Re: Mandates: Practical Questions

From: Arif Jinha <arif_at_STRATONGINA.NET>
Date: Wed, 1 Sep 2010 08:10:00 -0400

> What I disagree with Stevan on is the primacy of 'green' over 'gold'. He
> regards that more or less as a given, even an axiom; I don't.

The primacy of green over gold is not an axiom. It is based on reasons
and evidence
The overall portion of OA globally is 20.4%, 8.5% gold and 11.4% green for
2009 according to the recent study by Bjork et al.    So, the edge is slightly
to Green, but the score is pretty close at 11-8.  The more important score is
80-20 in favour of subscription access, which is just terrible from a sectoral
point of view.  At this point, freely available research is harder to get at
than TV, movies and music.  Since 2006, there has been an exponential rise in
mandates and no difference in the proportion of green to gold OA (it was 11-8
then too). 
So, this is very disappointing, we are still waiting for the increase in
mandates to show a strong increase in proportion of global 
So long as a good proportion of research is under lock and key, it is hard to
see any drop in the costs to libraries, since people need not 20% of the
articles in the journal, but all of them.  Going back to the 20th century,
hardly any of that literature is OA.  So as a proportion of the 50 million
articles that exist (Jinha, 2010 "Article 50 million"), still a very small
proportion are accessible free on the internet and since libraries need to give
their researchers all of it, publishers can charge them according to that
I don't see yet any drop in the subscription costs to libraries, which was sort
of the economic point of green OA.   Where I go to school, I already had access
to all the green OA articles because my university already subscribes to all the
journals that they are published in.  Green OA is a duplication of access. Where
OA counts the most is in the developing world, who have gone from nearly zero to
nearly 20% access to global research in 10 years and where it is the green and
gold routes combined that make a difference.   
The axiom is that there is an absolute advantage to accessing any article, and
an absolute disadvantage to not being able to access it, by whatever route that
takes place.

(1) Most authors (80%) are not providing OA of their own accord today
-- either Green or Gold OA.
Authors should archive, whether you have been mandated to or not.  The first
thing is to make it easy to do, like recycling. The second to 'mandate' it, like
recycling. But the best thing to do would be to teach it as part of the basics
of publishing articles. Grad students need to get this in their education. Then,
not only would it be habitual for the next generation, if profs and departments
are teaching it, they are more likely to be doing it. It should become part of
the culture.  The argument is, if you're an author, archive.

(2) Green OA costs the author nothing (and the institution next to
nothing per article)
The argument for the author is the same, archiving costs nothing.  Get off your
ass and do it.
(3) Gold OA (BMC, PLOS) costs extra money per article (from the
author, institution or funder)
Not necessarily.  You can publish a journal without charging authors or
readers.   The majority of gold OA journals don't charge authors. 
But wait a minute!  Subscriptions cost much more money, don't they? The whole
point of OA, I thought, was that subscription journals cost too much money to
readers (and since all authors are readers, authors), and institutions (and
university libraries are mostly funded by the government in the first place). 
And subscriptions to a world of journals where 11.9% of the work is greenOA
archived costs about the same as subscribing to a world where none of it is. 
Except you have to build repositories and pay people who sit on committees to
establish OA policies. So far, neither green or gold OA are saving libraries
much money.  They are not having much of an impact on the big universities in
the West whose researchers already had near comprehensive access to research. 
Sure, once in a while there is a complaint that this or that journal was
cancelled, but really, it has never been that big an issue.  As a global issue
though, it's HUGE. 
The argument to journals again is, don't charge readers, don't charge authors. 
The argument to authors/readers, is don't pay out-of-pocket to publish, and
don't pay out-of-pocket to access.  Do we need a union?

(4) Authors are even less likely to do what they are not already doing
of their own accord if it costs extra money
It oughn't cost the researcher their own money.  Either the Gold OA journal
doesn't charge or the money comes from the same source as it does for
subscriptions, whether by author funds, as part of research grant or when their
institution pays a subscription for their authors to publish rather than for the
readers to read.  Few would pay out of pocket for Gold OA, just as few would
shell out $40 to buy a single article from a publisher. 
The argument to authors/readers, is that you shouldn't have to pay out of pocket
for any of this, it's inefficient and inequitable and downright annoying.
(5) Most journals (90%) are not Gold OA.

