Re: Five Universities Sign Open Access Funding Compact

From: Elizabeth E. Kirk <>
Date: Sun, 27 Sep 2009 20:07:31 EDT

I've been away and following the comments in regard to the
compact, but haven't added anything to it as I had only my
Blackberry at hand. Being over 30, my thumbs do not have lives of
their own, opposable as they may be. Now that everyone else has
moved along, I'd like to respond to Sandy and Stevan.

Sandy, thank you. We are trying to put our money where our mouth
is. As for monographs, Dartmouth is collaborating with UPNE to
jointly publish a new monograph open access online and print on
demand in paper. Mike Burton, the UPNE director, is an
enthusiastic partner. We don't know how often we will be able to
do this, as the price is higher than author fees for single
articles, but we certainly don't see this as a one-off.
Announcement about and release of this new book will be made next

Sevan, it is, as you say, about content. But it's not only about
the content of Dartmouth's research output, or that of our peers.
It's also about the value of the content provided through
publishers, and the willingness of readers and institutions to
look for that value. We both agree that the peer review process
is a critical step in creating the finished work of scholarship,
as well as "certifying" the work. Currently, open access
journals--as you rightly put it--are a very small subset of the
publishing pie. Without a predictable financial stream, there are
few avenues of growing an OA sector that can furnish peer review,
copy editing, DOIs, and all of the other parts of publishing that
have costs involved. Trying to grow that kind of OA sector by
supporting those costs, and overcoming the misconception that OA
means "not peer reviewed" (which many people said about 10-15
years ago about **all** electronic journals, if you remember) is
a honking good reason to join the compact. That kind of OA
sector, which of course can only be built when more institutions
join us, is one that may create actual competition in journal
publishing over time, by which I mean competition that results in
lower prices, more players, and multiple models. It could
include, as well, any current publisher who might wish to move to
producer-pays from reader-pays.

We care very much about the stability of and access to our
research. We are working on that from a number of fronts and in
multiple conversations. The compact is not our answer to
everything. But we certainly won't step back from an opportunity
to help create a more vibrant publishing landscape.


Elizabeth E. Kirk
Associate Librarian for Information Resources
Dartmouth College
Hanover, NH, USA 03753

----- Original Message -----
From: "Stevan Harnad" <>
To: <>
Sent: Monday, September 21, 2009 10:16 PM
Subject: Re: Five Universities Sign Open Access Funding Compact

