Open Access Post Publication Peer Review

From: Jeff Ellis <doctorellis_at_GMAIL.COM>
Date: Sat, 13 Jan 2007 08:58:09 -0500

Jeffrey Ellis here from NY.  I've been a member of this forum for some
time, and enjoy reading the discussions and debates. 
I wanted to share with you a project that I have been involved with
called: allows visitors to add their own annotations to any
article indexed in PubMed.  In this way, we facilitate 100% OA of post
publication discussion and debate.  This is an exciting alternative to a
traditional letter to the editor, because comments submitted here are:
1. Open Access
2. Indexed directly with the original citation - so that they can be read
at the same time an abstract is read when performing a literature search
3. When comments are submitted, they are shared with authors and experts
on the topic to stimulate meaningful discussion.
4. Comments are published instantly
We have many other developments in the works, and look forward to sharing
them with you in the near future.
Any and all feedback is welcome.
Kind Regards,
Jeff Ellis, MD
Founder of
On 1/13/07, Automatic digest processor <>
      There is one message totalling 391 lines in this issue.

      Topics of the day:

      1. Cliff Lynch on Open Access


      Date:    Thu, 11 Jan 2007 16:15:39 -0500
      From:    Stevan Harnad <harnad_at_ECS.SOTON.AC.UK >
      Subject: Cliff Lynch on Open Access

      Pertinent Prior AmSci Topic Thread:
         "Cliff Lynch on Institutional Archives" (started Mar 2003)

      At the SPARC/ARL Forum on "Improving Access to Publicly
      Funded Research
      Policy Issues and Practical Strategies" (Oct 20 2006)
      Cliff Lynch presented "Improving Access to Research Results:
      Six Points"

      Some of Cliff's points are welcome and valid; some a bit more

>    1. Open Access Is Inevitable: How Best to Get There?
>    I don't want to spend time here arguing about a precise
      definition of
>    open access -- suffice it to say that open access means
      an increased
>    elimination of barriers to the use of the scholarly

      Unfortunately, it does not suffice to say that OA is just
      elimination of barriers to the use of the scholarly

      OA is a very specific *special case* of the "increased
      of barriers to the use of the scholarly literature," and it
      does not
      help to dissolve that specific case into the vaguer general
      category of
      "reducing barriers".

      OA is: free online access to peer-reviewed research journal

      Neither (i) the specific problem that OA is specifically
      meant to solve --
      that of making research accessible to all its would-be users
      online --
      nor (ii) the specific means of solving that problem is
      brought into
      focus by blurring the objective into "reducing barriers."

      The means of solving the specific problem of OA is for
      institutions and funders to mandate OA self-archiving ("Green

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

      And although there is a link between research accessibility
      journal affordability, that link is indirect, and subtle, in
      online age. It would be incorrect and simplistic to imagine
      the research accessibility problem and the journal
      problem (or their respective solutions) are one and the same.
      are not.

>    There's been a lot of discussion about the desirability
      and potential
>    implications of federal government mandates about
      deposit and access
>    to the reports of findings of federally funded research.
      We should
>    not forget that, even in disciplines where federal
      agencies are
>    generous funders, a substantial part of the literature
      reports on
>    the results of research that isn't federally funded.

      That is why the discussion is about funder *and*
      mandates: That covers all research output, funded and
      (See Lynch's own Point 2.)

>    In my view, when we think about the fundamental
      integrity of
>    the scholarly record available for open access via the
>    we would be much better served if we can make the shift
      to open
>    access at the level of entire journals or entire
      publisher journal
>    portfolios rather than article by article.

      100% OA would be welcome in any way it could be provided,
      Green OA, by self-archiving 100% of journal articles, or Gold
      by converting 100% of journals to OA publishing, and then

      But most publishers are not converting to OA Gold publishing;
      funders and institutions cannot mandate that they convert.