The whole point to supporting gold OA is to change that. The argument to
institutions is to mandate.  The argument to publishers is that the best thing
to do is to publish wihout charges to readers or authors (I call it OA360). 
Gold OA is not a better or worse argument, just has a different audience.  It's
the best option for publishers because subscriptions are a losing battle, if not
now, then soon and especially if green OA is successful.  If you are a
university library, you're probably interested in supporting both as a long-term
plan.  So far, you're not seeing that much return, but you're doing your part
for the sake of the planet, and it's a good strategy for the future.
(6) Green OA can be mandated

Gold OA could be mandated by deregulating copyright.  The government could get
out of the business of enforcing copyright laws which force them to pay to get
back research they already funded, and whereby publishers can really only
enforce copyright by suing people who are reading research. Do we want to sue
people for illegally downloading research? Researchers are more polite about
copyright, unfortunately, than music downloaders, and reading research isn't
much fun, which explains why we don't have a big illegal research article
downloading problem.  But it occurs in the developing world, and it will only
grow so long as subscriptions are around. I don't think it's wrong to illegally
download research, especially if you're a doctor trying to save a life.

(7) Gold OA can only be subsidized
Subscriptions are a massive subsidy to a publishing industry that is out of date
much larger than the subsidy to gold OA. What's wrong with shifting the subsidy
to gold OA? Why not pay journals (or peer-review services) to publish OA for
everyone instead of paying them to publish to some.

(8) Most of the potential money to pay for Gold OA is currently tied
up in subscriptions
Exactly.  Green OA doesn't help with that at the moment, because in any
particular journal, there is no way of knowing which articles will have been
archived, so you still need to subscribe to the whole journal if you're a
library. If you're a library you can't anticipate which article your patron
needs.  The argument for libraries is to push for copyright deregulation,
allowing your patrons the freedom to copy any article of scholarship at will.
Then you can help your patrons get research from the global library, instead of
spending your time and money on stupid products that publishers sell you on top
of the content, that is supposed to help you find the content but doesn't work
very well because it's not comprehensive or even very good.

(9) Gold OA costs include much more than just peer review costs today
Yes, and because the 'market' for journal research is such a captive one,
journals waste everyone's money.  We don't even need journals anymore, what we
need is peer-review services. Call them journals if you want, waste paper
printing them if you want.  They are websites with html and pdf documents. The
only value in them beyond that is peer-review, and the content which are both
provided free of charge. Honestly.  The websites are not even very good, and
they seem to get worse the larger and more profitable the publisher is.

(10) Green OA provides the infrastructure (repositories,
access-provision, archiving) that allows publishing costs to be
reduced to just peer review costs
I agree.  But if you are a journal publisher, the best argument is still Gold
OA.  If we recall when all this began, there was a 'serials crisis'.  Libraries
cancelled subscriptions and everyone wanted to reduce the amount of money going
out to publishing and increase the amount of access.  If you want to reduce the
amount of overall cost of access, that is a reduction in the amount of revenues
that can be got by publishers.  That's a zero-sum game. If authors habitually
get your journals to do the work of peer-review and then make the articles
available for free anyway (minus some final copy-edit polish that no
one ultimately cares about), what is the point of subscriptions? 
There is a point at which success of green OA means the decline of subscription
publishing, otherwise green OA hasn't really achieved anything for library
budgets.  So, likely the deal between libraries and publishers (or peer-review
services) will switch to the BMC model, which charges institutions a fee, which
is fine because the authors don't pay. What if you are an author at an
institution that can't afford it, or a non-institutionalized author? What should
be mandated for the sake of equity and freedom of speech, is that peer-review is
blind to whether the author has any money.  If the article is accepted and there
are no funds accessible to the author, the journal should publish it anyway. 
Really, how hard is it to post an article to a website?
  For all these reasons, Green OA needs to come before Gold OA; and it
needs to be mandated, for free, before institutions and funders commit
their scarce funds to paying for Gold OA:
Funds are not scarce, it's a question of having a wasteful and inequitable
system. If we can afford this stupidity, how can we say funds are
scarce? uOttawa spends $7million dollars a year to access the pretty much the
exact same body of research (18,000 online titles) that uConcordia subscribes
to. Funds are scarce outside the large institutions of the West, where people
can't afford subscriptions or article fees to access research that is not OA.
So, if gold OA is supported, that's good.  If there is a green OA mandate,
that's good.  They are not mutually exclusive and the overall cost-benefit
analysis to institutions must take into account that neither gold nor green OA
has saved them much money, and both are long-term plans.  Would be wise then to
support both, since as Harnad says, we're going to need gold OA if green OA has
any success in the zero-sum game of subscription costs and library budgets. 