> On 19-Sep-09, at 10:17 PM, Sandy Thatcher wrote (in liblicense):
>> I applaud these five universities for putting their money
>> where their mouth is. This will help obviate one of the perils
>> of the Green OA system that Stevan Harnad advocates, viz., the
>> proliferation of different versions of articles as publishers
>> allow peer-reviewed but unedited articles to be posted while
>> reserving the right to distribute the final versions
>> themselves exclusively.
> Two of the five universities (Harvard and MIT) who have signed
> COPE are to be applauded -- for putting their total refereed
> research output where their mouth is by mandating that it must
> all be made OA (through Green OA self-archiving) today.
> Sandy Thatcher can rest assured that the many access-denied
> would-be users worldwide who would otherwise not have had
> access to a particular item of that refereed research, because
> their institutions could not afford subscription access to that
> item, do not feel imperiled but "empowered" by the fact that
> they now have access to its self-archived final refereed draft
> (though not the publisher's PDF) rather than no access at all.
> Research progress -- and OA -- are about content, not form.
> Nor do those access-denied would-be users care one bit about
> "version proliferation." What they care about is access
> proliferation, so they can get on with their research using all
> the relevant refereed research there is rather than just the
> fraction of it that their institutions can afford to subscribe
> to today.
> But there is nothing whatsoever to applaud in the case of the
> three out of five universities (Cornell, Dartmouth and
> Berkeley) who have signed COPE but failed to put their total
> research output where either their mouth or their money is --
> committing to use whatever spare cash they have available today
> to pay "equitable" Gold OA publishing fees for the small
> fraction of their total research output for which Gold OA is
> available and affordable today, while failing to mandate Green
> OA self-archiving for all the rest.
> Nor is this bad example to other universities -- of
> unnecessarily committing scarce cash to pay for Gold OA for a
> token subset of their research output without the necessary,
> urgent and overdue provision of Green OA to all the rest -- to
> be applauded or welcomed, for if followed, it will just serve
> to keep delaying OA still longer, instead of reaching for what
> is already within the university community's grasp today.
> The reason universities are cash-strapped and can only afford
> to buy Gold OA for a tiny fraction of their total refereed
> research output is that their cash is currently committed to
> journal subscriptions that are providing whatever access they
> can afford for their own users today.
> Committing to spend still more cash for Gold OA, over and above
> what they are already spending on subscriptions, amounts to a
> symbolic, token pittance; it provides OA for a fraction of
> their total research output at a high extra cost,
> unnecessarily, while leaving users access-denied for all the
> rest, instead of mandating Green OA self-archiving for all of
> their research output, at no extra cost.
> Nor can the cash that universities are committing to pay for
> subscriptions today be liberated, through individual
> cancellations, to pay instead for Gold OA -- as long as the
> necessary content that ongoing subscriptions are buying in for
> the university's own users is not otherwise accessible to them.
> What the reader who is thinking realistically rather than
> applauding COPE unreflectively will realize at once is that the
> only realistic way that the world's 10,000 individual
> universities can liberate their current subscription funds to
> pay for a transition to universal Gold OA is if universal OA is
> first provided to the total research output of all
> universities. The means of providing this universal OA today is
> through the universal adoption of Green OA self-archiving
> mandates by most or all universities, not by the committing of
> scarce surplus cash to pay pre-emptively for Gold OA for some
> small fraction of total research output.
> And charity begins at home, with cost-free mandates to provide
> Green OA to each university's own total refereed research
> output, not with expensive, unnecessary and ineffectual
> gestures like COPE, which merely serve to mask and paper over
> the already long overdue need to mandate Green OA.
> See:
> "Please Commit To Providing Green OA Before Committing To Pay
> For Gold OA"
> "Fund Gold OA Only AFTER Mandating Green OA, Not INSTEAD"
>> But by all rights OA should apply to monographs, too. It makes
>> no intellectual sense to isolate book-length works in print
>> form in a few hundred libraries while making journal
>> literature on the same subjects accessible worldwide for free.
>> So, when will these universities, and others, step up to the
>> plate and pay author fees for monographs, too?
> Maybe if (1) the worldwide university community has the sense
> to do what is the very first urgent priority -- to mandate
> Green OA self-archiving for the refereed final drafts of all
> their research article output - today -- then the resultant
> universal Green OA will eventually induce (2) the subscription
> cancellations, downsizing and transition to universal Gold OA
> publication for refereed research journal articles at
> "equitable" prices, paid for out of the windfall savings from
> the subscription cancellations.
> Then this might in turn (3) leave some left-over windfall
> savings to pay for Gold OA for monographs too.
> But this certainly won't be possible as long as universities
> lack even the cash to buy in print monographs for their
> libraries, because the potential funds to pay for them are
> still tied up in paying for their journal subscriptions...
> Having said all this so many times before, all I can offer is
> cliches: Charity begins at home. First things first. Don't put
> the cart before the horse. Keep your eye on the ball. Don't
> build (golden) castles in Spain...
> Your weary archivangelist,
> Stevan Harnad
>> Sandy Thatcher
>> Penn State Press
>>> " . . .five schools at the forefront of the open access debate --
>>> Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, MIT,
>>> and UC Berkeley -- have announced their joint support for 'A
>>> Compact on Open-Access Publishing.' The release accompanying the
>>> Compact touts the economic advantages of a robust author-pays
>>> option for scholarly publishing, and urges the academic community
>>> to step up university-wide efforts to make the author-pays model
>>> more viable."
>>> Bernie Sloan
Received on Mon Sep 28 2009 - 02:03:22 BST

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