Re: Springer and Helmholtz Association sign agreement for open access membership

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Mon, 23 Aug 2010 09:12:21 -0400

I wonder if it is a good idea for Open Access forums to become the publicity
vehicles for commercial deals?
Stevan Harnad

Scaling to Global OA: Parallel Local Green/Gold Is OK, But Gold Alone First, No

Trying to morph incoming institutional non-OA journal-fleet subscriptions
into outgoing institutional Gold OA journal-fleet "memberships"
is incoherent and cannot scale across journals and institutions; alongside
an institutional Green OA mandate, however, it is innocuous: The Green
mandates will ensure the real, leveraged, scalable, unstoppable progress
toward global OA. Without an institutional Green OA mandate, pursuing
local Gold OA "memberships" is not only futile but a retardant on real
progress toward global OA, creating instead an illusory local sense of
progress that further distracts from and obscures what really needs to be
done locally to generate global OA.

The Immediate Practical Implication of the Houghton Report: Provide Green Open
Access Now
      ABSTRACT: Among the many important implications of Houghton et al’s
      (2009) timely and illuminating JISC analysis of the costs and
      benefits of providing free online access (“Open Access,” OA) to
      peer-reviewed scholarly and scientific journal articles one stands
      out as particularly compelling: It would yield a forty-fold
      benefit/cost ratio if the world’s peer-reviewed research were all
      self-archived by its authors so as to make it OA. There are many
      assumptions and estimates underlying Houghton et al’s modelling and
      analyses, but they are for the most part very reasonable and even
      conservative. This makes their strongest practical implication
      particularly striking: The 40-fold benefit/cost ratio of providing
      Green OA is an order of magnitude greater than all the other
      potential combinations of alternatives to the status quo analyzed
      and compared by Houghton et al. This outcome is all the more
      significant in light of the fact that self-archiving already rests
      entirely in the hands of the research community (researchers, their
      institutions and their funders), whereas OA publishing depends on
      the publishing industry. Perhaps most remarkable is the fact that
      this outcome emerged from studies that approached the problem
      primarily from the standpoint of the economics of publication rather
      than the economics of research.

OA McMemberships, Dismemberment and MC Escher

Gold OA institutional "membership" is incoherent and does not scale. It
only gives the illusion of making sense if you think of it locally, and
myopically. Annual institutional subscriptions to journals containing the
annual outgoing refereed research of all other institutions do not morph
into annual institutional memberships for publishing each institution's
own outgoing refereed research. There are 25,000 journals and 10,000
institutions! Is every single institution to commit and contract in
advance to pay for its authors' (potential) fraction of annual submissions
to every single journal? Is that a "membership" or a distributed
dismemberment? And is every journal to commit and contract in advance to
accept every institution's annual fraction of submissions? (Is that peer
review?) This is a global oligopolistic illusion that would fit publishers
just about as well as it would fit McDonalds, except there are at least
25,000 different journals to "join", and institutions each have thousands
of author-consumers with diverse dietary needs, varying day to day and
year to year.

Gold Conversion: A Prisoners' Dilemma?

Given the undeniable, irreversible and growing clamour for Open Access
(OA) worldwide, journal publishers face two Prisoners' Dilemmas.
(1) The first concerns whether to continue business as usual, to
mounting opprobrium from the academic community as well as the tax-paying
public, or to convert directly to Gold OA now, at the risk that
institutional subscriptions at current prices for incoming journals may
not transmute stably into institutional "memberships" for outgoing article
publication costs at the same institutional price. If publishers convert
from institutional subscriptions to institutional Gold OA "memberships"
today, they counter the opprobrium and lock in current subscription rates
for a year (or whatever duration-deal is agreed with institutions), but
they risk institutional memberships defecting after the duration elapses,
with cost-recovery fragmented to an anarchic individual author/article
level that may not be enough to make ends meet.
(2) The second Prisoners' Dilemma facing publishers is that if they
instead counter the opprobrium by converting to Green OA now (as 62% of
them already have done), Green OA Self-Archiving Mandates may still force
their conversion to Gold eventually, but because access-provision and
archiving (and their costs) will by then be performed by the distributed
network of mandated Green OA Institutional Repositories, the revenues (and
expenses) of journal publishing then may be reduced from what they are
now. (Perhaps this can all be integrated into just a single Prisoners'
Dilemma -- or perhaps it is not a Prisoners' Dilemma at all: just
the optimal and inevitable outcome of the powerful new potential unleashed
by the online medium for the communication of peer-reviewed scholarly and
scientific research.)

