Berlin Stonewalling — or Flip-Flop

1. Richard Poynder‘s take on Berlin 12 is basically valid (even though perhaps a touch too conspiratorially minded).

2. The much-too-long series of Berlin X meetings, huffing on year after year, has long been much-ado-about-next-to-nothing.

3. The solemn 2003 “Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities,” with its unending list of signatories, was never anything more than a parroting of the 2003 “Bethesda Statement on Open Access Publishing [sic],” which was, in turn, a verbose reiteration of half of the 2002 Budapest Open Access Initiative — skewed toward only BOAI-II (“gold” open access publishing), virtually ignoring BOAI-I (“green” open access self-archiving).

4. For what it’s worth, I attended Berlin 1 in Berlin in 2003 (out of curiosity, and in the hope it would lead to something) and we hosted Berlin 3 in Southampton in 2005 (at which it was officially recommended to require BOAI-I, green OA self-archiving, and to encourage BOAI-II, gold OA publishing — exactly as had been recommended in 2004 by the UK House of Commons Select Committee on Science and Technology).

5. After Berlin 3 in 2005 the Berlin X series went on and on, year after year (I never attended again), but the progress on implementing the Southampton/Berlin-3 recommendations was transpiring (though still much too slowly) elsewhere (with the ROARMAP mandates being adopted in the UK, Australia, EU, and US, starting from 2003 and continuing today).

6. As far as I can tell, the Berlin X series just continues fussing about gold OA, and although I am less suspicious than Richard, I too suspect that the “secrecy” was because the institutional reps attending Berlin 12 are trying to forge a common front for working out a gold-OA “flip” deal with publishers.

And my prediction, for reasons I’ve repeated, unheeded, many, many times, is that any such flip will be a flop.

Why Scholars Scull

Disagreement is always good ? creative, even. I am not trying to change Richard Poynder‘s mind, just openly airing points and counterpoints, in the spirit of open peer commentary

1. I agree that the home pages of Institutional Repositories that simply tout their generic overall deposit counts are doing numerology.

2. “Dark deposit” is rather ominous-sounding. The reality is that there are:

(i) undeposited articles,
(ii) metadata-only deposits,
(iii) full-text non-OA article immediate-deposits (which are non-OA for varying intervals),
(iv) full-text OA delayed-deposits and
(v) full-text OA immediate-deposits.

And there’s the Button to supplement them. One can always describe cups as X% full or as (1-X)% empty.

3. No, to calculate yearly deposit ratios using WoS or SCOPUS in order to estimate total yearly deposit ratios is definitely not “deceptive”: it is valid for WoS-indexed or SCOPUS-indexed output (which also happens to be the output that the OA movement is mostly about, and for), but it might be an underestimate or overestimate for non-WoS/SCOPUS output, if for some reason their ratio differs. So what?

4. Numerology is meaningless numbers, counted for their own sake, and interpreted according to taste (which can be occult, ornate or obtuse). Calculating correlations between mandate conditions and deposit ratios and drawing predictive conclusions from correlations whose probability of having occurred by chance is less that 5% is conventional predictive statistics (which only turns into numerology if you do a fishing expedition with a very large number of tests and fail to adjust your significance level for the likelihood that 5% of the significant correlations will have occurred by chance). We did only a small number of tests and had predicted a-priori which ones were likely to be significant, and in what direction.

5. Yes, there are far too few mandates, just as there are far too few deposits. Nevertheless, there were enough to detect the statistically significant trends; and if they are put into practice, there will be more effective mandates and more deposits. (The HEFCE/Liege immediate-deposit condition for eligibility for research evaluation turned out to be one of the statistically significant conditions.)

6. I heartily agree that academics are excessively micromanaged and that evaluative metrics can and do become empty numerology as well. But I completely disagree that requiring scholars and scientists to do a few extra keystrokes per published article (5 articles per year? 5 minutes per article?) counts as excessive micro-management, any more than “publish or perish” itself does. Both are in fact close to the very core of a scholar’s mission and mandate (sic) qua scholar: To conduct research and report their findings — now updated to making it OA in the online era. Justifiable animus against excessive and intrusive micromanagement is no excuse for shooting oneself in the foot by resisting something that is simple, takes no time, and is highly beneficial to the entire scholarly community.

