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

From: Stevan Harnad <amsciforum_at_GMAIL.COM>
Date: Fri, 18 Jul 2008 21:31:17 -0400

      ** Apologies for Cross-Posting ** [see also PART
      I and PART 0]

      Peter Suber: "At the moment, I see two conflicting APA
      statements and no evidence that either statement
      [2002 or 2008] took the other into account. So I'm still
      waiting for a definitive clarification from the APA. But
      as I say, if the APA reaffirms the 2002 policy to allow
      no-fee, no-embargo self-archiving to IRs, then I will
      applaud it."

That will shortly sort itself out. It seems obvious to me that the
only coherent resolution is that the 2002 Green OA policy takes
precedence over the contradictory passages in the 2008 PMC addendum.
It would be arbitrary bordering on dementia to say:
            "Our policy is that you can self-archive in
            your IR for free as long as it is not
            mandated by NIH, but if it is mandated by
            NIH, you must pay us $2500 to do so!"

I predict that the proposed APA policy will first be:
            "All we meant was that, as before, you may
            self-archive in your IR for free, but
            depositing in PMC will cost you $2500."

And then they will back down from the surcharge altogether. (I do
have a bit of a track-record for correctly second-guessing APA
      Peter Suber: "However, if the APA retains the "deposit
      fee" for NIH-funded authors, then I will continue to
      criticize it. The APA will still be charging for green
      OA, which is utterly unnecessary."

Do continue to criticize it, Peter, but please make sure the
criticism is on target: As long as APA authors are free to provide
green OA by depositing in their own IRs, APA can definitely not be
said to be "charging for green OA" if APA charges authors for
depositing in PMC (any more than I can be said to be charging for
water if I say "water is free but bring your own container" and you
insist on water water in a container).

The $2500 fee is indeed absurd, but that absurdity (and a lot more
absurdity) would be completely remedied by NIH's simply dropping its
supererogatory PMC direct-deposit requirement, and harvesting the
metadata from the IRs instead. A central collection like PMC is just
that: a collection. It is sufficient for such collections to harvest
the metadata (as Google does) and to link to the full-text where it
is actually deposited: the IR of the institution it came from.
      Peter Suber: "[APA] will still fail to deliver immediate
      OA, or OA to the published edition, which fee-based [Gold
      or optional-Gold] OA journals always deliver in exchange
      for their fees."

You mean the publisher's proprietary version? But even the NIH
mandate is only requiring deposit of the author's final refereed
draft, not the publisher's proprietary version:
            The NIH Public Access Policy implements
            Division G, Title II, Section 218 of PL
            110-161 (Consolidated Appropriations
            Act,2008).  The law states:

            The Director of the National Institutes of
            Health shall require that all investigators
            funded by the NIH submit or have submitted
            for them to the National Library of
            Medicine's PubMed Central an electronic
            version of their final, peer-reviewed
            manuscripts upon acceptance for publication,
            to be made publicly available no later than
            12 months after the official date of
            publication: Provided, That the NIH shall
            implement the public access policy in a
            manner consistent with copyright law.

I also think you may be equating the $2500 fee with a (hybrid) Gold
OA fee, but it is not that. It is a PMC deposit fee. (There is no
relevant category for a 3rd-party-collection deposit requirement,
because it is arbitrary, and it has nothing to do with OA itself,
which APA authors can already provide via Green OA in their own IRs.)

Moreover, to heap absurdity upon absurdity, we both know, Peter, that
(1) not only does it not matter one bit, for OA accessibility to one
and all, webwide, whether a document's locus is an IR or a CR, but
(2) if and when all of OA's target content is made OA, one way or the
other, then the distinction between 1st-party (author-institution),
2nd-party (publisher) and 3rd party (PMC, UKPMC, EuroPMC, Google, or
any other CR) archiving becomes irrelevant, the game is over,
universal OA has at last arrived, and all these trivial locus and
party details as well as this absurd talk of deposit surcharges
becomes moot.

The problem is with first getting to universal OA, at long last.

And coordinated, convergent IR deposit mandates -- funder mandates
complementing institutional mandates -- will get us there far more
surely and swiftly than the needless and counterproductive divergence
we have imposed on ourselves by not thinking the PMC locus
stipulation through in advance (or fixing it as it becomes more and
more apparent that it creates superfluous problems).
      Peter Suber: "If the APA reaffirms its 2002 green policy,
      then NIH-funded authors could bypass the deposit fee when
      self-archiving to their IRs. But they couldn't bypass the
      fee when self-archiving to PMC, and they are bound by the
      NIH policy to deposit in PMC (or have their journal do so
      for them)."

