Interview about Open Access in derStandard (Austria) 3 Jan 2007

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Tue, 9 Jan 2007 10:46:28 +0000

Below is a reply to an anonymized query about:

    Interview on Open Access (in German)
    Forschung offen zugänglich machen
    DerStandard January 3 2007

> [Identity deleted]
> I've read your interview in derStandard from 3rd of January with
> interest. My previous institution [deleted]
> always had a "green" open access
> policy, by requiring that the last version of each paper prior to
> submission was placed into our local repository as technical report,
> although we never called it such.

Excellent policy: Is it documented anywhere? If so I will register it in
the Registry of Open Access Repository Material Policies (ROARMAP):

> Personally, I have found the quality of closed submission (e.g. in
> some areas of biological and economic research) usually inferior to
> those communities which favor an open access approach, like my field...
> But that can only ever be an anecdotal observation.

If by "closed submission" you mean submitting to a peer-reviewed journal
or conference without also self-archiving, I completely agree.

> However, I must disagree on your proposed mode for green open access -
> putting all papers on the institutional pages. Here in Austria, a lot
> of institutes don't have a useful publicly accessible paper repository,
> and reorganisation can always lead to loss of data and/or making access
> harder. As point supporting this: since [my former institution] reorganised
> their pages last year, my old technical reports are much harder to find.

(1) Austria has 5 OA Repositories so far registered in the Registry of Open Access
Repositories (ROAR):

(2) If Austria has N universities and institutes of research, each of
them is only a couple of days and a couple of thousand euros away from
having its own OA Repository: The software is free; all it requires is
some space on a linux machine and a couple of days of set-up time:

(3) OA-compliant Repositories are infinitely preferable to arbitrary

(4) OAI-compliant Repositories can harvest existing deposits from other

> So I decided some years ago to always put all of my papers on my
> personal homepage, which is especially sensible when one is working as
> a freelance researcher (i.e. there is no single institution I am assigned
> to), and since it is possible to get a reasonable web-server for almost
> no cost.

Easier, and more functional still: If none of your institutions yet has
an OA IR, deposit your papers in one of the existing OAI-compliant
central Repositories, such as CogPrints or Arxiv:

Or make your own website OAI-compliant, using the free software, e.g.:

> I also think that golden access [OA publishing] is far oversold.
> Surely it does not cost several thousand EUR to make papers available,
> and the money could be more profitably used for research. It is not
> acceptable for researchers to make an excellent paper, push it through
> peer review, and then pay several thousand EUR afterwards for the
> "privilege" of making the paper freely available - something that should
> be guaranteed in any case!

I agree that gold OA is premature and overpriced today. That's why we need
green OA first. If/when 100% green OA causes subscriptions to collapse,
costs will be cut, journals will downsize to become only peer-review
service-providers, and their much reduced costs will be paid out of a
third or less of the annual institutional subscription savings.

> A pure internet publication house without any paper publications would
> be sufficient for most purposes, and could be done very cheaply. Ask
> Google - they could do it for free.

I'd rather have peer review implemented by qualified, experienced
peer-editors, if you don't mind!

Google is good at what it does, but it is not a peer-reviewed research
publisher. And there are 24,000 independent peer-reviewed journals, in all
fields and languages, edited and refereed by qualified peers in each area.

In the Gutenberg era of print-on-paper, a peer-reviewed journal performed
several functions at once: (1) peer review, (2) generating the final
document, (3) disseminating the document. With the online era was
added the function of (4) generating the online version, (5) providing
(licensed) access to the online version, and (6) storing the online
version, (In some cases, (4)-(6) partially or wholly replaced (3).

In the OA era, there is a possibility -- not a certainty, but a
possibility -- that after 100% Green OA is attained (through universal
OA self-archiving, mandated by research institutions and funders)
that the need for (2) - (6) will eventually diminish and disappear,
and then journals will phase out (2) - (6), downsizing to just (1).
At or near that time -- after 100% Green OA, cost-cutting and downsizing,
there will be a conversion to OA publishing (Gold) cost-recovery model,
with the much-reduced cost (of (1) alone) paid as per-article publishing
fees by authors' institutions by redirecting some of their 100% annual windfall
subscription/license cancellation savings.

But that is then, possibly, and now is now, definitely. Now we have only
about 15% Green OA; and what Gold OA there is is being paid for out of
subsidies, charity, or money redirected from research funding.

And what we need, now -- and what is already within reach, and indeed
already overdue -- is 100% OA, through self-archiving and self-archiving
mandates from researchers' institutions and funders, now.

    Optimizing OA Self-Archiving Mandates: What? Where? When? Why? How?

First things first.

Stevan Harnad
Received on Tue Jan 09 2007 - 11:28:30 GMT

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