Re: OA mandate for NIH clears another hurdle

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Thu, 19 Jul 2007 23:06:17 +0100

    [Posted with permission -- Apologies for cross-posting]]

On Thu, 19 Jul 2007, Albanese, Andrew (Library Journal -- Reed Business)

> AA:
> Hello Stevan: Andrew Albanese from Library Journal hoping to get
> your take on the NIH's recent policy proposal--mandatory deposit
> in PubMed Central within one year. Do you think this will be an
> effective policy? I have my doubts, but wanted to ask you a few
> questions:

Dear Andrew,

Here is my reply -- but first please let me stress that this should not
be construed as *opposing* the proposed new NIH policy! I still vastly
prefer the proposed new policy over the old NIH policy, or over no mandate
at all. It's just that with a few small parametric tweaks it could be
so much more useful; and, as it stands, it provides a bad model, which,
if not first fixed, could be mimicked blindly for several years to come,
until everyone comes to their senses...

So, no: I don't think the proposed new NIH policy will be an effective
one, for much the reasons you cite below:

> AA:
> 1) In the age of the Internet and search engines, etc., is it
> really necessary, or optimal to mandate deposit of papers in a
> single, government-run archive? Does this run the risk of creating
> a de-facto one year embargo?

Definitely neither necessary nor optimal! And, yes, in insisting on
deposit in a central repository, NIH helps lock us into a de-facto
1-year embargo.

    Swan, A., Needham, P., Probets, S., Muir, A., Oppenheim, C., O?Brien,
    A., Hardy, R., Rowland, F. and Brown, S. (2005) Developing a model
    for e-prints and open access journal content in UK further and higher
    education. Learned Publishing 18(1) pp. 25-40.

    "Central vs. Distributed Archives" (began Jun 1999)

    "Central versus institutional self-archiving" (began Nov 2003)

    "France's HAL, OAI interoperability, and
     Central vs Institutional Repositories" (started Oct 2006)

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

> AA:
> 2) If public access is the goal, wouldn't it be more effective to
> link out to publishers sites, or repositories or self-archived
> sites? I offer this example:
> I pay the $3000 to publish my article in commercial
> journal under an "open access" style plan. I also self-archive it,
> allowed under my publishing agreement. But under the NIH deposit
> plan, how would a researcher visiting PubMed Central know my
> article is freely available on the publishers' site, or my own web
> site? Wouldn't commercial publishers be inclined to exercise the
> full one year embargo allowed under the NIH policy, even on
> articles published under "open access" hybrid models, to ensure
> traffic to their journal's web site isn't strained? Under that
> scenario, could the NIH policy actually hamper wider public access?

Yes, you are right -- insofar as embargos on PubMed Central
deposits are concerned. (Of course, an article whose final draft has
been self-archived on the author's own IR -- or an article that has
paid for OA on the publisher's website -- would be OA immediately: it
would only be the PubMed version that was embargoed.)

> AA:
> Just trying to get a handle on this for an LJ piece...

Hope that helps. In my opinion, Elsevier has done absolutely
everything anyone could fairly ask of a publisher, for the sake of
OA, at this historic point:

Elsevier has endorsed immediate deposit of the author's own final,
accepted draft in the author's own IR since 2003. Both the stipulation
that Elsevier does not allow deposit of its own proprietary PDF, and
that it does not endorse deposit in a central repository are perfectly
reasonable conditions that are in no way obstacles to OA (no matter what
some of the more blinkered OA zealots may say!).

Although it would be helpful if Elsevier did not lobby against
self-archiving mandates by funders and institutions [!], Elsevier's
explicit policy on self-archiving itself is welcome and responsible,
and I will never lose an opportunity to commend it and hold it up as
a model for all responsible publishers. In my view, it even trumps any
objections that libraries may have to Elsevier's prices. If libraries wish
to complain that their users cannot access the articles in the journals
they cannot afford, they should now blame the authors of those articles
for not self-archiving them, not Elsevier, for not lowering their prices!

Stevan Harnad

If you have adopted or plan to adopt a policy of providing Open Access
to your own research article output, please describe your policy at:
    BOAI-1 ("Green"): Publish your article in a suitable toll-access journal
    BOAI-2 ("Gold"): Publish your article in an open-access journal if/when
    a suitable one exists.
    in BOTH cases self-archive a supplementary version of your article
    in your own institutional repository.
Received on Thu Jul 19 2007 - 23:23:06 BST

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