Correct, but isn't this reasoning a bit circular, if not fatalistic?
Which one is cluttering the path to universal OA (now that we have
the very welcome NIH mandate)? APA, which blesses OA self-archiving
in the author's own OA IR, for free, or NIH, which (unnecessarily)
insists on mandating more than just OA?

Would it not be better for NIH to think it through, and then --
patiently, in the interests of a swift, seamless, systematic, global
progression to universal OA -- make in its otherwise invaluable,
historic, and much-imitated mandate the one tiny change that (with no
loss at all in content or functionality) will create the optimal
conditions for a full-scale transition to universal OA, rather than
only part of it?

Let NIH mandate IR deposit and harvest from there.
      Peter Suber: "Stevan hopes that policies like the APA's
      will pressure the NIH to drop this requirement and allow
      deposits in an IR to suffice. But even if that ought to
      happen, it won't happen soon and very likely won't happen
      at all. One reason is simply that the requirement to
      deposit in PMC was mandated by Congress. The NIH
      undoubtedly supports the Congressional directive, but
      it's not an in-house policy decision that the agency is
      free to reverse at will."

Deposits in IRs can be harvested into PMC. The issue here is merely
the locus of the point of direct deposit. 

Does anyone imagine that the spirit of the Congressional directive --
that publicly funded research should be made publicly accessible
online, free for all -- would notbe fully met once everyone, webwide,
can click on the link to an item whose metadata they have retrieved
from PMC, and the article instantly appears, just as if they had
retrieved it via Google, but the item's URL happens to be in an IR
rather than in PMC! 

Or are OA self-archiving issues being (as so often happens, to
inevitable OA's cost) conflated with preservation archiving issues
here? If so, preservation of what: "final, peer-reviewed

(One discerns the dead hand of digital preservationists here, pushing
their agenda, oblivious to the fact that the content they seek to
preserve is mostly not even OA yet, and that the version that NIH has
(rightly) stipulated for OA deposit (each "investigator's...
electronic version of their final, peer-reviewed manuscripts upon
acceptance for publication") is not even the draft that is in the
real need of preservation, but just a supplementary copy, for access
purposes -- the definitive version, the one that really stand in the
need of preservation, being the original: the publisher's proprietary
version. But is the NIH mandate an access mandate or is it
a preservation mandate? For preservation, you need to deposit in an
archival depository, not an OA collection like PMC, and you need only
deposit one or a few copies of the original, and APA would certainly
have no problem with that...)
      Peter Suber: "But should Congress and the NIH prefer PMCs
      to IRs? Maybe, maybe not. I see good arguments on both

For OA functionality, the locus of deposit makes zero difference. For
preservation, OA is beside the point and unnecessary. But for OA
content-provision itself -- and not just for NIH-funded content, but
for all of OA's target content, across all disciplines, institutions
and nations -- locus of deposit matters enormously. There's no
functionality without content. And I know of no good argument in
favor of institution-external direct deposit, insofar as
content-provision is concerned; only a lot of good arguments against
      Peter Suber: "But they are irrelevant here because (1)
      the APA deposit fee would still [be] unnecessary"

Why is it just APA's absurd $2500 fee for PMC deposit that is singled
out as being unnecessary (given that the APA is Green on free OA IR
deposit): Is NIH's gratuitous stipulation of PMC deposit not likewise
unnecessary (for OA)?

(This question is all the more germane given that the global
transition to universal OA stands to benefit a lot more from NIH's
dropping its gratuitous locus stipulation than from APA's dropping
its absurd PMC deposit fee.)
      Peter Suber: "(2) there's no evidence that the APA was
      motivated, as Stevan is, to protest the preference for
      PMC --as opposed to (say) mandatory OA."

But I never said the APA was motivated to protest the preference for
PMC! That really would be absurd. I am certain that APA (and every
other non-OA publisher) is none too thrilled about either author
self-archiving or mandatory OA, in any form! 

But APA nevertheless did the right thing, and bit the bullet on
formally endorsing institutional self-archiving. There's no (OA)
reason they should have to bite it on institution-external, 3rd-party
archiving in PMC too (even though the distinction will eventually be
mooted by universal OA) -- though the response of the OA community,
if directed, myopically, at APA alone, and not NIH, will no doubt see
to it that they will.