7. Cultures don’t change on a wish or a whim (or a “subversive proposal“!); they change when the pay-off contingencies (not necessarily financial!) change. That’s how publish-or-perish worked (publication- and citation-bean-counting for employment, promotion, tenure, funding) and the online era now requires a tiny, natural extension of publish-or-perish to publish-and-deposit for eligibility for bean-counting.

8. And if we remind ourselves, just for a moment, as to why it is that scholars scull in the first place — which is not for the sake of publication- and citation-bean-counting for employment, promotion, tenure, funding), is it not so that their findings can be accessed, used and built upon by all their would-be users?

Stevan Harnad

Cross Purposes

No, the purpose of ?repository-focused green open access? is not — and never has been — “to prompt libraries to cancel journal subscriptions, forcing publishers to restrict themselves to coordinating peer review at a vastly reduced price from that currently charged for journal-focused ?gold? open access” (though that is indeed what I think will be the eventual outcome).

The purpose of green open access, mandated by universities and funders, is (and always has been) open access.

Open access (Gratis) means immediate (un-embargoed), free online access to the final peer-reviewed drafts of peer-reviewed journal articles.

Berners-Lee, T., De Roure, D., Harnad, S. and Shadbolt, N. (2005) Journal publishing and author self-archiving: Peaceful Co-Existence and Fruitful Collaboration.

Harnad, S. (1995) A Subversive Proposal. In: Ann Okerson & James O’Donnell (Eds.) Scholarly Journals at the Crossroads; A Subversive Proposal for Electronic Publishing. Washington, DC., Association of Research Libraries, June 1995.

Houghton, J. & Swan, A. (2013) Planting the Green Seeds for a Golden Harvest: Comments and Clarifications on “Going for Gold”. D-Lib Magazine 19 (1/2).

Sale, A., Couture, M., Rodrigues, E., Carr, L. and Harnad, S. (2014) Open Access Mandates and the “Fair Dealing” Button. In: Dynamic Fair Dealing: Creating Canadian Culture Online (Rosemary J. Coombe & Darren Wershler, Eds.)

Vincent-Lamarre, P, Boivin, J, Gargouri, Y, Larivière, V and Harnad, S (2015) Estimating Open Access Mandate Effectiveness: I. The MELIBEA Score. JASIST (in press)

What OA Needs Is More Action, Not More Definition

For the record: I renounce (and have long renounced) the original 2002 BOAI (and BBB) definition of Open Access (OA) (even though I was one of the original co-drafters and co-signers of BOAI) in favour of its 2008 revision (sic) as Gratis OA (free online access) and Libre OA (free online access plus certain re-use rights, e.g., CC-BY).

The original BOAI definition was improvised. Over a decade of subsequent evidence, experience and reflection have now made it clear that the first approximation in 2002 was needlessly over-reaching and (insofar as Green OA self-archiving was concerned) incoherent (except if we were prepared to declare almost all Green OA ? which was and still is by far the largest and most reachable body of OA ? as not being OA!). The original BOAI/BBB definition has since also become an obstacle to the growth of (Green, Gratis) OA as well as a point of counterproductive schism and formalism in the OA movement that have not been to the benefit of OA (but to the benefit of the opponents of OA, or to the publishers that want to ensure — via Green OA embargoes — that the only path to OA should be one that preserves their current revenue streams: Fool’s Gold OA).

I would like to agree with Richard Poynder that OA needs some sort of “authoritative” organization — but of whom should that authoritative organization consist? My inclination is that it should be the providers and users of the OA research itself, namely peer-reviewed journal article authors, their institutions and their funders. Their ?definition? of OA would certainly be authoritative.

