Re: Changes in publisher policies on repository deposit?

From: Stevan Harnad <amsciforum_at_GMAIL.COM>
Date: Tue, 2 Jun 2009 11:50:32 -0400

On Tue, Jun 2, 2009 at 10:36 AM, Sally Morris <sally> wrote:

      Let me be heretical here 

      In this interconnected environment, why does it matter
      where the freely accessible version is?

Glad you asked:

It would make no difference whatsoever if all the 2.5 million yearly
articles in all 25,000 peer-reviewed journals were freely accessible
online, immediately upon acceptance for publication, one way or the
(Google would quickly develop the optimal tool for targeted search
and access).

But the trouble is that 85% of those articles are not freely
accessible online, either in the author's institutional repository or
on the publisher's website.

And that's what Green OA self-archiving mandates by research
institutions and funders are about, and for.

Institutions and funders cannot mandate that publishers make their
articles OA on their website (or anywhere). But they can mandate that
their employees and fundees do so, on their own institutional
websites. And that is what they are doing, and why.

Moreover, institutions have other reasons for wanting to archive and
showcase their own institutional research output, in their own
institutional repositories.

So, yes, it makes no difference where the freely accessible articles
are located on the distributed web, insofar as search and retrieval
is concerned. But it makes every difference for getting them all to
be made freely accessible in the first place.

Stevan Harnad


      From: American Scientist Open Access Forum
      On Behalf Of Stevan Harnad

Sent: 02 June 2009 14:32
Subject: Re: Changes in publisher policies on repository


On 2-Jun-09, at 8:05 AM, Peter Suber wrote:

[Forwarding from Fred Friend via the JISC-Repositories list. 
--Peter Suber.]

To all repository managers:
Rumours are spreading that Elsevier staff are approaching UK
Vice-Chancellors persuading them to point to PDF copies of
articles on Elsevier's web-site rather than have the articles
deposited in institutional repositories. It appears that the
argument being used is that this will be a cheaper option than
maintaining full-text within repositories. If these reports are
true, my guess is that Elsevier are using these arguments to
undermine deposit mandates.


Here is my prediction:


      (1) Yes, Elsevier and other publishers would be
      happier if researchers did not deposit their final
      drafts in their institutional repositories, and if
      their institutions and funders did not mandate that
      they do so. Hence it is not at all surprising that
      they may be trying to persuade UK VCs to link to
      PDFs at Elsevier's website instead of having their
      researchers deposit their own final drafts in their
      own institutional repositories.

      (2) But UK VCs presumably still have some autonomy
      and judgement of their own. So whereas they will
      understand why it might be in publishers' interest
      if universities' research output were held at
      publishers' websites rather than in the
      university's own repository, they will also see
      quite clearly why this would not be in the interest
      of their universities, or their researchers, or
      research assessment, or research itself. 


      (3) So the attempt at persuasion will prove


So please let us not again stir up groundless and distracting
anxieties about this. Let publishers try to persuade whomever
they wish of whatever they wish. The interested parties will
make their own decisions, according to their own interests.


What UK VCs should be (and are) doing is persuading their own
researchers to provide Open Access to their own research
output, in their own repositories, by adopting university Open
Access self-archiving mandates, as 83 institutions and funders
worldwide have already done. UK has the world's highest
concentration of these mandates, and two more are about to be
announced (stay tuned).


Elsevier (and the majority of other publishers), despite their
efforts at VC persuasion, and despite the familiar doomsday
scenarios to the contrary, remain on the side of the
angels insofar as OA self-archiving is concerned, endorsing
authors depositing their final drafts in their institutional


Let us concentrate on accelerating OA mandate adoption and not
worry about how publishers might be trying to decelerate it:
The outcome is optimal (for research, researchers, their
institutions, and the tax-paying public that funds them) -- and


      If Vice-Chancellors are persuaded to adopt this
      policy, it would only give repository access to an
      unsatisfactory version (PDFs will not enable re-use
      for research purposes) and access on Elsevier's
      terms. If this is Elsevier's strategy it would seem
      to negate their "green" status. Previous
      correspondence on this list has indicated a harder
      line on repository deposit by Wiley-Blackwell, and
      if Elsevier are also hardening their policy,
      mandates for repository deposit could lose much of
      their potential effectiveness in increasing access
      to research content.


There is no hardening of policies, the PDF issue is a red
herring, and green continues to be green. 


      It would be wise for repository managers to brief
      their senior university management on this issue.
      The threat to repository deposit also adds to the
      need for authors to be briefed on the use of a
      licence to publish retaining certain rights rather
      than ceding all control over their work to the


There is no threat to repository deposit; a green light to
deposit a postprint is sufficient for green OA and green OA
mandates, irrespective of whether the postprint is the author's
final draft or the publisher's PDF. 


      Any publishers reading this message should
      understand that dialogue on the issues above will
      be welcome, in particular clarification of any
      change in publisher policies. 


What is needed is not (still more!) dialogue with publishers
but self-archiving of postprints by the researchers -- and
postprint self-archiving mandates by researchers' institutions
and funders.


Repository managers do far more for OA if they focus on helping
their institution to adopt self-archiving policies rather than
if they focus on how publisher may be trying to maximise their
interests by delaying or distracting from them.


Stevan Harnad


      Fred Friend (not writing on behalf of any
      organisation or institution)  
Received on Tue Jun 02 2009 - 16:52:49 BST

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