      Moreover (as Cliff points out in two of his other, valid
      below) there is the sticky question of the per-article
      price* for OA Gold publishing, which is rather arbitrary at
      time. Gold OA is not worth purchasing at any price -- in view
      the fact that Green OA is available as an alternative, and
      can be mandated,
      and can drive the price of Gold OA to the true cost of the

      Hence there is no earthly reason to wait and hope for a
      transition to 100% OA via Gold OA, journal by journal. What
      to be OA is the *articles,* and those can and should and will
      be made
      100% OA via institution/funder self-archiving mandates of
      the kind that are increasingly being implemented and proposed

      If there is to be Gold OA at all, then the road to Gold OA is
      via Green
      OA. But once we have mandated 100% Green OA, we already have
      100% OA,
      so whether or not there is eventually a transition to Gold OA
      supererogatory. Rather than speculate about it now, we should
      get on
      with the do-able task of mandating and providing Green OA.

>    We know from past experience that it's very difficult
      for many
>    users of the scholarly record to understand what they
      are navigating
>    and exploiting when there's only partial coverage.

      The remedy for that "partial coverage" is not to keep waiting
      (and/or to pay the pre-emptive asking price of) journal by
      Gold OA, but to mandate Green OA right now, so we can reach
      OA at long last.

>    Of course, if we can't persuade the journals and the
      publishers to
>    support the move to open access, we'll have to go to
      less optimal
>    approaches like author self-archiving and mandates by
>    research funding agencies (both government and private).

      How much longer does Cliff propose that we to wait, trying to
      persuade journals and publishers to move? (We have already
      waiting well over a decade now.)

      And what determines whether the asking price is the right

>    it may well be that the threat of legislation mandating
>    of research results may be doing more good, in terms of
>    progress and focusing discussion on the issues with a
      certain sense
>    of urgency, than actual legislation would. And while I'm
      not opposed
>    to legislative intervention here, I'd hope that any
      legislation that
>    is enacted is transparent and invisible to authors who
      publish with
>    journals that appropriately support open access.

      It is gratifying to hear that Cliff is not opposed to OA
      but this sounds a bit confusing, or confused: The mandates
      are to
      self-archive published articles (Green) not to publish in OA
      (Gold). The goal is to generate OA (Green), not to pressure
      into converting to Gold.

      If what Cliff means is that mandates should not constrain
      choice of journals, I agree; but journals need not even be
      Only the requirement to deposit the final peer reviewed
      draft, as
      soon as it is accepted for publication, needs to be
      mentioned. And
      if the mandates allow an embargo period at all (I don't think
      should, or need to, but if they are nevertheless bent upon
      it, as some appear to be), let the allowable embargo be
      minimal (6
      months at most) and during the embargo period, while the
      is in Closed Access rather than Open Access, all research
      needs can be fulfilled via the semi-automatic EMAIL EPRINT
      button in each Institution's Repository, which provides
      almost-OA on an individual basis. Such a mandate also moots
      journal copyright policy issues that might have constrained
      journal-choice of the author in complying with the mandate.

>    2. Universities Have a Key Stake in the Future of the
>    Literature and Thus Should Support Faculty in
      Negotiations with
>    Publishers

      Here Cliff is perhaps advocating mandated rights negotiation,
      would not be a bad idea *if* it could be successfully adopted
      author objections that it too could constrain their choice of

      And successful rights negotiation is not really necessary as
      precondition for mandated self-archiving. Immediate deposit
      can be
      mandated without any reference to journal policy; 70% of
      already endorse immediate setting of access to Open Access.
      For the
      remaining 30%, access can be provisionally set to Closed
      Access and
      the EMAIL EPRINT REQUEST button can tide over usage needs
      any embargo period. (Embargos will soon collapse under OA
      pressure in any case, as self-archiving grows.)

      So the best thing universities can do for OA is not just to
      their weight behind rights negotiations, but to mandate
      deposit, complementing the funder mandates.

>    My worst nightmare is that rights to the scholarly
      literature become
>    so fragmented

      Practices should not be dictated by nightmares but by clear
      in the light of day: Once the full-texts of all articles are
      self-archived and freely accessible online, the uses Cliff
      envisages (automatic harvesting, data-mining, etc.) will all
      with the territory. No need to keep them all in the same
      journal for that.

