost* if and when it ever becomes necessary
> to pay
> for it. Not only is paying now a needless extra expense, but the
> amountpaid is arbitrary.
> Offering Open Choice is fine. Paying for it voluntarily is fine
> too. But
> trying to get funders to *mandate OA publishing*, and pay for it --
> rather than to mandate OA, and wait and see whether, when, and how
> muchneeds to be paid -- well, it's an understandable strategy on
> the part of publishers attempting to minimize all possible risk to the
> bottom line. But I hope it will be understand that for the research
> community, maximizing research impact is a far greater priority that
> minimizing all possible risk to publishers' bottom lines.
> Yes, the research community is unspeakably sluggish about pursuing its
> own Rational Self-Interest, which is why OA mandates -- like
> "publish or
> perish" itself -- have proven necessary. But these OA mandates are
> meantto serve the research community's interests, to minimize the
> researchcommunity's liabilities not to minimize the publishing
> community's risks
> -- particularly at a time when the publishing community is still
> handilymaking daily ends meet, whereas research impact is being
> needlesslyhemorrhaged daily, with cumulative, unredeemable losses.
> The actual present needs of research surely trump the hypothetical
> future needs of publishing.
> > Stevan is very clear here: leave the writing of the cheques to
> support> of the journals system entirely in the hands of the
> librarians in their
> > traditional role and with their inadequate library budgets.
> Please recall that all those institutional library budgets are
> inadequatefor each institution's access needs, but *they are
> adequate for covering
> publishers' revenue needs*!
> > Never mind the growth of research output; never mind the fact that
> > this growth is unconnected to library budgets;
> OA self-archiving is intended in order to remedy research access
> needs, and the resultant research impact losses. OA is about research
> accessibility, not about journal affordability. Libraries buy what
> theycan afford, as long as there is demand. Researchers need
> maximized access
> and impact right now.
> > never mind the extra cost of repositories;
> What extra cost? And why are publishers worrying about that? It's not
> their problem!
> "Institutional Cost of Creating/Maintaining an OA Repository"
> > never mind the extra bother of self-archiving for the researchers;
> Researchers will not know how little bother it is until/unless they do
> it. That's what the mandates are for:
> Carr, L. and Harnad, S. (2005) Keystroke Economy: A Study of the
> Time and Effort Involved in Self-Archiving.
> > never mind the complete disconnect between what's paid for
> > (access) and the deliverable (the service of publishing). Until that
> > support system collapses completely, and then we'll reinvent
> publishing.
> I couldn't quite follow that, but it sounds like the understandable
> risk-averseness of an industry. Fair enough.
> But the "support system collapse" you speak of is not actual but
> hypothetical, contingent on demand, and its remedy (redirection of
> what is
> currently being spent on subscriptions) is obvious. Whereas the
> loss of
> research access and impact is actual, and cumulating daily,
> needlessly,because the remedy is also completely within reach: Self-
> archivingmandates by researchers' institutions and funders.
> Let us remedy the actual acute problem, and deal with the hypothetical
> problem if and when it actually manifests itself. (The means are
> there.)
> (Jan, your arguments are awfully familiar, and they sound very much
> likethose of the non-OA publisher lobby that has been opposing the OA
> self-archiving mandates...)
> "Open Letter to Research Councils UK: Rebuttal of ALPSP Critique"
> Berners-Lee et al. (8 signatories)
> Stevan Harnad
Received on Tue Sep 05 2006 - 20:14:58 BST

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