Fwd: Publishers with Paid Options for Open Access

From: Stevan Harnad <amsciforum_at_GMAIL.COM>
Date: Wed, 3 Sep 2008 11:15:47 -0400

On 3-Sep-08, at 8:57 AM, C.Oppenheim_at_lboro.ac.uk wrote:

> Stevan misunderstands the purpose of SHERPA/ROMEO.  It is there to
> publishers' terms and conditions, to help authors decide where to
place their
> articles.  To argue that it should not list those publishers that
are not "green"
> is akin to asking an abstracting service not to record those
articles that the
> editor happens not to agree with.
> Some funders, such as Wellcome,  encourage the applicant for
funding to
> include the cost of paying a "gold" journal in their funding bid.
If it is to perform
> a useful information function, SHERPA/ROMEO has to reflect current
> not ideal future scenarios.

I can only disagree (profoundly) with my comrade-at-arms, Charles
Oppenheim, on this important strategic point!

I certainly did not say that SHERPA/ROMEO should only list Green
Publishers! It should list all publishers (and, more relevantly, all
their individual journals).
But along with the journals, SHERPA/ROMEO should only list and
classify the journal policy details that are relevant to OA, OA
mandates, and the growth of OA.
Those four relevant journal policy details are these:

      (1) Does the journal endorse immediate OA self-archiving
      of the refereed postprint? If so, the journal is GREEN.

      (2) Does the journal endorse the immediate OA
      self-archiving of the unrefereed preprint only? If so,
      the journal is PALE-GREEN.

      (3) Is the journal neither GREEN nor PALE-GREEN? If so
      then the journal is GRAY.

      (4) If the journal is PALE-GREEN or GRAY, does it endorse
      OA self-archiving after an embargo? If so, how long?

That's it. All the rest of the details that SHERPA/ROMEO is currently
canonizing are irrelevant amplifications of noise that merely confuse
instead of informing, clarifying and facilitating OA-relevant policy
and decisions on the part of authors, institutions and funders.
Amongst the irrelevant and confusing details that SHERPA/ROMEO is
currently amplifying (and there are many!), there are two that might
be worth retaining as a footnote, as long as it is made clear that
they are not fundamental for policy or practice, but merely details
for two special cases:

      (i) What version is endorsed for OA self-archiving: the
      author's final draft or the publisher's PDF?

      (ii) Where does the journal endorse self-archiving: the
      author's institutional repository and/or central

The reason these details are inessential is that the default
option in both cases is already known a priori: 

(i) Self-archiving the author's final draft is the default option. A
publisher that endorses self-archiving the publisher's PDF also
authorizes, a fortiori, the self-archiving of the author's final
draft. (Pedants might have some fun thrashing this one back and
forth, citing all sorts of formalisms and legalisms, but in the end,
sense would prevail: Once the publisher has formally authorized
making the published article OA, matters of author prior versions or
author updates are all moot.)

The default option of self-archiving the postprint is sufficient for
OA, hence the PDF side-show is a needless distraction.

(ii)  Self-archiving in the author's institutional repository is
the default option. A publisher that endorses self-archiving in a
central repository also endorses, a fortiori, self-archiving in the
author's own institutional repository.

The default option of self-archiving in the institutional repository
is sufficient for OA, hence the matter of central deposit is a
needless distraction. (Where direct central deposit is mandated by a
funder, this can and will be implemented by automatic ARROW-based
export to central repositories, of either the metadata and full-text
or merely the metadata and the link to the full-text.)

Hence (i) and (ii) are minor details that need only be consulted by
those who, for some reason, are particularly concerned about the PDF,
or those who need to comply with a funder mandate that specifies
central deposit.

There is absolutely no call for SHERPA/ROMEO to advertise the price
lists of GRAY publishers for paid OA! I can only repeat that that is
grotesque. Let authors and funders who are foolish enough to squander
their money on paying those publishers (instead of just relying on
their tolerated embargo limits plus the Button) find out the prices
for themselves. 


Stevan Harnad

      From:  Stevan Harnad

      Sent: 03 September 2008 13:49


      Subject: Re: Publishers with Paid Options for Open Access

      On 3-Sep-08, at 6:57 AM, Jane H Smith, SHERPA, wrote:


      Where a publishers' standard policy does not allow an
      author to comply

      with their funding agency's mandate, paid open access
      options may enable

      an author to comply.

      On no account should any author comply with any
      mandate to provide Open Access (OA) by paying a
      (non-Green) publisher to do so. 

      That would be a grotesque distortion of the purpose of
      both OA and OA mandates.

      It would also profoundly discourage funders and
      institutions from mandating OA, and authors from
      complying with OA mandates.

      If a journal is not one of the 63% of journals that are
      already Green on immediate OA self-archiving 

      -- http://romeo.eprints.org/stats.php --

      then the right strategy for the author is to deposit the
      refereed final draft in their institutional repository
      anyway, immediately upon acceptance for publication. 

      Access to that deposit can then be set as Closed
      Access instead of Open Access during the publisher
      embargo, if the author wishes. The repository's
      semi-automatic "email eprint request" Button can then
      provide all would-be users with almost-OA during the


      Most OA mandates tolerate an embargo of 6-12 months. Once
      immediate deposit is universally mandated by 100% of
      funders and institutions, that will provide at least 63%
      immediate-OA plus at most 37% almost-OA, immediately, for
      a universal total of 100% immediate-OA plus almost-OA. 

      Not long after OA mandates are adopted universally, the
      increasingly palpable benefits of the resultant OA to
      research, researchers, and the tax-paying public will
      ensure that the rest of the dominos will inevitably fall
      quite naturally of their own accord, yielding 100%

      Both JISC and SHERPA have an outstanding record for
      supporting and promoting OA, worldwide. The OA movement
      and the global research community are greatly in their
      debt. However, JISC, and especially SHERPA, alas also
      have a history of amplifying arbitrary, irrelevant and
      even absurd details and noise associated with publisher
      policies and practices, instead of focusing on what makes
      sense and is essential to the understanding and progress
      of OA.

      I urge JISC and SHERPA to focus on what the research
      community needs to hear, understand and do in order to
      reach 100% OA as soon as possible -- not on advertising
      publisher options that are not only unnecessary but
      counterproductive to the growth of OA and OA mandates.

      Stevan Harnad

      American Scientist Open Access Forum

Received on Wed Sep 03 2008 - 16:17:07 BST

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