Let me close by emphasizing that I too see Libre OA as desirable and inevitable. But my belief (and it has plenty of supporting evidence) is that the only way to get to Libre OA is for all institutions and funders to mandate (and provide) Gratis Green OA first ? not to quibble or squabble or dawdle about the BOAI/BBB ?definition? of OA, or their favorite flavours of Libre OA licenses.

My only difference with Paul Royster is that the primary target for OA is peer-reviewed journal articles, and for that it is not just repositories that are needed, but Green OA mandates from authors? institutions and funders.

P.S. To forestall yet another round of definitional wrangling: Even an effective Gratis Green OA mandate requires some compromises, namely, if authors elect to comply with a publisher embargo on Green OA, they need merely deposit the final, refereed, revised draft in their institutional repository immediately upon acceptance for publication — and set the access as “restricted access” instead of OA during the (allowable) embargo. The repository’s automated email copy-request Button will allow any user to request and any author to provide a single copy for research purposes during the embargo with just one click each. (We call this compromise “Almost-OA.” It is a workaround for the 40% of journals that embargo Gratis Green OA; and this too is a necessary first step on the road to 100% immediate Green Gratis OA and onward. I hope no one will now call for a formal definition of “Almost-OA” before we can take action on mandating OA…)

High Time To Start Getting Serious About Open Access

Video interview of Stevan Harnad by Maciej Chojnowski (CeON, University of Warsaw) prior to Invited Keynote on “How to Formulate Effective Policies to Open Access to Research Worldwide”. Conference on Opening Science to Meet Future Challenges. Centre for Open Science, part of the Interdisciplinary Centre for Mathematical and Computational Modelling at the University of Warsaw, 11 March 2014

Yet Another “OA” Study Comparing Apples and Fruit?

Peterson, G. M. (2013). Characteristics of retracted open access biomedical literature: A bibliographic analysis. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 64(12), 2428-2436.

Abstract: The author analyzes retracted biomedical literature to determine if open access and fee-for-access works differ in terms of the practice and effectiveness of retraction. Citation and content analysis were applied to articles grouped by accessibility (libre, gratis, and fee for access) for various bibliometric attributes. Open access literature does not differ from fee-for-access literature in terms of impact factor, detection of error, or change in postretraction citation rates. Literature found in the PubMed Central Open Access subset provides detailed information about the nature of the anomaly more often than less accessible works. Open access literature appears to be of similar reliability and integrity as the population of biomedical literature in general, with the added value of being more forthcoming about the nature of errors when they are identified.

Can’t read the article because it wasn’t OA — but what was being compared here? I doubt it was OA vs non-OA articles. More likely it was articles in Gold OA journals vs articles in toll journals. But the articles in toll journals might have been Green OA. And comparing Gold OA journal articles with toll journal articles is not comparing OA with non-OA. (And if you compare OA articles with non-OA articles, you can’t draw conclusions about journal impact factor, error detection rates or retraction rates.)

Stevan Harnad

Defining OA: The Green/Gold and Immediate/Delayed Distinction

The Green/Gold distinction (which is based on who provides the access: the publisher [Gold] or the author [Green]) is more important now than ever, as publishers fight to retain control of their content. The distinction resolves confusion and is simple to understand (but then needs to be adhered to).

The OA movement should resolutely push for Green OA; Green OA mandates should be formulated to ensure that compliance is by the party bound by the mandate (the fundee, if a funder mandate, the employee, if an institutional mandate). On no account should mandates rely on compliance by a 2nd party, the publisher, who is not bound by the mandate and has every interest in maintaining control over the content.

There is a 3rd way in which articles can be made OA of course, other than by the author (or the author’s assigns) (Green) or by the publisher (Gold): It can be made OA by a 3rd party — either a user or a rival publisher or service provider. This is partly what the Elsevier/ kerfuffle is about, and it will no doubt spread to other 3rd party providers like ResearchGate, Mendeley and the like. (It also concerns versions, because Green OA usually involves only the author’s final draft whereas 3rd-party OA often involves the publisher’s proprietary version-of-record.)

