Re: Mandatory OA, OA-X and Zero OA

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Fri, 15 Dec 2006 21:48:16 +0000

I must begin by apologising to Chris: I had mistakenly assumed he was for
OA + X and against OA - X but it now appears he is only for X! (He seems
to find OA akin to socialism -- a common misconception). In re-reading
this and the prior exchange, I don't know where I got the notion that
it was otherwise.

On Fri, 15 Dec 2006, Armbruster, Chris wrote:

> Mandatory OA enjoys some political support. Mandatory OA might mean
> mandatory OA publishing, mandatory OA post-print archiving (usually in
> central repositories - CR) or mandatory OA self-archiving in institutional
> repositories - IR. Please note that Stevan Harnad has lately been posting
> to this list his speculation on how CRs will become superfluous and,
> therefore, IRs are the only meaningful solution. This is a needless
> version of OA-X ^÷ that, so I think, runs counter to the spirit of both
> BOAI and the Berlin Declaration.

(1) All OA mandates to date, adopted and proposed, are for mandating OA
self-archiving, not for mandating OA publishing.

(It is not even clear how one would mandate OA publishing. Institutions
and funders cannot impose OA publishing on a journal -- unless, of course,
as Jean-Claude Guedon points out, they happen to be funding the journal
directly! And mandates would generate considerable opposition if they tried
to impose the choice of journal onto authors.)

(2) Self-archiving mandates can mandate deposit in either IRs or CRs
(though there are many practical and functional reasons why IRs are
preferable and why CRs are obsolescent).

(3) All mandates, adopted and proposed, pertain to peer-reviewed postprints, not
to unrefereed preprints. (Preprints are always optional.)

(4) Neither the BOAI nor the Berlin Declaration are practical policy documents;
they are merely statements of principle (in the case of BOAI, clear principle, in
the case of Berlin, somewhat blurry principle). Mandates are matters of practical
policy, and post-date the BOAI and Berlin, though they were mooted at Berlin 3.

(5) None of this, and nothing I have said, has anything to do with +X or -X. It
concerns only +OA.

> Mandatory OA might be problematic altogether. It is reminiscent
> of mandatory socialism.

Then I expect "publish or perish" is reminiscent of mandatory socialism,
too. So too perhaps is the requirement to file annual reports of research
productivity and progress for one's institution or funder.

(Mandating self-archiving would definitely be socialism if it forced
authors to give away something they would rather keep or sell, such as
books, textbooks, music or videos. But research article authors always
give away their papers for free -- to their publishers as well as to
all who request reprints -- because they are not seeking royalty or fee
revenues from their sale, but research impact, from their uptake, usage,
application and citation by other researchers. Hence OA self-archiving,
which maximises their research impact, gives authors the rewards they
seek. The mandating is just to get the lazy keystrokes done: As such it
is merely a natural extension of "publish or perish" in the online age.)

    Harnad, S. (2005) Putting the Berlin Principle into Practice: The
    Southampton "Keystroke" Policy.

> Mandatory OA is a political solution that is
> imposed in some parts of the world. Both OA publishing and OA archiving
> have an inherent tendency to conserve the present publishing model ^÷ in
> the sense that they aid the transition of the Gutenberg model into the
> WWW Galaxy without much innovation beyond online access to the file.

Tell that to the (at least) 50% of would-be users of the 2.5 million
annual articles in the planet's 24,000 peer-reviewed journals who cannot
use them today because their institutions cannot afford access to the
journal in which they happen to be published. And tell the authors who
are consequently losing (at least) 50% of their potential research impact
that OA is conservative and non-innovative, and something they can hence
do without...

(The transition of the research corpus from paper to the Web, by the way, is
already long complete. But online is not enough: It has to be OA too. *Then* we
can talk about further innovation ("X"). But not before; or instead.)

    Harnad, S. (1991) Post-Gutenberg Galaxy: The Fourth Revolution in
    the Means of Production of Knowledge. Public-Access Computer Systems
    Review 2 (1): 39 - 53 (also reprinted in PACS Annual Review Volume
    2 1992; and in R. D. Mason (ed.) Computer Conferencing: The Last
    Word. Beach Holme Publishers, 1992; and in: M. Strangelove &
    D. Kovacs: Directory of Electronic Journals, Newsletters, and
    Academic Discussion Lists (A. Okerson, ed), 2nd edition. Washington,
    DC, Association of Research Libraries, Office of Scientific &
    Academic Publishing, 1992); and in Hungarian translation in
    REPLIKA 1994; and in Japanese in "Research and Development
    of Scholarly Information Dissemination Systems 1994-1995.

> OA publishing with author charges is a political subsidy for just this
> model of transition.

