The OA Deposit-Fee Kerfuffle: APA's Not Responsible; NIH Is

From: Stevan Harnad <amsciforum_at_GMAIL.COM>
Date: Wed, 16 Jul 2008 20:41:37 -0400

                      ** Cross-Posted **

In Open Access News, Peter Suber commented on my posting -- "In
Defense of the American Psychological Association's Green OA Policy"
-- which defended the APA from criticism for levying a $2500 fee on
authors for compliance with the NIH mandate to deposit in PubMed
Central (PMC). I had said the problem was with NIH's stipulation that
the deposit had to be in PMC rather than in the author's
own Institutional Repository (IR), because the APA has been a Green
publisher since 2002, endorsing deposit in the author's IR
immediately upon acceptance for publication, with no fee.
      Peter Suber: "Stevan is mixing up unrelated issues.  The
      APA "deposit fee" had nothing to do with the distinction
      between disciplinary repositories (like PMC) and
      institutional repositories.  If the NIH mandated deposit
      in IRs instead of PMC, then the APA would demand a $2,500
      fee for deposit in IRs, and the fee would be equally
      noxious and indefensible.  Even if the NIH's preference
      for PMC were as foolish as Stevan says it is (a criticism
      I do not share), it would not justify the APA fee."

Peter seems to be replying with a hypothetical conditional, regarding
what the APA would have done. But the APA has already been formally
endorsing immediate Open Access self-archiving in the author's own IR
for six years now. Moreover (see below), the publisher, Gary
Vandenbos, has confirmed that APA has not changed that policy, nor
are there plans to change it. 

What needs to be changed is one small detail of NIH's policy: the
requirement to deposit directly in PMC. The locus of deposit should
be the author's own IR. PMC can harvest the metadata and link to the
full-text in the IR. This will cost NIH authors nothing. And APA has
no plans to change its Green OA self-archiving policy. (It would
certainly have put APA in a very bad light if, having given its
authors the green light to self-archive in their own IRs, APA then
decided to slap a $2500 traffic ticket on them for going ahead and
doing so!)

            Date: 15 Jul 2008 23:28:40 -0400
            To: Gary Vandenbos (Publisher, American
            Psychological Association Journals)
            Cc: Alan Kazdin (President, American
            Psychological Association)
            Subject: In Defense of the American
            Psychological Association's Green OA Policy

            Hi Gary (and Alan),

            As long as APA does not dream of back-sliding
            on its 6-year green OA policy on
            institutional self-archiving, you can count
            on my firm support in the forthcoming
            onslaught from OA advocates worldwide, and
            you will weather the storm and come out
            looking good.

            But please do reply to reassure me
            that back-sliding is not an option!

            Best wishes, Stevan

      Date: 16 Jul 2008 2:05:49 AM EDT (CA), 
      From: Gary VandenBos

      Steven, I expect no change in the existing policy. Have
      not ever heard anyone suggest it. 
            Date: 16 Jul 2008 13:22:08 +0100 (BST)
            To: Gary VandenBos

            Splendid. Expect a spirited (and successful)
            defense that will leave APA looking benign
            and responsible (as it indeed is). The
            problem is in the well-meaning juggernauts
            (in this case, NIH OA policy-makers) that
            simply do not think things through.

            Best wishes, Stevan


      Peter Suber: "Stevan points to a 2002 APA policy
      statement, still online, which allows self-archiving in
      IRs.  But he doesn't point out that the APA's newer
      policy statement describing the "deposit fee" effectively
      negates the older green policy, at least for NIH-funded
      authors.  The new policy prohibits NIH-funded authors
      from depositing their postprints in any OA repository,
      disciplinary or institutional."

The 2002 APA policy statement is not only still online and still in
effect, but we have the publisher's word that there is to be no
change in that policy.
      Peter Suber: "The title of Stevan's post suggests that
      he's defending the APA's 2002 self-archiving policy.  I
      join him in that.  But the body of his post attempts to
      defend the 2008 deposit fee as well:  "Although it looks
      bad on the face of it...things are not always as they
      seem."  Not always, but this time."

Not this time, and never for a publisher that is Green on OA. Once a
publisher is Green on OA, there is nothing more that can or should be
demanded of them, by the research community. The ball is now in the
research community's court. It is up to research institutions and
research funders to design sensible policies that will ensure that
the researchers they employ and fund actually provide Green OA for
their joint research output. 

Not all research is funded (and certainly not all by NIH), but
(virtually) all researchers have institutions. And all institutions
are just a piece of free software, some server-space, and a few hours
of sysad set-up and maintenance time away from having an IR, if
they do not already have one. 

The sensible OA mandate, from both institutions and funders (like
NIH) is to require deposit in the researcher's own IR, immediately
upon acceptance for publication. If there is an embargo, the deposit
can be Closed Access during the embargo. The IR's "email eprint
request" button will provide almost-immediate, almost-OA for all user
needs during any embargo.

If funders or others want to create institution-external, central
collections of already-OA content, based on subject matter, funder,
nationality, or whatever, then they can harvest the metadata and link
to the full-text in the IR in which it was deposited. But there is
certainly no reason to insist that it be deposited directly in their
collections. Google, for example, quietly harvests anything: no need
to deposit things in Google. And no charge.
      Peter Suber: "Both arguments are moot for a while, now
      that the APA has taken down the new policy statement for
      "re-examination".  (See the 7/16/08 update to my blog
      post on the policy.)"

I don't doubt that well-meaning OA supporters who have not thought it
through are now railing at APA instead of resolutely requesting that
NIH make the minor modification in its otherwise admirable, timely,
and welcome policy that would put an end to this nonsense and let
researchers get on with the urgent task of providing OA by depositing
their own research in their own OA IRs, free for all, webwide.

(For the record, and the too literal-minded: Of course a $2500 fee
for depositing in PMS is absurd, but what reduced us to this
absurdity was needlessly mandating direct deposit in PMS in the first
place. Time to remedy the absurdity and let researchers' fingers do
the walking so we can all reach 100% OA at long last.)
      A Simple Way to Optimize the NIH Public Access
      Policy (Oct 2004)

      Optimizing OA Self-Archiving Mandates: What? Where? When?
      Why? How? (Sept 2006)

      THE FEEDER AND THE DRIVER: Deposit Institutionally,
      Harvest Centrally (Jan 2008)

      Optimize the NIH Mandate Now: Deposit Institutionally,
      Harvest Centrally (Jan 2008)

      How To Integrate University and Funder Open Access
      Mandates (Mar 2008)

      NIH Invites Recommendations on How to Implement and
      Monitor Compliance with Its OA Self-Archiving
      Mandate (Apr 2008)

      Institutional Repositories vs Subject/Central
      Repositories (Jun 2008)

Stevan Harnad
American Scientist Open Access Forum
Received on Thu Jul 17 2008 - 01:44:31 BST

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