Lower Bound Needed for Permission-Barrier-Free Open Access

From: Stevan Harnad <harnad_at_ecs.soton.ac.uk>
Date: Sun, 4 May 2008 10:07:36 -0400

"Permission-Barrier-Free OA" (regardless of what name we ultimately
agree to assign it), because it is on a continuum, needs at least a
minimal lower bound to be specified, otherwise it is too vague.

"Price-Barrier-Free OA" (regardless of what name we agree on) does
not need an upper or lower bound, because it is not on a continuum.
It just means free access online. However, as I
have suggested before, it does need to be shored up a bit by stating
the obvious:
      (1) The free access is to the full digital document (not
      just to parts of it, or just to its metadata).

      (2) The free access is one-click and non-gerrymandered:
      That means instant download without having to do a song
      and dance for every page (as in Google Books,
      or copy-blocked PDF). (Hence "Almost-OA" [via Closed
      Access plus the "Email Eprint Request" Button] is
      definitely not OA -- though it will help hasten OA's
      growth by making it easier to adopt self-archiving
      mandates, as well as by providing for many urgent
      research usage needs in the meanwhile.)

      (3) The free access is immediate, not delayed or
      embargoed: A document is not OA if it will be accessible
      free in a year, or in 10 or 10,000.

      (4) The free access is permanent and continuous: A
      document is not OA if it is available free for a limited
      time, say, for an hour, or on even-numbered calendar

      (5) There is no "degree of free" access: Lower-priced
      access is not "almost free" access.

      (6) The access is free for any user webwide, not just
      those at certain sites or in certain domains or regions.

For Green Price-Barrier-Free OA self-archiving and Green
Price-Barrier-Free OA self-archiving mandates, all of these
specifications are dead-obvious, irrespective of what proper name we
choose to designate it. They are spelled out only for the pedantic,
the obtuse, and those who might otherwise be tempted to exploit the
word "OA" for other agendas, contrary to the rationale for OA, which
is to maximize research access, uptake, usage and impact in the
online age. 

But in the case of Permission-Barrier-Free OA, regardless of the name
(and even in the case of the BBB definition), a minimal lower bound
has to be specified, otherwise the condition is so vague as to make
no sense. The BBB definition gives examples, but it does not commit
to a lower bound. 

That is like saying "hot" means temperatures like 30 degrees, 300
degrees or 3000 degrees. That still leaves one in perplexity about
what, between 0 degrees and 30 degrees, counts as not hot: In
particular, does Price-Barrier-Free OA alone count as
Permission-Barrier-Free OA? The answer is No, but the only way to
give this condition substance is to specify a minimal lower bound for
Permission-Barrier-Free OA.

Stevan Harnadhttp://openaccess.eprints.org
Received on Sun May 04 2008 - 15:12:22 BST

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