Re: Roundtable Press Release (Access to Research Results)

From: Marc Couture <jaamcouture_at_GMAIL.COM>
Date: Wed, 20 Jan 2010 13:26:36 -0500

Andy Powell wrote :

> Worth remembering that OA is about more than being "available for download", at
> least according to the BOAI:

Well, I think I should always (at least in this forum) make an
explicit distinction between “gratis” and “libre” OA. In my post I was
referring to the former.

> So, while an OA button (embedded into both the metadata page and the full-
> text for maximum exposure) might not help you, it might help raise awareness
> of OA more generally?
> [...] the development of clear CC logos and buttons was a big help in raising
> awareness of what CC were trying to do

Creative Commons has done - and is still doing - a great job
simplifying things in the matter of re-use permissions. And, I agree
with you that the use of a small number of well-designed icons
(corresponding to well-thought sets of permissions) was a successful
part of their strategy.

> [...] One of the issues with inventing a global OA button is that we'd have to
> agree what definition of OA it stood for ;-)

I think it would be much confusing if one were to introduce a “global
OA icon”. Either it would act as a new CC-like license, with a
slightly different set of permissions than an existing CC license (for
instance, if one chooses the Bethesda definition, which is not
completely identical to the CC-by license), or it would be redundant
(for instance, if one chooses the BOAI definition which, as far as I
can tell, includes the same re-use permissions than the CC-by-nd-nc

> there is the PLOS OA logo (see, which is presumably associated
> with the [Bethesda] definition above

I would rather say that the PLoS Open-access logo (an open padlock)
conveys the same meaning than the CC-by license logo; it is the latter
which is displayed throughout the site. As I mentioned above, the
CC-by permissions are almost, but not completely identical to those of
the Bethesda definition (the difference lies in limitations, in the
latter, in printed copy distribution).

> there is an implication here [in what Marc Couture wrote] that people's route to the
> full-text is always via the 'metadata page'. That might well be how we've chosen to
> design the system but it isn't necessarily safe to assume that is how it always works ?

That’s not what I meant. In my experience (I should have added “as a
very active information seeker”), the hyperlinks to repository-based
documents appearing in the results lists of search engines like Google
Scholar and OAIster (now available through WorldCat) give access
directly to the file (PDF, usually), bypassing the metadata page. And
I assume that is by far the most frequent way those documents are

On the other hand, hyperlinks to publisher-site-based documents (for
instance, in Google Scholar results) give generally access to the
metadata page, where you are in some way informed if you have free
(“gratis”) access to the article. The information may be clearly
displayed (for instance, they tell you that it will cost you $49.48
plus tax), but if it is not, you’ll know as soon as you click on the
hyperlink to the full-text.

My point was, and I fear I didn’t make it clear, that I don’t see
exactly what problem an OA logo or icon in the metadata page or in the
article would solve.

What is helpful though (it saves time) is the identification of
“gratis” OA versions by search engines, which the Google Scholar’s
undocumented and unnamed "OA (?)" function does to a certain degree.
It is true that a “gratis” OA icon, which could be readable by search
engines, would improve its efficiency, if its adoption was
generalized. But I don’t know how this goal could be achieved.

Marc Couture
Received on Wed Jan 20 2010 - 19:14:25 GMT

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