Re: AAAS (Green), Nature (Pale-Green), ACS (Gray)

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Mon, 22 Oct 2007 13:25:42 +0100

             [Posted with permission]

On Sun, 21 Oct 2007, Alma Swan wrote:

> > [Stevan said]: In my opinion, there is nothing to reproach
> > AAAS with. I'd be somewhat more inclined to shame Nature,
> > with its 6-month embargo, but the best solution for that
> > is to adopt the Immediate-Deposit Mandate, which allows a
> > Closed Access Embargo, but requires deposit of the postprint
> > immediately upon acceptance for publication (allowing
> > the Institutional Repository' semi-automatized "Email
> > Eprint Request" or "Fair Use" Button to provide almost-OA
> > almost-immediately, to tide over any embargo period).
> >
> There is no need to shame Nature because those who think
> self-archiving is worth doing, do it despite Nature's embargo, as I
> showed by my little study on Nature Physics: see "Author compliance
> with publisher open access embargoes: a study of the journal Nature
> Physics."
> The important action point is what it always has been - get through to
> authors and their bosses and persuade them of the benefits and rationale
> for OA. Turn them all into physicists, in other words.

I agree completely with Alma: It is, and always has been, perfectly
possibly -- and practised -- to go ahead and self-archive with impunity,
sensibly ignoring all the formal nonsense about only being allowed to
post on "a Windows-based personal website on Tuesdays if you have a
blue-eyed maternal uncle"! Those who elect to self-archive spontaneously
are sensible enough to know that the "permissions barriers" are in
reality all just so much unenforceable Wizard-of-Ozzery.

But the fact remains that only about 15% of researchers elect to
self-archive spontaneously! That is why the mandates are needed. And
whereas rightly dismissing the posturing of publishers as mere
Wizard-of-Ozzery is an easy option for individual authors, already
inclined to self-archive spontaneously (as generations of Green
self-archiving computer-scientists and physicists and others have by
now amply demonstrated), it is not an easy option for most institutions
and funding agencies contemplating the adoption of formal self-archiving
mandates. They must adopt a policy that is not only practically feasible,
but also formally legal. (Even there, I don't think the institutions
are at any real risk, but they are at a perceived risk.)

That is why -- despite being in possession of her strong, welcome,
and compelling evidence on how many Nature authors do self-archive
immediately indifferent to Nature's shameful 6-month embargo -- Alma
is a co-author of the optimal institutional (and funder) self-archiving
policy, which recommends (if you cannot agree on the stronger version,
which is to require immediate deposit and immediate, unembargoed Open
a weaker compromise, namely, the ID/OA mandate: require immediate
deposit, but merely encourage immediate OA -- allowing the option
of a Closed Access embargo period for the likes of Nature authors: )
    "[drafted collaboratively by Alma Swan, Arthur Sale, Subbiah
    Arunachalam, Peter Suber and Stevan Harnad by modifying the Wellcome
    Trust Self-Archiving Policy to eliminate the 6-month embargo and
    the central archiving requirement]"

So, yes, the embargoes are a paper tiger, but we still have to offer a
formal policy option that treats their appearance of being real as if
it were really real, and can be adopted universally without any worry
about illegality, or even the appearance of illegality)!

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 Mon Oct 22 2007 - 13:33:45 BST

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