My advice to those who are up in arms about Elsevier’s take-down notice for 3rd-party service providers is to redirect your resentment toward doing something legal and feasible, namely, mandating and depositing the refereed, accepted author-draft in your institutional repository immediately upon acceptance, and making it OA as soon as your can (or wish).

The term “OA” (and the goal of the OA movement) should also continue to be reserved for immediate (online) access. The inverse of Open Access is Access Denial. Access is denied by Access Tolls (subscriptions, licenses, pay-to-view); but, just as surely, access is denied by Access Embargoes. Hence it is a contradiction in terms to call Embargoed Access “Delayed Open Access.” It is Delayed Access (DA), just as Toll Access is Toll Access (TA), not “Toll Open Access!”.

And a one year access embargo is now the real target to beat (as publishers already know all too well). Access delayed for a year is not a victory for the advocates of Open Access; nor is it a solution to the Access/Impact problem in the online era. A 1-year delay might be a convenient unit for doing bibliometric measurements on the growth and latency of Green and Gold Access (and a welcome compromise and marketing ploy for the publishing industry), but “Open Access” should continue to be reserved for immediate, toll-free (and permanent!) online access.

Stevan Harnad

OA’s Real Battle-Ground in 2014: The One-Year Embargo

The prediction that “It is almost certain that within the next few years most journals will become [Delayed] Gold (with an embargo of 12 months)” is an extrapolation and inference from the manifest pattern across the last half-decade:

1. Journal publishers know (better than anyone) that OA is inevitable and unstoppable, only delayable (via embargoes).

2. Journal publishers also know that it is the first year of sales that sustains their subscriptions. (The talk about later sales is just hyperbole.)

3. Publishers have accordingly been fighting tooth and nail against Green OA mandates, by lobbying against Green OA Mandates, by embargoing Green OA, and by offering and promoting hybrid Gold OA.

4. Although the majority of publishers (60%, including Elsevier and Springer) do not embargo Green OA, of the 40% that do embargo Green OA, most have a 1-year embargo.

5. This 1-year embargo on Green is accordingly publishers’ reluctant but realistic compromise: It is an attempt to ward off immediate Green OA with minimal risk by trying to make institutions’ and funders’ Green mandates Delayed Green Mandates instead of Green OA Mandates.

6. Then, as an added insurance against losing control of their content, more and more publishers are releasing online access themselves, on their own proprietary websites, a year after publication: Delayed Gold

The publishers’ calculation is that since free access after a year is a foregone conclusion, because of Green mandates, it’s better (for publishers) if that free access is provided by publishers themselves, as Delayed Gold, so it all remains in their hands (archiving, access-provision, navigation, search, reference linking, re-use, re-publication, etc.).

One-year delayed Gold is also being offered by publishers as insurance against the Green author’s version taking over the function of the publisher’s version of record.

(Publishers even have a faint hope that 1-year Gold might take the wind out of the sails of Green mandates and the clamor for OA altogether: “Maybe if everyone gets Gold access after a year, that will be the end of it! Back to subscription business as before — unless the market prefers instead to keep paying the same price that it now pays for subscriptions, but in exchange for immediate, un-embargoed Gold OA, as in SCOAP3 or hybrid Gold?”)

But I think most publishers also know that sustaining their current subscription revenue levels is a pipe-dream, and that all their tactics are really doing as long as they succeed is holding back the optimal and inevitable outcome for refereed research journal publishing in the OA era for as long as they possibly can:

And the inevitable outcome is immediate Green OA, with authors posting their refereed, accepted final drafts free for all online immediately upon acceptance for publication. That draft itself will in turn become the version of record, because subscriptions to the publisher’s print and online version will become unsustainable once the Green OA version is free for all.

Under mounting cancellation pressure induced by immediate Green OA, publishers will have to cut inessential costs by phasing out the print and online version of record, offloading all access-provision and archiving onto the global network of Green OA institutional repositories, and downsizing to just the provision of the peer review service alone, paid for — per paper, per round of peer review, as Fair Gold (instead of today’s over-priced, double-paid and double-dipped Fool’s Gold) — out of a fraction of each institution’s annual windfall savings from their cancelled annual subscriptions.