>    Again, this connects to the theme of the overall
      integrity of the
>    scholarly record, and our need to be able to manage this
>    at scale.

      The scholarly record will now be distributed across a
      network of interoperable Institutional Repositories. Articles
      data will be the principal items of interest; and the journal
      appeared in will simply be among their metadata tags.

>    3. We Need to Talk Directly about the Support of
      Scholarly Societies

      Here Cliff rightly calls into question whether the other
      works" of Scholarly Societies should continue to be
      subsidised by
      authors' lost research impact. The answer, of course, is No;
      that will become clear to all once it is discussed openly.

      But, again, what is at issue is not cajoling or coercing
      -- whether Scholarly-Society, commercial or otherwise -- to
      to Gold. (It would be helpful if they endorsed immediate
      Green, but
      even that is only desirable, but not necessary in advance.)

>    their journals typically are viewed as offering high
      quality at
>    reasonable cost, and there's no reason that they
      shouldn't continue
>    to be highly competitive if one moves away from a
      reader-pays model.

      Not if one stays with the model and simply mandates
      (with or without publisher endorsement). (And, to repeat, OA
      is not
      solely, or primarily about OA Gold: it is about OA. No need
      to move
      way from models: just to move fingers to keyboard in order to

>    4. We Need to Think about What We Can Afford in
      Scholarly Publishing

      This recommendation too, is far too focussed on OA Gold and
      speculative economics.

      What "we" need to do is to forget about affordability and to
      OA self-archiving. And to move our fingers to the keyboard,
      to get
      going on the depositing...

>    One takes the operating budget or historic revenue
      stream of a
>    given journal and divides by the number of articles
>    or submitted, and announces the per-published-article
      cost (or
>    submitted-article-cost, if one uses that model) for an
      open access
>    journal.

      I agree that this is an extremely arbitrary way of setting
      asking price for OA Gold publishing. The only essential
      of that current price is the cost of implementing peer
      review, which
      is somewhere between $50 and $500 per article.

      But I don't agree that we should be fussing about that now at
      It's late in the day. Time to forget about Gold Fever and get
      fingers moving, to provide immediate OA.

>    Perhaps the system needs to be redesigned to deliver a
      price point per
>    article that we can afford. Suppose we redesigned
      journal publishing
>    with the goal of $100 per article published?

      Pick your price, but this is virtual design of a virtual
      Pre-emptive OA Gold.

      The actual solution requires no guesstimating or publishing
      voluntary or coerced, nor this continued waiting and
      speculation: It
      just requires that researchers' institutions and funders
      OA self-archiving, now.

      (And who are "We"? We are the research community: We can
      self-archiving. We can move our fingers to provide the OA.
      But we
      can't redesign journal publishing. And we don't need to.
      That's not
      what OA is about. OA is about providing OA. Gold is just one
      way to provide OA, and it's proving to be an extremely slow
      uncertain one, spending far more time contemplating
      economics than providing actual OA. And it can't be mandated.
      in contrast, can and does provide immediate OA, and awaits
      being mandated in order to expand to 100%. And the mandates
      are on
      the way. Because they come from Us, the research community,
      providers and users of the articles that we are seeking to
      make OA.
      No need to "redesign" anything but our digital kinematics --
      and I don't mean financial or even cybernetic digits, but the
      dactyls at the beck and call of every one of us...)

      But Cliff is back at the financial digits:

>    Or, if articles really must cost several thousand
      dollars each,
>    and we are unwilling to deal with the implications or
      results of
>    massively reducing costs, we need to explore what can we
      do to reduce
>    the number of articles going into this costly system.

      By now, we have long forgotten the immediate, pressing,
      problem, which is OA, and we have launched into the usual
      round of
      passive armchair speculations about the journal affordability
      and publishing reform.

