The Accelerating Worldwide Adoption Rate for Green Open Access Self-Archiving Mandates

From: Stevan Harnad <amsciforum_at_GMAIL.COM>
Date: Sat, 23 May 2009 15:24:44 -0400

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In response to Alma Swan's graphic demonstration (posted yesterday
and partly reproduced below) of the accelerating growth rate of Green
Open Access Self-Archiving Mandates (now
including NIH, Harvard, Stanfordand MIT), Richard Poynder has posted
some some very useful comments and questions. Below are some comments
by way of reply:

      FIGURE: Accelerating Growth Rate in Worldwide Adoptions
      of Green Open Access Self-Archiving Mandates (2002-2009,
      in half-year increments) by Research Funders,
      Institutions, and Departments/Faculties/Schools (Swan


(1) The latest and fastest-growing kinds of Green Open Access
Self-Archiving Mandates are not only self-chosen by the researchers
themselves, but they are department/faculty/school mandates, rather
than full university-wide mandates. These are the "patchwork
mandates" that Arthur Sale already began recommending presciently
back in 2007, in preference to waiting passively for university-wide
consensus to be reached.

(The option of opting out is only useful if it applies, not to the
the deposit itself [of the refereed final draft, which should
be deposited, without opt-out, immediately upon acceptance for
publication], but to whether access to the deposit is immediately set
as Open Access.)

(2) Another recent progress report for Institutional Repositories,
following Stirling's, is Aberystwyth's, which reached 2000 deposits
in May.

(3) Richard asks: "Will the fact that many of the new mandates
include opt-outs affect compliance rates? (Will that make them appear
more voluntary than mandatory?)"

[comply1.jpg] According to Alma Swan's international surveys, most
authors report they would comply willingly with a self-archiving
mandate. The problem is less with achieving compliance on adopted
mandates than with achieving consensus on the adoption of the mandate
in the first place. (Hence, again, Arthur Sale's sage advice to adopt
"patchwork" department/faculty/school mandates, rather than waiting
passively for consensus on the adoption of full university-wide
mandates, is the right advice.) 

And the principal purpose of mandates themselves is
to reinforceresearchers' already-existing inclination to maximise
access and usage for their give-away articles, not
to force researchers to do something they don't already want to do. 

(Researchers need to be reassured that their departments or
institutions or funders are indeed fully behind self-archiving, and
indeed expect it of them; otherwise researchers remain in a state of
"Zeno's Paralysis" about self-archiving year upon year, because of
countless groundless worries, such as copyright, journal choice, and
even how much time self-archiving takes.)

(4) Richard also asks: "What is full compliance so far as a
self-archiving mandate is concerned?" 

Full compliance is of course 100% compliance, and the longer-standing
mandates are climbing toward that, but their biggest boost will come
not only from time, nor even from the increasingly palpable local
benefits of OA self-archiving (in terms of enhanced research impact),
but from the global growth of Green OA Self-Archiving Mandates that
Alma has just graphically demonstrated.

(5) "What other questions should we be asking?" 

We should be asking what university students and staff can do to
accelerate and facilitate the adoption of mandates at their
institution. (See "Waking OA?s ?Slumbering Giant?: The University's
Mandate To Mandate Open Access.")

And the right way to judge the success of a mandate is not just by
reporting the growth in an institution's yearly deposit rates, but by
plotting the growth in deposit rate as a percentage of the
institution's yearly output of research articles, for the articles
actually published in that same year.

Stevan Harnad
American Scientist Open Access Forum
Received on Sat May 23 2009 - 20:25:47 BST

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