Re: Forget About Yesterday's Literature: First Do Now, Now

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Wed, 19 Dec 2007 13:32:07 +0000

    [Posted with permission]

On Wed, 19 Dec 2007, Prof. Bob Oades wrote:

> > SH:
> > (1) The new [German] law pertains to posting the legacy
> > literature (1966-1994).
> BO:
> right - if sceptical, I accept that the solution for most University
> researchers is to transfer rights to the University library.
> ("Sceptical" because I do not see that we have any rights to transfer!)
> Nonetheless, with a new law sharpening publishers' rights, I fear it could
> encourage publishers' legal departments to be more zealous in pursuing
> "their rights" under the law with respect to more recent publications

Bob, I think you may be misunderstanding me. The solution I propose
is not for researchers "to transfer rights to the University library"
(though retaining rights is always welcome where successful) but
to deposit all their articles in their University Repository (IR)
(immediately upon acceptance for publication -- and to deposit their
previously published articles too).

This is called the ID/OA (Immediate-Deposit/Optional-Access)
Mandate. It is immediately implementable, universally, and it is
completely compatible with existing copyright law and copyright

The metadata for all deposits are immediately and permanently accessible
webwide. Access to the full-text itself can be made Open Access (OA)
for the 62% of articles published in journals that already endorse
immediate OA. The remaining 38% of the deposited articles can, if the
author wishes, be made Closed Access during any publisher embargo,
and individual eprints can be emailed semi-automatically to fulfill
any would-be user's request, prompted by the metadata, using the IR's
"email eprint request" button. This provides almost-instant, almost-OA
and hastening the natural and well-deserved death of all embargoes under
the growing universal pressure from the palpable benefits of OA.

> > SH:
> > (2) German researchers are not yet posting their own *current*
> > articles on the web.
> BO:
> Alas! A small majority do not care about promoting communication of
> their work, and a large majority have that 'German respect' for every
> comma and iota of the law and would not put their work on the web.

That same 'German respect' will then also induce your colleagues to
comply with the ID/OA mandate -- once their institutions and funders
adopt, as a growing number are at last beginning to do, worldwide:

> > SH:
> > (3) If they post all their current articles on the web, OA will
> > quickly prevail, and the legacy literature will become less
> > and less of a resource worth publishers' while even trying to defend.
> BO:
> Yes (a wonderful vision) - but as you say, this would only work if the
> publishers were faced with a mass revolt and everyone put their work
> on the web. (I think Germany will be one of the last countries to show
> such a people' s revolution. They will do it if told to!)

No, all it requires is that all universities and research funders adopt
the ID/OA mandate!

> > SH:
> > (4) All current articles, without exception, can already be deposited
> > in the author's own IR, right now; this is true of each author's own
> > past (legacy) articles too.
> BO:
> You say, "can" be deposited in - physically 'can' is correct. But most
> post 1994 work, according to the letter of the publishing contract
> should not be on the web in the author's own 'institute/information
> repository' (= IR?) I refer mostly to Elsevier, Springer, Wiley and
> OUP/CUP who publish most work in the life and neurosciences (my fields).
> No signature, no publication.

You are still misunderstanding (hence underestimating) ID/OA: It is only
*deposit* that is mandated, and this can be done in 100% of the cases
(including for the retrospective literature). It is only
*access-setting* with which copyright is concerned. Deposit is merely
internal record-keeping, and copyright has no more say over that than
it does over whether an author deposits his own article in a filing

By the way, Elsevier, Springer, Wiley and CUP are among the 62% with
a Full-Green OA self-archiving policy: They all endorse immediate OA

Only OUP is still Pale-Green: They endorse immediate OA self-archiving
of the preprint, but impose an embargo on the postprint:

> If I were to put my pdfs on our group web-site I would risk
> a 600 euro fine

Solution: Deposit them in your IR, set access to Closed Access, and for
the time being rely on the IR's semi-automatic "email eprint request"
Button to fulfill all user needs by providing almost-instant, almost-OA,
while the growing global pressure from the benefits of OA hastens the
natural death of access embargoes. (Meanwhile, you will have a flattering
record of your eprint-requests at the cost of one keystroke per request;
once OA prevails, the IR's software will tally the downloads automatically

(No need to deposit the publisher's proprietary PDF: Many more
publishers endorse immediate OA for the author's peer-reviewed final
draft [postprint] than for the publisher's proprietary PDF, and the
postprint is all that the access-denied would-be users need!)

> [Locally, the University of Duisburg-Essen represents one of the last
> places to expect advances in participating in OA. Finally this autumn
> the University library has started a university depository for
> published titles (pdfs are presumably to be found elsewhere!).
> Again and again my faculty of medicine has shown little official
> interest in OA, let alone actively participating, by for example
> joining/subscribing to Biomed Central - even though a few colleagues
> have used these publishing outlets]

(1) It is true not only at Duisburg-Essen but worldwide that only about
15% of researchers self-archive spontaneously (unmandated). But this
figure rises within two years to near-100% compliance if self-archiving
is mandated.

(2) The solution is to mandate OA for 100% of journal articles in the
world's 25,000 peer-reviewed journals, not to wait for authors to switch
to publishing in the c. 3000 of them that are OA journals.

    Swan, A. and Brown, S. (2005) Open access self-archiving:
    An author study. JISC Technical Report, Key Perspectives Inc.

    Sale, Arthur (2006) Researchers and institutional repositories, in
    Jacobs, Neil, Eds. Open Access: Key Strategic, Technical and Economic
    Aspects, chapter 9, pages 87-100. Chandos Publishing (Oxford) Limited.

    Sale, A. The Impact of Mandatory Policies on ETD Acquisition. D-Lib
    Magazine April 2006, 12(4).

    Sale, A. Comparison of content policies for institutional
    repositories in Australia. First Monday, 11(4), April 2006.

    Sale, A. The acquisition of open access research
    articles. First Monday, 11(9), October 2006.

    Sale, A. (2007) The Patchwork Mandate D-Lib Magazine 13 1/2

> > SH:
> > (5) For any deposit, past or present, where the publisher does not yet
> > endorse making it OA, the author can make the deposit Closed Access and
> > rely (for the time being) on the IR's semi-automatic "email eprint
> > request" button, which provides one-on-one "fair use" single copies:
> BO:
> Yes: this is I suppose the solution to my headache. But its a cop-out.

It is not a cop-out at all. It (1) immunizes you against (absurd) 600-euro
fines, it (2) provides instant OA to 62% of current research, it (3)
provides almost-instant almost-OA to 38% of current research and to 100%
of previous research, and it (4) hastens the demise of OA embargoes.

> > SH:
> > (6) This is almost-immediate, almost-OA, and together with the over
> > 62% of articles that already have their publishers' green light for
> > immediate OA, it covers all of OA plus almost-OA space, and is
> > sufficient to make all the OA dominoes fall soon after.
> BO:
> But despite your guarded or careful optimism, I see the email-address
> solution as a level below "green OA" and a step backwards. Your 62%
> figure, indeed the tone of many BOAI communications would make one
> optimistic about OA progress. Alas from my field, my personal
> interactions and steps backward in Germany the view is difficult to share.

Please see the EPrints Romeo Directory for the 62% figure:

And a "step backwards" from what? OA is only being provided
spontaneously for about 15% of research output today. ID/OA mandates
would ensure 62% instant OA and 38% almost-instant, almost-OA,
immediately. How is that a step backwards?

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 Wed Dec 19 2007 - 14:03:23 GMT

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