So both the 1-year embargo on Green and the 1-year release of Gold are attempts to fend off the above transition: OA has become a fight for that first year of access: researchers need and want it immediately; publishers want to hold onto it until and unless they continue to be paid as much as they are being paid now. The purpose of embargoes is to hold OA hostage to publisher’s current revenue levels, locking in content until they pay the right price.

But there is an antidote for publisher embargoes on immediate Green, and that is the immediate-institutional-deposit mandate plus the “Almost-OA” Request-a-Copy Button (the HEFCE/Liège model mandate), designating the deposit of the final refereed draft in the author’s institutional repository immediately upon acceptance for publication as the sole mechanism for submitting publications for institutional performance review and for compliance with funding conditions.

Once those immediate-deposit mandates are universally adopted, universal OA will only be one keystroke away: The keystroke that sets access to an embargoed deposit as Open Access instead of Closed Access. With immediate-deposit ubiquitous, embargoes will very quickly die their inevitable and well-deserved deaths under the mounting global pressure for immediate OA (for which impatience will be all the more intensified by Button-based Almost-OA).

The scenario is speculative, to be sure, but grounded in the pragmatics, logic and evidence of what is actually going on today.

(Prepare for a vehement round of pseudo-legal publisher FUD about the copy-request Button as its adoption grows — all groundless and ineffectual, but yet another attempt to delay the inevitable for as long as possible, by hook or by crook?)

Stevan Harnad

Harnad, S. (2007) The Green Road to Open Access: A Leveraged Transition. In: Anna Gacs. The Culture of Periodicals from the Perspective of the Electronic Age. L’Harmattan. 99-106.

______ (2010) No-Fault Peer Review Charges: The Price of Selectivity Need Not Be Access Denied or Delayed. D-Lib Magazine 16 (7/8).

Hitchcock, S. (2013) The effect of open access and downloads (‘hits’) on citation impact: a bibliography of studies

Houghton, J. & Swan, A. (2013) Planting the Green Seeds for a Golden Harvest: Comments and Clarifications on “Going for Gold”. D-Lib Magazine 19 (1/2).

Laakso, M & Björk, B-Ch (2013) Delayed open access. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology 64(7): 1323?29

Rentier, B., & Thirion, P. (2011). The Liège ORBi model: Mandatory policy without rights retention but linked to assessment processes.

Sale, A., Couture, M., Rodrigues, E., Carr, L. and Harnad, S. (2012) Open Access Mandates and the “Fair Dealing” Button. In: Dynamic Fair Dealing: Creating Canadian Culture Online (Rosemary J. Coombe & Darren Wershler, Eds.)

Suber, P. (2012) Open Access. MIT Press.

Immediate vs. Delayed Access

Bo-Christer Björk is quite right. The Elsevier study‘s arbitrary (and somewhat self-serving) 6-category classification system (each of whose categories is curiously labelled a “publishing system”) leaves much to be desired.

It is not just what Elsevier called “Gold Open Access” that was Gold Open Access, but also what they called “Subsidised.” The difference is merely that what they called Gold was publishing-fee-based Gold and what they called subsidized was subsidy-based Gold:

1. Gold Open Access
2. Hybrid
3. Subsidised
4. Open Archives
5. Green Open Access: Pre-print versions
6. Green Open Access: Accepted Author Manuscript versions

Elsevier also neglected to mention that “Subsidised” did not necessarily mean subsidized either: There are also subscription-based journals that make their online versions free immediately upon publication; hence they are likewise Gold OA journals.

What Elsevier called “Open Archives” is also not what it sounds like: It seems to be Delayed Access articles, accessible only after a publisher embargo, either on the publisher’s website or in another central website, such as PubMed Central, where publishers also deposit, sometimes immediately, sometimes after an embargo.

