Re: European Research Council Mandate Green OA Self-Archiving

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Sat, 19 Jan 2008 16:00:36 +0000

On Sat, 19 Jan 2008, Leslie Carr wrote:

> Do ERC (or other short-term funders) research projects result in
> books? I am only an engineer whose gets a bit lost outside STM, but I
> thought that books were written independently by researchers and that
> funded research projects had papers (and similar low-investment texts)
> as explicit research outputs?
> NOTE I am not asking whether books count as research outputs (they do)
> but whether they are the outputs of funded projects. I'll confine the
> scope of the question to single-author books, rather than multi-author
> books or edited collections.

(1) I would be very surprised if it were not the case that (in some
disciplines at least) books count as the outputs of funded research.
(Book citations certainly redound to an author's research credit as
surely as article citations do.)

(2) Insofar as OA (and Green OA self-archiving mandates) are concerned,
however, the relevant question is not whether books count as the outputs
of funded research. (OA is for the outputs of research, whether or not
the research is funded. And Green OA self-archiving mandates apply to
the research output of a university's salaried academics, whether or not
their research receives external funding, just as the university's
publish-or-perish mandate applies to publications irrespective of they
are the result of external funding.)

(3) Another way to put this is that even an academic who receives no
external funding is institutionally funded to do research, inasmuch as
research and publishing are part of his job-description.

(4) So the relevant variable is not funding but whether the research
publication is an author give-away, written purely for the sake of
research uptake, usage and impact -- the way all peer-reviewed articles
are written -- or whether it is also written in the hope of royalty income
(as many books are -- even though their hopes are usually not realized!)

(5) Perhaps trumping even the impact vs royalty question is the question
of the cost of publication, and with it the question of whether a print
run of the publication is desired.

(6) For better or worse, books are still preferentially published and
read as conventional print-runs, rather than online-only, plus local
print-offs by users.

(7) As long as that is true, the essential costs of producing and
distributing a print-on-paper book will differ from the essential costs
of producing and distributed a journal article (which can all be done

(8) Those essential costs of book publication need to be recovered
regardless of whether the author hopes for royalty revenues over and
above them.

(9) Some have suggested that making a book OA online will not hurt but
help the sales of the print edition, but this is far from empirically
established as the general rule (although it has happened in a few cases).

(10) Hence, although funders and institutions can and should mandate the
self-archiving of peer-reviewed articles, they cannot and should not
mandate the self-archiving of books.

(11) If it were proposed to extend Green OA self-archiving mandates
to books, there would be (justified) resistance from both authors and
publishers, and that would needlessly reduce the chances of adoption
for an articles-only mandate.

(12) Once the 2.5 million articles published annually in the world's
25,000 peer-reviewed journals have been made OA by universal Green OA
self-archiving mandates, the number of books and publishers that show an
interest in pursuing a similar option will no doubt increase -- but
that's not the same as subsuming books under the Green OA self-archiving
mandates themselves.

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 Sat Jan 19 2008 - 16:32:22 GMT

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