I, for one, am not an advocate of author charges or OA publishing subsidies at
this time. I am an advocate of OA, and the way to reach 100% OA immediately is to
mandate self-archiving.

> Countries mandating OA are likely to find that
> innovation occurs elsewhere and that non-mandatory open access models
> are more competitive.

I have no idea what this means, or why anyone would imagine it was true.

> It could be said that mandatory OA publishing has a silver
> lining ^÷ it pushes publishing towards the adoption of nonexclusive
> copyright licensing.

But no one is talking about mandating OA publishing.

> Mandatory OA post-print archiving in CRs at least
> ensures ease of access and long-term stability.

In the OAI interoperable era, all OAI-compliant IRs and CRs are
equivalent, interoperable, and equally accessible. There is also no
difference between IRs and CRs in long-term stability: Distributedness,
in contrast, has its own special virtues, for stability and longevity;
as do universities and research institutions, the primary research
providers, over central entities.

> But nothing positive can be said about mandatory OA self-archiving.

Nothing positive can be said *by whom*? I represent the (at least)
50% of would-be users who cannot now gain access; I also represent
the authors of those inaccessible articles that are losing (at least)
50 percent of their potential impact. Some of these might just have
something positive to say about OA self-archiving (even those too busy,
lazy or short-sighted to do it themselves until mandated!).

> [mandatory OA self-archiving] is cumbersome, expensive and fragmented.

Is it? How expensive? And compared to what? (And is the web itself fragmented?
Should it all be one single website?)

    Carr, L. and Harnad, S. (2005) Keystroke Economy: A
    Study of the Time and Effort Involved in Self-Archiving.

> It is OA-X = without copyright reform, nor real perspective towards
> eScience and the voluntary forfeit of the technological innovation and
> economic efficiency that the WWW Galaxy offers.

(a) Copyright reform is not needed for OA via self-archiving.
(b) Innovation will come with OA.
(c) Economic efficiency? Forfeit?

    Shadbolt, N., Brody, T., Carr, L. and Harnad, S. (2006) The Open
    Research Web: A Preview of the Optimal and the Inevitable, in Jacobs,
    N., Eds. Open Access: Key Strategic, Technical and Economic Aspects.

> Mandatory OA self-archiving on thousands of IRs is no more than
> a ^—digital doubling^“ of the peer-reviewed literature with less service
> than publishers^“ portals.

OA self-archiving is a *supplement* to peer-reviewed research publication, not a
*substitute* for it, for those would-be users who cannot access the paid version.

> Mandatory OA self-archiving isn^“t worth it.

Not worth it to whom?

> Moreover, the odds are: it won^“t work. It looks like mandatory OA
> archiving helps to break the glass ceiling of voluntary OA and will
> give us 100% OA ^÷ at least at those institutions adopting a mandatory
> policy. Mandatory socialism also provided 100% socialism (though ^÷X =
> human rights, democracy etc.) but there were never enough mandates to
> tip the global scale. This is the problem of mandatory OA archiving:
> For lasting change to happen it needs to have the critical mass to tip
> the global scales.

Stay tuned.

> My conjecture is: Mandatory OA self-archiving will never get near
> the ^—tipping point^“ because not enough universities and funders will
> mandate OA self-archiving.

Stay tuned. (That's partly what the Brussels meeting is about.)

> If that conjecture turns out to be correct, then the failure to attend
> to copyright reform will have been sufficient to derail OA altogether ^÷
> because OA would have never more than temporary self-archiving permitted
> by the publishers vis-ŗ-vis the pressures of a social movement.

Copyright reform ("X") can and will proceed apace. But it is not a prerequisite
for OA self-archiving, hence there is no reason for OA to wait for it!

> My interpretation of BOAI and the Berlin Declaration, by comparison,
> is that OA is about setting a new standard that provides lasting
> incentives.

Odd that you should have that interpretation, since BOAI simply said journal
articles should be accessible free online. (And Berlin merely said the same thing,
with a lot more ballast.)

> I assume that the search for an OA model that will prove
> superior to the present IPR publishing model is worth undertaking.

There are two roads to 100% OA. Only one of them (the golden road of OA
publishing) is based on a new model (for cost-recovery). The other road
(the green road of OA self-archiving) is model-independent.

> In that sense, any viable OA model needs to be intertwined with technological
> innovation and eScience, it must be economically efficient. It critically
> depends on nonexclusive copyright reform. For OA to become the standard
> of the 21st century we need to work harder at finding solutions that
> are commercially competitive and which authors and readers will find
> superior vis-ŗ-vis the incumbents model of closed access.

OA is just free online access to journal articles...

Stevan Harnad
Received on Fri Dec 15 2006 - 22:17:18 GMT

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