Re: BioMed Central Press Release

From: Matthew Cockerill <matt_at_BIOMEDCENTRAL.COM>
Date: Wed, 24 Jun 2009 19:36:54 +0100

You suggest that the announcement text:
"The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) now requires
authors to publish research results into open access journals and
also encourages dual submission into an institutional
repository." represents, in your words  "self-serving spin by a
commercial journal publisher".
It is perhaps helpful to clarify that this specific wording was
drafted not by BioMed Central but by Wilfrid
Laurier University themselves, to describe their reasons for setting
up an institutional repository. There may be room to improve the
wording to better capture the nuances of the CIHR's
two-pronged mandate - but it is hard to see how this announcement can
be portrayed as devious commercial spin!
More generally:
As far as I can tell, Wilfrid Laurier, the CIHR, the NIH, Wellcome,
RCUK, JISC,  BioMed Central and pretty much all other organizations
seeking to encourage openness in scholarly communication see open
digital repositories and open access journals as complementary
partners, not the antagonistic opponents which they appear to be from
your perspective.
BioMed Central is engaged in multiple collaborations with the
academic community to develop efficient and manageable ways to
automatically populate instutional repositories with authoritative
final versions of articles immediately upon publication, and this
seems to us (and to our institutional partners) to offer an extremely
productive way forwards. 
By developing 'Gold' open access journals alongside institutional
repositories, a smooth path to a fully open access future for
scholarly research communication is created.  
In contrast, your suggestion:
"Green OA will no longer be in competition with Gold OA once Green OA
mandates have prevailed globally, and if and when the resulting
universal Green OA eventually induces a universal transition to Gold
OA by making subscriptions unsustainable."
implies that you hope (optimistically) that Gold OA journals would
appear instantaneously out of nowhere, as soon as the level uptake of
Green OA reaches a level at which it causes a dramatic collapse of
Surely the progressive, side-by-side development of Green OA
repositories, and the Gold OA journals needed (by your own
acknowledgement) to make a fully open model of
peer-reviewed scholarly communication long-term sustainable in the
absence of subscriptions, is preferable for all concerned to the
dramatic crisis-driven transition which you envision?
Best regards,
Matthew Cockerill, Ph.D.
Managing Director
BioMed Central ( )
6th Floor, 236 Grays Inn Road
WC1X 8HL  

From: American Scientist Open Access Forum
On Behalf Of Stevan Harnad
Sent: 24 June 2009 12:17
Subject: BioMed Central Press Release

             ** Apologies for Cross-Posting **
On 24-Jun-09, at 5:01 AM, Charlotte Webber (BioMed Central) wrote in
the press release appended in full after this posting):

      The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) now
      requires authors to publish research results into open
      access journals and also encourages dual submission into
      an institutional repository. 

I invite readers to review the CIHR policy below and judge whether
the above is an accurate description of the policy or self-serving
spin by a commercial journal publisher (and IR service-provider)
promoting its product:

CIHR Policy on Access to Research Outputs:
      -- Grant recipients are now required to make every effort
      to ensure that their peer-reviewed publications are
      freely accessible through the Publisher's website (Option
      #1) or an online repository as soon as possible and in
      any event within six months of publication (Option #2).

      -- Under the second option, grant recipients must archive
      the final peer-reviewed full-text manuscripts immediately
      upon publication in a digital archive, such as PubMed
      Central or the grantees institutional repository. 

      -- Publications must be freely accessible within six
      months of publication, where allowable and in accordance
      with publisher policies...

      -- Grant recipients may also wish to submit their
      manuscripts to a journal that provides immediate open
      access to published articles (if a suitable journal
      exists). CIHR considers the cost of publishing in open
      access journals to be an eligible expense under the Use
      of Grant Funds.

Yes, the difference between the reality and the spin makes a
difference: a considerable difference. The underlying issue is always
the same: Should priority be given to requiring Green OA
self-archiving of all journal articles to make them OA, or to
publishing articles in Gold OA journals to make them OA?

No institution or funder on the planet "requires authors to publish
research results into open access journals"! 

This is wishful thinking on the part of the publishers of open access
journals. And when put in the way it is put in this BMC Press
Release, it generates confusion at a time when OA mandates are still
few and what is needed is clarity, not self-serving spin by
commercial publishers promoting their Gold OA journals.

Of lesser consequence, but worthy of note, are two further points
related to the BMC press release:

(1)  "[T]he University's Supporter Membership with BioMed Central" is
an incoherent (and self-serving) subscription-like notion that (if
anyone gives it just a moment's careful thought) cannot scale to the
day when many, most or all journals and publishers are Gold OA
(10,000 universities "joining" the publishers of 25,000 journals with
individual annual memberships). "Membership" only gives the illusion
of making any sense at all today, when a few Gold-OA journal-fleet
publishers like BMC (now part of Springer) are promoting it to
short-sighted and serials-stressed librarians:

(2) Re: "BioMed Central's "Open Repository" system... using BioMed
Central's extensive open access knowledge and technology
experience":  I am of course all for promoting Institutional
Repositories (IRs); but one cannot but feel a touch sceptical about
the notion of a commercial Gold OA publisher "promoting" IRs when IRs
are -- and let us state this quite openly -- fundamentally in
conflict with their primary commercial mission, which is to promote
their Gold OA product. Green OA simply means author self-archiving of
articles published in any journal at all -- and most journals are
non-OA journals, let alone BMC journals. Hence it is inescapable that
Green OA self-archiving is in competition with Gold OA publishing at
this time. 