>    similar questions can and should be asked about
      monograph publishing

      Yes, but let those questions and answers be kept separate
      from the
      problem at hand, which is OA, i.e., in the first instance,
      Access to the 2.5 million articles published yearly in the
      24,000 peer reviewed journal, every single one of which is
      always has been an author give-away, written solely for the
      of usage and impact, not for the sake of earning royalty
      Not true of monographs.

      First things first. Let's mandate and reach 100% OA for OA's
      target, journal articles, and then contemplate the
      generalizability of
      our fabulous success to other forms of literature.

      In the meantime, no one is stopping monograph authors (or
      fingers) from making their books OA too, if they so wish, and
      their publishers can afford to publish them anyway. But let
      us not
      contemplate *mandating* that sort of thing just yet!

>    5. Open Access Is Not a Threat to Peer Review: In Fact,
      It Has
>    Nothing to Do with Peer Review -- but It Is Also Time to
      Talk about
>    Peer Review

      Yes, it is not a threat. Yes, it has nothing to do with it.
      And no,
      OA is not the context to talk about peer review. (If this is
      the time,
      then it should be talked about separately, elsewhere; nothing
      to do with

>    The economic model underlying a journal has nothing to
      do with
>    its peer review policy -- or its quality. There are many
>    journals that practice rigorous peer review.  Indeed,
      going beyond
>    just peer review, there seems to be no correlation
      between journal
>    cost and quality.

      These truisms are worth repeating, since so many still fail
      to grasp

      But Cliff raises them misleadingly: OA is not the same thing
      Gold OA. The peer-review issue is not just raised as a
      about the quality standards of Gold OA journals. It is also
      by some publishers who keep proclaiming willy-nilly the
      scenario that mandating Green OA self-archiving will destroy
      and peer review. That is the empty alarmism that needs to be
      for what it really is:

         Berners-Lee, T., De Roure, D., Harnad, S. and Shadbolt, N.
         Journal publishing and author self-archiving: Peaceful
         and Fruitful Collaboration.

>    At the same time -- and having just emphasized the
      complete disconnect
>    between open access and peer review, I almost hate to
      mention this
>    for fear of adding to the confusion -- we are long
      overdue for
>    a nuanced analysis and reevaluation of peer review
      practices in
>    scholarly publishing as an entirely separate issue from
      open access.

      Don't mention it (in this context)!

      It is indeed irrelevant to OA and only adds confusion to
      and delay and indecision to what has already been
      for far too long...

>    We need to understand the extent of these costs and
      their implications.

      The costs of peer review alone can be vaguely estimated now,
      have been:

      But the only way to determine the *true* costs of peer review
      (once all other obsolescent publishing functions have been
      [like print] or offloaded [like online access-provision and
      onto the distributed network of OA IRs) is to mandate Green
      and then let
      nature take its course in the online era.

      (Don't ask me why nature couldn't take its course without the
      of mandates, when 34,000 researchers were ready to do the
      threatening to boycott their journals if they did not provide
      but it never occurred to them to go ahead and do the
      keystrokes to
      provide the OA themselves! I don't know the answer. It's a
      and I've dubbed it Zeno's Paralysis. But the affliction is
      by mandates, freely applied to the research community's body

         Harnad, S. (2006) Opening Access by Overcoming Zeno's
         in Jacobs, N., Eds. Open Access: Key Strategic, Technical
         Economic Aspects, chapter 8. Chandos.

>    6. Scholarly Publishing Is a Means to an End

>    Just because the existing scholarly publishing system
      has served
>    the academy fairly well in the past does not mean that
      it has an
>    intrinsic right to continue to exist in perpetuity.

      Let those who wish to reform the scholarly publishing system
      better serve the academy so declare their intentions and
      full-speed with their worthy agenda. But let those who merely
      to maximise online access to a very specific subset of
      publications (peer-reviewed research articles), right now,
      toward their specific, distinct, immediately reachable goal
      without being hamstrung by other admirable but irrelevant

      Stevan Harnad


      2007 to 12 Jan 2007 (#2007-5)

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