The two Green Open Access categories are also ambiguous.The pre-print versions are (correctly) described as pre-refereeing drafts (but it would take a lot closer analysis to determine whether the pre-prints differ from the refereed version. It is easy to determine whether they were posted before the official publication date but far from easy to determine whether they were posted before refereeing. (The date of the letter of acceptance of the refereed draft is often one that only the author and the editor know — though it is in some cases printed in the journal: did Elsevier look at that too?)

The post-refereeing author’s drafts are presumably what they are described as being, but it is not clear by what criteria Elsevier distinguished them from pre-refeeeing drafts (except when they were in an institutional repository and specifically tagged as unrefereed).

So, as Bo-Christer points out, there are many methodological questions about the data without whose answers their meaningfulness and interpretability is limited. I would say that the timing issue is perhaps the most important one. And to sort things out I would like to propose a different system of classification:

Open Access (OA): The term OA should be reserved for immediate OA, regardless whether it is provided by the publisher (Gold) or the author (Green). A reasonable error-margin for OA should be within 3 months or less from publication date. Anything longer begins to overlap with publisher embargoes (of 6, 12, 24 months or longer).

Delayed Access (DA): The term DA should be used for delays of more than 6 months. And besides the usefulness of separately counting 6, 12, and 24 month DA, DA should also be analyzed as a continuous variable, reckoned in months starting from the date of publication (including negative delays, when authors post the refereed draft during the interval from acceptance date to publication date. The unrefereed preprint, however, should not be mixed into this; it should be treated as a separate point of comparison.

So there is Gold OA (immediate), Green OA (immediate), Gold DA and Green DA (measured by 6-month intervals as well as continuously in months.

If a separate distinction is sought within Gold, then fee-based Gold, subsidy-based Gold and subscription-based Gold can be compared, for both OA and DA. The locus of deposit of the Gold is not relevant, but the fact that it was done by the publisher rather than the author (or the author’s assigns) is extremely relevant.

For Green OA and DA it is also important to compare locus of deposit (institutional vs. institution-external). See mandates below.

In all cases independence and redundancy should uniformly be controlled: Whenever a positive “hit” is made in any category, it has to be checked whether there are any instances of the same paper in other categories. Otherwise the data are not mutually exclusive.

If desired, all the above can be further subdivided in terms of Gratis (free online access) and Libre (free online access plus re-use rights) OA and DA.

Tracking Gold has the advantage of having clear unambiguous timing (except if the publication date differs from the date the journal actually appears) and of being exhaustively searchable without having to sample or check (if one has an index of the Gold OA and DA journals).

Tracking Green is much harder, but it must be done, because the fight for OA is rapidly becoming the fight against embargoes. That’s why Green OA should be reserved for immediate access. It is almost certain that within the next few years most journals will become Gold DA (with an embargo of 12 months). Hence 12 months is the figure to beat, and Green DA after 18 months will not be of much use at all.

And the best way to push for immediate Green OA, is to upgrade all Green mandates to require immediate institutional deposit, irrespective of how long an embargo the mandate allows on DA. Requiring immediate deposit does not guarantee immediate OA, but it guarantees immediate Almost-OA, mediated by the repository’s automated copy-request Button, requiring only one click from the requestor and one click from the author.

The immediate-deposit requirement plus the Button not only fits all OA mandates (no matter how they handle embargoes of copyright), making it possible for all institutions and funders to adopt it universally, but it also delivers the greatest amount of immediate access for 100% of deposits: immediate Green OA for X% plus (100-X)% Button-mediated Almost OA. And this, in turn will increase the universal demand for immediacy to the point where publisher embargoes will no longer be able to plug the flood-gates and the research community will have the 100% immediate Green OA it should have had ever since the creation of the web made it possible by making it possible to free the genie from the bottle.

Stevan Harnad

The Science Peer-Review “Sting”: Where the Fault Lies

Comment on: Bohannon, John (2013) Who’s Afraid of Peer Review? Science 342 (6154) 60-65

To show that the bogus-standards effect is specific to Open Access (OA) journals would of course require submitting also to subscription journals (perhaps equated for age and impact factor) to see what happens.

