Re: Open Access to Books?

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Sun, 20 Jan 2008 22:08:36 +0000

On Sun, 20 Jan 2008, Pablo Ortellado wrote:

> You may call it OA or not, but books in many cases should be mandatorily
> made available on the Internet...

Mandatorily "in many cases"? How many? And which? and who decides, how?

Please take a moment to reflect.

The substantive issue is not what we do and don't call "OA."

The issue is what we can and cannot consensually mandate (and what a
mandate is).

After much too long a delay, the momentum is finally gathering for
funders and universities to adopt Green OA mandates to deposit all
peer-reviewed research journal articles in OA repositories. (Not "in
many cases": all, without exception: that's why/how it's a mandate.)

The reason those mandates proved possible was that all the authors of
all those articles (as well as their universities and their funders)
without exception, wanted to give away those articles for free online.

None of them sought royalty revenues or print sales -- they sought only
maximal research impact.

None of this is true without exception, or even majoritarily, of books. It
is true of some authors of some books. And those authors are all free
to deposit them in their OA IR if they wish.

But if you insist on including books in the deposit mandates, you will
simply prevent the adoption of the mandates themselves, because they
were predicated on consensus among authors, their institutions and
their funders that their articles were intended as give-aways all along
(even before the online era). There is no such consensus on books
(in fact, I suspect, far from it).

Not only are the same OA IRs there, ready for books to be
deposited into them too; they can even be deposited IDOA,
if the author wishes: Closed Access but with the option of
emailing one copy to any requesters the author approves.

And as with Gold OA journal publishing, book publishers are more
than welcome to experiment with offering free online access, as
National Academies Press does, extremely successfully and valuably:

But on no account should we needlessly jeopardize the spread of Green OA
self-archiving mandates today, just when adoptions are at last beginning
to gather speed, by raising the goal-posts, this time to a height for
which the research community can no longer sustain its natural consensus,
by now declaring that book deposit is to be mandatory too.

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 Sun Jan 20 2008 - 22:23:54 GMT

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