(Green OA will no longer be in competition with Gold OA once Green OA
mandates have prevailed globally, and if and when the resulting
universal Green OA eventually induces a universal transition to Gold
OA by making subscriptions unsustainable. But today, for Gold OA
publishers, promoting Green OA means promoting a rival means of
providing OA itself, and, especially for commercial Gold OA
publishers, that would be a bad business strategy. "Don't buy my
product, because you can get it elsewhere for free." Hence the spin
you see above.)

Full Disclosure: I promote and very strongly endorse University of
Southampton's "rival" IR system (Eprints); but Eprints is
noncommercial, free, and has, and always has had, only one agenda,
which is to promote universal Green OA, as quickly and as effectively
as possible. "Eprints Services," fee-based, is only offered,
reluctantly, as an option for those institutions who insist that they
do not wish to set up Eprints on their own, for free; and Eprints
Services revenues are used solely to sustain and promote the use of
the free software, and Green OA
itself: Moreover, I would welcome
BMC's Open Repository Service as an ally, not a rival, if BMC ORS,
too, could dedicateitself to the straightforward promotion of universal Green OA, without the o
bvious strains of conflict-of-interest evident in this press release.

Stevan Harnad

      News release from BioMed Central
24 June 2009
"Canadian Excellence" strengthened by extensive adoption of
open access

* Wilfrid Laurier University adopts Open Repository and BioMed
Central Membership
* Open access movement gains ground in North America
BioMed Central and Wilfrid Laurier University today announce
the launch of Laurier IR, an institutional repository that
provides a visible point of open access archiving of
intellectual output for all members of the University
Built on BioMed Central's "Open Repository" system and using
BioMed Central's extensive open access knowledge and technology
experience, Laurier IR is a personalized in-house repository
that will significantly increase access to the university's
scholarly information and also highlight the talent of the
Universities researchers and students.
Laurier University is just one many organizations globally that
have adopted Open Repository since its inception. Open
Repository is built upon DSpace, an open-source solution for
accessing, managing and preserving scholarly material. 

      In addition, the University's Supporter Membership with
      BioMed Central reduces the barriers for Laurier
      researchers publishing in BioMed Central's open-access
      journals by providing researchers with a 15 percent
      discount on the article processing charges.
The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) now requires
authors to publish research results into open access journals
and also encourages dual submission into an institutional
repository. Complying with this mandate and also heeding wider
position statements from bodies such as the Canadian Library
Association (CLA) necessitated Wilfrid Laurier University to
establish Laurier IR.
Laurier IR embraces the 'open access' movement by allowing
authors to submit their original research directly to the
repository.  Electronic documents, including articles,
pre-prints, monographs, reports, movies and databases can all
be archived in the repository.
The service ensures that Laurier's scholarly communication
output is consolidated, thus enabling researchers to broaden
their knowledge base through greater collaboration and also
providing a central point to store teaching support materials
across the Laurier community.
Laurier University aims to build a full community structure for
their repository within the next 12 months which will include
customized designs and collections for particular groups of
researchers. They also hope to implement a 'content recruitment
strategy' to ensure that as much scholarly output from the
university as possible is held with the repository.
Speaking of the continued development of Laurier IR said
"Laurier is excited to be developing an institutional
repository" said Dr. Deborah MacLatchy, Vice-President:
Academic and Provost at Laurier. "It will be an excellent way
for other scholars, as well as students and professionals, to
access scholarly and creative works and theses published by
Laurier faculty and students. It increases Laurier's presence
internationally and extends our scholarly output to a much
wider audience, such as researchers in the developing world."

Media Contact
Matt McKay
Head of PR
BioMed Central
Tel:  +44 (0) 203 1922 2216
Mob: +44 (0) 7825 257 423

Notes to Editors:
1. BioMed Central ( is an STM (Science,
Technology and Medicine) publisher which has pioneered the open
access publishing model. All peer-reviewed research articles
published by BioMed Central are made immediately and freely
accessible online, and are licensed to allow redistribution and
reuse. BioMed Central is part of Springer Science+Business
Media, a leading global publisher in the STM sector.
2. For more information on the Laurier Open Research Archive,
contact project manager Debbie Chaves at
3. Open Repository ( is a
service from BioMed Central to build, launch, host and maintain
institutional repositories for organisations. Built upon the
latest DSpace repository software the service has been designed
to be flexible and cost-effective. BioMed Central's economy of
scale makes it possible for organisations that could not
otherwise afford to, or lack the infrastructure or technical
capacity in-house to run their own repositories.
Received on Wed Jun 24 2009 - 21:52:50 BST

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