Re: OA: from free availabilty to free re-use? (Working Paper on OA publishing models)

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Thu, 10 Apr 2008 17:51:46 -0400

On 08-04-10, at 12:13, Armbruster, Chris wrote:

> Much progress has been made towards the free availability of research artic=
> les - by a combination of deposit mandates and self-archiving. But we also =
> know that some of these solutions fall short of what the BOAI originally st=
> ated as its aim by technical, financial or legal barriers: we get only Vers=
> ion 2, there is an embargo, re-use is prohibited, text mining not possible.

The BOAI merely defined OA and stated the objective. It could not
actually provide the OA, only the authors could provide the OA to their
own articles -- by either self-archiving them (Green OA) or publishing
them in an OA journal (Gold OA).

Most authors still have not spontaneously provided OA to their articles,
so funders and universities have begun mandating Green OA self-archiving.

Most funders and universities only mandate self-archiving the author's
refereed, accepted final draft (postprint). That's fine.

About a third of the self-archived deposits are under and access embargo
of 6-12+ months. That's fine too: the email eprint request button of
their Institutional Repository can provide almost-OA during the embargo
(and once Green OA reaches 100% worldwide, the embargoes will all die).

A good deal of text-mining can be done on an OA corpus, but re-publication
is often not allowed. That's fine for now.

The priority is to get all universities and funders to mandate Green
OA self-archiving.

With 100% Green OA, the embargoes, copyright restrictions and permission
barriers will all fall naturally of their own accord.

But start insisting on them now, and all you do is create obstacles for
arriving on the consensus necessary for the adoption and implementation
of Green OA mandates.

Wait for the Green OA to become universal; then the rest will be
easy. Don't make it unnecessarily harder for Green OA to grow by focussing
on the fact that Green OA is enough when it isn't even there yet!

> The original aim of BOAI: "By "open access" to this literature, we mean its=
> free availability on the public internet, permitting any users to read, do=
> wnload, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of these=
> articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software, or use t=
> hem for any other lawful purpose, without financial, legal, or technical ba=
> rriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet its=
> elf."

The BOAI definition of OA was too strong. OA is toll-free online access
to refereed research articles. The re-use rights are desirable too,
but not part of OA. They will be a consequence of it. Insist that they
are part of OA and you will not even be able to get universities and
funders agreed on mandating and authors on providing Green OA.

> Perhaps it is time then to take another look at open access publishing, by =
> which the final and authoritative version would be OA by default. Innovatio=
> n in OA publishing has accelerated in the past 12 months and a multitude of=
> business models now exist beyond the initial 'author pays'. I have complet=
> ed a working paper that is available online (free, open access):

Gold OA is fine, but authors spontaneously providing it even less than
they are spontaneously providing Green OA (self-archiving) -- and,
unlike Green OA, Gold OA cannot be mandated.

So you can be as desirous as you like of Gold OA, but you won't have it
if unless authors want to provide it, and you can't mandate that they
provide it.

But you can mandate that they provide Green OA. And universal Green OA
will lead naturally to Gold OA.

> A European Model for the Digital Publishing of Scientific Information?
> The entire system of scholarly communication is in transition,
> with the emergence of new markets, services and players. Given
> what we know about this digital transition, the technical,
> financial and legal parameters of a future model of publishing
> scientific information are predictable. The contribution of the
> Commission of the European Communities has been to emphasize how
> digital access to scientific information is related to the
> digital preservation of the record of scientific publications and
> data; because if digital preservation is undertaken access cannot
> be guaranteed for future innovations. The proposition for the
> delineation of a European model is developed as follows:
> 1. A digital model may be developed that results in open access,
> while preserving and enhancing the viability of a variety of
> commercial publishing models.

OA is not about digital publication or digital preservation. It is about
toll-free online access to refereed research articles (postprints).

> 2. The institutional players in the publishing system, namely
> publishers, repositories and libraries, must be ready to accept a
> redistribution of the key functions of registration,
> certification, dissemination, archiving and navigation in a
> manner that plays to the strength of each.

There are two "players": The research community -- researchers, their
institutions and their funders, funded by the tax-paying public --
and the publishing community.

Researchers must be ready to accept a Green OA mandate.

Publishers don't have to be ready to accept anything except what the
market dictates.

> 3. The condition for any successful elaboration of a digital
> model is that it is complementary to the technology and economics
> of the internet, while the litmus test is that it enhances the
> impact and re-use of scientific information.

Impact is of interest to researchers, and the incentive underlying the
mandates. Re-use is of some interest too, but lesser interest. Green
OA maximises impact, only requires self-archiving of the postprint, is
already endorsed by two thirds of journals, and the IR's email eprint
request Button takes care of the rest with almost-OA during any embargo.

Authors are ready and willing to self-archive if mandated. We know this
from author surveys as well as actual author behaviour.

There is no evidence at all that they would be equally willing to
negotiate rights with their publishers, and if the publishers fail to
agree, publish other than in their journal of choice. They need not make
that sacrifice for Green OA: It is unlikely most will want to make it
for re-use rights.

But mandate Green OA, let it become universal, and the re-use rights
will follow.

> Open access publishing leads to complementary relationships
> between publishers, libraries and repositories; unrestricted
> access and the widest possible dissemination; and usually
> facilitates the creation of value-added services as an overlay
> from platforms, repositories and libraries. In recent years, a
> number of viable full open access publishing (OAP) models have
> emerged: OAP where the author pays, by subscription, through a
> sponsoring consortium, and by way of support and sponsorship.

All true, but it costs money that researchers don't yet want to pay,
and it cannot be mandated.

Let Green OA be mandated and universal Green OA to prevail. Then if
Green OA makes subscriptions unsustainable, publishing costs will be
cut by jettisoning the print edition and the online edition, offloading
access-provision, archiving and preservation onto the distributed IR
network, and downsizing publishing to just peer review service provision,
whose much-reduced Gold OA costs per article can then be paid out of
the institutional windfall subscription savings.

But for this to happen, first let Green OA mandates do their work without
over-reaching for re-use rights prematurely.

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 Fri Apr 11 2008 - 02:12:27 BST

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