Frankly, I think APA just saw an opportunity to try to make a buck,
and maybe also to put the brakes on an overall process that they saw
as threatening to their current revenue streams. Can't blame them for
thinking that; it may turn out to be true. But as long as they're
Green, they're "gold," as far as OA is concerned (though, to avoid
conflicting terminology, let us just say they are "on the side of the
      Peter Suber: "(For the record, my position is close to
      Stevan's: institutional and disciplinary repositories
      should harvest from one another; that would greatly lower
      the stakes in the question where an OA mandate should
      require initial deposit; if we got that far, I'd be happy
      to see a policy require deposit in IRs.)"

I'm afraid I can't quite follow Peter's reasoning here: 

The issue is whether deposit mandates should be convergent --
requiring all authors to deposit in their own IRs -- or divergent,
requiring authors to deposit all over the map, possibly multiply,
depending on field and funding, possibly necessitating
"reverse-harvesting," with each institution's software trawling the
web, looking to retrieve its own institutional output, alas deposited

(That last is not "harvesting," and it involves a misunderstanding of
the very concept of harvesting: The OAI concept is that there
are content-providers and service-providers. Content-providers are
local and distributed, each providing content at its own local level
-- in this case, institutional IRs. Then there are service-providers,
who harvest that content [or just the content's metadata and URL]
from the distributed, interoperable content-providers, and provide
services on it, such as indexing, search, and other added
values. This is not a symmetric process. It does not make sense to
think of the content-providers as "harvesting" their own content
(back) from the service-providers! Another way to put this is that --
although it was not evident at the time -- OAI-interoperability
really meant the end of the need for central repositories for direct
deposit. Now there would just be central collections (services),
harvested from distributed local content-providers. No need to
deposit distally. And certainly no sense in depositing distally only
to "harvest" it back home again! Institutional content-provision
begins and ends with the institution's own IR; the rest is just
harvesting and service-provision.)
      Peter Suber: "Stevan does call the deposit fee absurd. So
      we agree on that as well. But he adds that the NIH
      preference for PMC over IRs "reduced us to this
      absurdity". I'm afraid that's absurd too. If the NIH
      preference for PMC somehow compelled publishers to
      respond with deposit fees, then we'd see many of them.
      But in fact we see almost none."

(1) Of course APA's $2500 deposit fee is absurd. But -- given that
APA is Green, and given the many reasons why convergent IR deposit,
mandated by institutions as well as funders, not only makes more
sense but is far more likely to scale up, coherently and
systematically, to universal OA across disciplines, institutions and
nations than divergent willy-nilly deposit of institutional content
here, there and everywhere -- I welcome this absurd outcome (the
$2500 PMC deposit fee) and hope the reductio ad absurdum helps
pinpoint the real source of the absurdity, which is not APA's wistful
surcharge, but NIH's needless insistence on direct deposit
institution-externally in PMC.

(2) I have no idea whether the OA community's hew and cry about the
$2500 APA surcharge for PMC deposit will be targeted exclusively at
APA (and any other publishers that get the same bright idea), forcing
them to withdraw it, while leaving the dysfunctional NIH constraint
on locus of deposit in place. 

(3) I hope, instead, that the OA community will have the insight to
target NIH's constraint on deposit locus as well, so as to persuade
NIH to optimize its policy in the interests of its broader
implications for the prospects of global OA -- one small step for NIH
but a giant leap for mankind -- by fixing the one small bug in an
otherwise brilliant policy.
      Peter Suber: "Even if the NIH preference for PMC were a
      choice the agency could reverse at will, the APA deposit
      fee is another choice, not necessitated by the NIH policy
      and not justified by it."

Where there's a will, there's a way, and here it's an extremely
simple way: Instead of depositing directly in PMC, authors deposit in
their IRs and send PMC the URL.

If the furor evoked by the APA $2500 surcharge proved to be the
factor that managed to inspire NIH to take the rational step that
rational argument alone has so far been powerless to inspire, then
that will be a second (unintentional) green feather in APA's cap, and
another of the ironies and absurdities of our long, meandering trek
toward the optimal and inevitable outcome for scientific and
scholarly research.
      A Simple Way to Optimize the NIH Public Access
      Policy (Oct 2004)

      Central versus institutional self-archiving (Sep 2006)

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

      One Small Step for NIH, One Giant Leap for Mankind

      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 Sat Jul 19 2008 - 02:38:48 BST

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