On Not Putting The Gold OA-Payment Cart Before The Green OA-Provision Horse
      SUMMARY: Universities need to commit to mandating Green OA
      self-archiving before committing to spend their scarce available
      funds to pay for Gold OA publishing. Most of the university's
      potential funds to pay Gold OA publishing fees are currently
      committed to paying their annual journal subscription fees, which
      are thereby covering the costs of publication already. Pre-emptively
      committing to pay Gold OA publication fees over and above paying
      subscription fees will only provide OA for a small fraction of a
      university's total research article output; Green OA mandates will
      provide OA for all of it. Journal subscriptions cannot be cancelled
      unless the journals' contents are otherwise accessible to a
      university's users. (In addition, the very same scarcity of funds
      that makes pre-emptive Gold OA payment for journal articles today
      premature and ineffectual also makes Gold OA payment
      for monographs unaffordable, because the university funds already
      committed to journal subscriptions today are making even the
      purchase of a single print copy of incoming monographs for the
      library prohibitive, let alone making Gold OA publication fees for
      outgoing monographs affordable.) Universal Green OA mandates will
      make the final peer-reviewed drafts of all journal articles freely
      accessible to all would-be users online, thereby not only providing
      universal OA, but opening the doors to an eventual transition to
      universal Gold OA if and when universities then go on to cancel
      subscriptions, releasing those committed funds to pay the publishing
      costs of Gold OA.

Springer's Already on the Side of the Angels: What's the Big Deal?
      SUMMARY: The Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU)
      has made a deal with Springer that articles by VSNU authors will be
      made OA. But Springer is already on the side of the angels on OA,
      being completely Green on immediate, unembargoed author OA
      self-archiving. Hence all VSNU authors are already free to deposit
      their refereed final drafts of their Springer articles in their
      institutional repositories, without requiring any further permission
      or payment. So what in addition is meant by the VSNU deal with
      Springer? that the Springer PDF rather than the author's final draft
      can be deposited? That Springer does the deposit on VSNU
      authors' behalf? Or is this a deal for prepaid hybrid Gold OA? In
      the case of Springer articles, it seems that what the Netherlands
      lacked was not the right to make them OA, but the mandate (from the
      VSNU universities and Netherlands' research funders like NWO) to
      make them OA. There are some signs, however, that this too might be
      on the way...

University of California: Throwing Money At Gold OA Without Mandating Green OA

On 2010-08-23, at 8:22 AM, Peter Suber wrote:

      [Forwarding from Renate Bayaz at Springer.  --Peter Suber.]


      Springer and Helmholtz Association sign agreement for open access


      Cooperation makes open access publishing easier for scientists

      Berlin / New York / London, 23 August 2010

      Following the launch of SpringerOpen (, the
      Helmholtz Association has signed a new agreement for an open access
      membership. This agreement covers article processing charges for
      authors from the participating Helmholtz research centres for
      articles published in SpringerOpen and BioMed Central journals.


SpringerOpen journals are peer-reviewed open access journals in emerging
and interdisciplinary fields that complement both the established Springer
journal portfolios and BioMed Central’s growing list of over 200 life
science and biomedicine journal titles. SpringerOpen journals are e-only
and publish articles under the Creative Commons Attribution license.
According to this license, Springer will not reserve any exclusive
commercial rights.


Both SpringerOpen as well as Biomed Central journals charge article
processing fees to the author which make the journals’ content immediately
and freely available. The membership offering, introduced by BioMed
Central, allows institutions to directly support the payment of these fees
and facilitate the uptake of open access across their authors. Currently,
authors from more than 340 institutions in 39 countries benefit from these
memberships taking on full or partial payment of article processing fees.


“We feel that the Springer open access journal portfolio is a good match
for the spectrum of the six main Helmholtz research areas (Energy, Earth
and Environment, Health, Key Technologies, Structure of Matter, and
Aeronautics, Space and Transport). We are pleased to enter into this
partnership opening new chances to develop an open access forum for
research results of our scientists. The agreement is part of our mission
to establish long-term mechanisms securing reasonable publication charges
for open access journals,” says Dr. Bernhard Mittermaier, Head of the
Central Library of Forschungszentrum Jülich.


“We are delighted to see that the Helmholtz Association expresses its
support for SpringerOpen. SpringerOpen expands the option to publish in
fully open access journals to all scientific areas and it is encouraging
to see the scientific community reacting so quickly,” says Bettina
Goerner, Manager Open Access at Springer.


The Helmholtz Association ( contributes to solving major
challenges facing society, science and industry with top scientific
achievements in six research areas: Energy, Earth and Environment, Health,
Key Technologies, Structure of Matter, and Aeronautics, Space and
Transport. With 30,000 employees in 16 research centres and an annual
budget of approximately 3 billion euros, the Helmholtz Association is
Germany’s largest scientific organisation. The Helmholtz Association was
one of the initial signatories of the Berlin Declaration on Open Access in


Springer Science+Business Media ( is a leading global
scientific publisher, delivering quality content through innovative
information products and services. The company is also a trusted provider
of local-language professional publications in Europe, especially in
Germany and the Netherlands. In the science, technology and medicine (STM)
sector, the group publishes around 2,000 journals and more than 6,500 new
books a year, as well as the largest STM eBook Collection worldwide.
Springer has operations in about 20 countries in Europe, the USA, and
Asia, and more than 5,000 employees.

BioMed Central ( has been part of Springer
Science+Business Media since 2008. Founded in 1999, the STM publisher 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 the largest open access publisher in the world.

Contact: Renate Bayaz, Tel +49-6221-487-8531,

Received on Mon Aug 23 2010 - 14:30:26 BST

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.0 : Fri Dec 10 2010 - 19:50:13 GMT