What is urgent for research and researchers today -- and immediately
attainable via Green OA self-archiving mandates -- is OA, not
publishing reform or re-use rights. (Moreover, mandating Green OA
today is the fastest and surest way to achieve OA today, but also to
achieve Gold OA and Re-Use Rights tomorrow.
What would be better is to affirm a universal right to access research, and have
the business model work on and around that basis.
It would save a lot of time if we made scholarly articles all an exception to
the copying part of copyright (everyone would be free to copy it).  Isn't all
use of scholarly articles always for personal study? 
I find it annoying that scholarly writing is so terribly dull, but it seems to
me that few people would read scholarship for amusement, people read it for
study, always. It's scholarship.  So the reform should be that peer-reviewed
scholarship is not alllowed to be restricted for commercial sale (for which the
authors receive no royalties and no benefit), and always allowed to be copied. 
Then use the money that is paid into subscriptions to compensate the losers in
this reform, allowing them to change the business model to Open Access 360. 

First things first. Grasp what is within your immediate reach (Green
OA). If you instead over-reach, you will miss what is already in your
grasp, and just keep delaying the optimal and inevitable even longer.
What is immediately within your grasp changes with regard to whether you are an
author, institution, government or publisher.  If you're a publisher, it's
immediately within your grasp to stop restricting content with digital locks in
order to charge for it and license it Creative Commons instead. 
If you are a team of terribly good lawyers, you could probably even achieve the
deregulation of copyright for scholarly works and put an end to both the
outdated system of subscriptions, and our current inefficient mixed system of
subscriptions, mandates and author funds. From a rational point of view, one
article is not more valuable than another, it depends who you are and what your
interest is.  One researcher is not deserving of more privileges than another.
The system ought to be completely seamless.  Without a legal reform, it will
take another hundred years to liberate the works of the Big Science period of
post-WWII and pre-OA which are typically copyright transferred.  With a change
in law, you'll get there quicker in the end.  Without a change in the law,
thought there is no difference in the value of an OA article and non-OA article,
the researcher without privileges and who cannot pay would have to break the law
to access the non-OA article.  What if it was a doctor trying to save a life?
Should they be allowed to access the article, or not?
As the author, you should archive it.
As the institution, you should mandate it.
As a library, you should ensure one way or another that your patron has access
to it, your patron is a doctor!
As the publisher, you should not restrict the content, lives are at stake.
As the lawmaker, you should have made it illegal to restrict access to the
article, or legal for the doctor to access it, whichever way you want to look at
As the doctor, you should access it regardless of copyright and save the life.
As the taxpayer, you should pay once for the research and be able to access the
As the patient, you should be in the hands of people who have seamless access to
all the research articles that concern you.
(it is not as if medicine is actually more important than other sorts of
research, it's just more dramatic and direct as an example.)
Arif Jinha

Stevan Harnad

> Andrew A. Adams wrote:
>> I'm not wishing to start or continue an argument with Jan, but to post
>> some
>> philosophical musings prompted by his comment that he dislikes "mandates".
>> I disagree that mandates are always wrong. The so-called "publish or
>> perish"
>> "mandate" has severe negative consequences for academic, that most here
>> will
>> know about (least publishable unit, skewing research progress,
>> particularly
>> in fields that require significant groundwork before a flurry of
>> publications
>> of results, etc etc etc.
>> However, the "mandates" placed by institutions on their staff and on staff
>> and institutions by funders are not always negative. It seems quite right
>> to
>> me that funders mandate that the work they fund has its results
>> disseminated
>> widely. This means that they require (or, mandate) that papers be produced
>> and, when published, be made available as widely as possible. Without
>> them,
>> some staff would indulge in potentially world-changing research which had
>> its
>> impact delayed or denied. Academic freedom, like many other freedoms, is
>> not
>> unbounded, and comes with responsibilities. One of those responsibilities
>> is
>> to disseminate the results of one's work widely, balancing the need/desire
>> to
>> do further work with the necessity of transmitting the results already
>> done.
>> --
>> Professor Andrew A Adams
>> Professor at Graduate School of Business Administration, and
>> Deputy Director of the Centre for Business Information Ethics
>> Meiji University, Tokyo, Japan
Received on Wed Sep 01 2010 - 19:59:53 BST

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