Re: Trojan Horse for Open Access Mandates

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Wed, 6 Sep 2006 14:29:00 +0100

On Wed, 6 Sep 2006, Jan Velterop, Springer, wrote:

> Your increasingly shrill metaphors are not what worries me,
> Stevan. They are not unusual in your messages. What is more worrisome
> is your tendency to put words into my mouth (under the guise of
> "reconstructing my argument"). Refutation of words that *you* put into my
> mouth is not quite the same as refutation of my actual comments. Where,
> for instance, do I "speak of catastrophic cancellations"?

How about this shy metaphor, then, straight from Jan's mouth:

    "I'm also glad that Stevan is a psychologist and not an engineer. The
    'empirical' evidence on which he bases his no-risk hypothesis is
    comparable to the evidence that a layer of 10 centimeters of snow
    doesn't cause a roof to collapse and that there has been at least 10
    years with no more than 10 centimeters of snow on any given day. He
    would construct a roof that can deal with 10 centimeters of snow,
    only to see it collapse when that one night comes when there is
    snowfall of 25 centimeters. He would say 'no problem, we'll just
    rebuild the hall'."

Or its revival in this latest series of exchanges:

    "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.... Until that support system collapses completely, and then
    we'll reinvent publishing..."

> What divides us is not that you are "addressing the problem of *research
> accessibility*" and I am not, because I do, too. What divides us is
> that you focus on the means (self-archiving being considered "an end in
> itself"), and I focus on the goal, which may even go beyond open access,
> as open access itself is just a means to achieve the maximum insight
> and knowledge contribution from the scientific research process and its
> world wide sharing.

Open Access is not the means but the *end* (goal) of the Open Access Movement.
The reason for *seeking* that end (Open Access) is that it enhances research

Publishing reform is one of the two means of reaching the end: Open
Access. But the other means, self-archiving, is far faster, far surer,
and, most important, it can be -- and is being -- mandated, to make it
faster and surer still.

> I'm fine with an open access mandate. I've suggested that funders
> mandating open access support their mandates by making explicit that
> publishing is an integral part of doing research and thus that the cost
> of publishing is an integral part of the cost of doing research. How is
> that "a Trojan horse for open access mandates"? Projection, perhaps, from
> someone who has advocated for years the use of self-archiving, initially
> as "a subversive proposal" when he was still open and honest about it.?

The Trojan Horse is not (1) publishers offering and promoting the Open
Choice (hybrid optional gold) option.

Nor is the Trojan Horse (2) publishers suggesting "that funders mandating open
access" *self-archiving* (sic) should "support their mandates by making explicit
that publishing is an integral part of doing research."

Nor is the Trojan Horse even (3) publishers suggesting that funders should
fund open access publishing.

The Trojan Horse is publishers lobbying funders to mandate open access
publishing *instead* of mandating open access self-archiving:

    Jan Velterop:
    "This mandating they can do in one of two ways: they can mandate
    [A] so-called self-archiving the published version of the articles based
    on the research they fund, or they can mandate [B] open access publishing
    of those articles."

Here are two very specific questions for Jan Velterop:

(1) Are you for or against A (i.e., the mandated self-arching that FRPAA and EC have
proposed, and that 4 UK Research Councils, the Wellcome Trust, and a number of
universities and research institutions have already adopted)?

(2) Are you working for A, or against A, in favour of B (mandated open access

If the answer is "against A and for B," Jan is a proponent of the Trojan Horse
about which I have been warning.

> Self-archiving is perhaps a quick-and-dirty for achieving open access. I
> do not deny that a quick-and-dirty may have some tactical attractions,
> but I do not accept it as an "end in itself" or a sustainable solution. We
> can do much better than that.

Nothing more is asked of you, Dear Jan, than that you should not oppose A. You
may call it any pejorative name you like -- "band-aid" or "quick and dirty" --
but if you support A you are part of the solution, and if you oppose it you are
part of the problem (for Open Access).

Your call.

Stevan Harnad
Received on Wed Sep 06 2006 - 14:49:32 BST

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