But it is likely that the outcome would still be a higher proportion of acceptances by the OA journals. The reason is simple: Fee-based OA publishing (fee-based “Gold OA”) is premature, as are plans by universities and research funders to pay its costs:

Funds are short and 80% of journals (including virtually all the top, “must-have” journals) are still subscription-based, thereby tying up the potential funds to pay for fee-based Gold OA. The asking price for Gold OA is still arbitrary and high. And there is very, very legitimate concern that paying to publish may inflate acceptance rates and lower quality standards (as the Science sting shows).

What is needed now is for universities and funders to mandate OA self-archiving (of authors’ final peer-reviewed drafts, immediately upon acceptance for publication) in their institutional OA repositories, free for all online (“Green OA”).

That will provide immediate OA. And if and when universal Green OA should go on to make subscriptions unsustainable (because users are satisfied with just the Green OA versions), that will in turn induce journals to cut costs (print edition, online edition), offload access-provision and archiving onto the global network of Green OA repositories, downsize to just providing the service of peer review alone, and convert to the Gold OA cost-recovery model. Meanwhile, the subscription cancellations will have released the funds to pay these residual service costs.

The natural way to charge for the service of peer review then will be on a “no-fault basis,” with the author’s institution or funder paying for each round of refereeing, regardless of outcome (acceptance, revision/re-refereeing, or rejection). This will minimize cost while protecting against inflated acceptance rates and decline in quality standards.

That post-Green, no-fault Gold will be Fair Gold. Today’s pre-Green (fee-based) Gold is Fool’s Gold.

None of this applies to no-fee Gold.

Obviously, as Peter Suber and others have correctly pointed out, none of this applies to the many Gold OA journals that are not fee-based (i.e., do not charge the author for publication, but continue to rely instead on subscriptions, subsidies, or voluntarism). Hence it is not fair to tar all Gold OA with that brush. Nor is it fair to assume — without testing it — that non-OA journals would have come out unscathed, if they had been included in the sting.

But the basic outcome is probably still solid: Fee-based Gold OA has provided an irresistible opportunity to create junk journals and dupe authors into feeding their publish-or-perish needs via pay-to-publish under the guise of fulfilling the growing clamour for OA:

Publishing in a reputable, established journal and self-archiving the refereed draft would have accomplished the very same purpose, while continuing to meet the peer-review quality standards for which the journal has a track record — and without paying an extra penny.

But the most important message is that OA is not identical with Gold OA (fee-based or not), and hence conclusions about peer-review standards of fee-based Gold OA journals are not conclusions about the peer-review standards of OA — which, with Green OA, are identical to those of non-OA.

For some peer-review stings of non-OA journals, see below:

Peters, D. P., & Ceci, S. J. (1982). Peer-review practices of psychological journals: The fate of published articles, submitted again. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 5(2), 187-195.

Harnad, S. R. (Ed.). (1982). Peer commentary on peer review: A case study in scientific quality control (Vol. 5, No. 2). Cambridge University Press

Harnad, S. (1998/2000/2004) The invisible hand of peer review. Nature [online] (5 Nov. 1998), Exploit Interactive 5 (2000): and in Shatz, B. (2004) (ed.) Peer Review: A Critical Inquiry. Rowland & Littlefield. Pp. 235-242.

Branding vs. Freeing

C P Chandrasekhar (2013) Only the Open Access Movement can address the adverse impact of Western domination of the world of knowlege. Frontline (Oct 4 2913)

Interesting article, but I am afraid it misses the most important points:

1. As so often happens, the article takes “OA” to mean Gold OA journals, completely missing Green OA self-archiving and the importance and urgency of mandating it.

2. The article greatly underestimates the role of quality levels and quality control (peer review standards) in the perceived and actual importance and value of research findings, journal articles and journals — focusing instead on over-reliance and abuse of citation metrics (which does indeed occur, but is not the central problem behind disparities in (a) user access to journals to read, (b) author access to journals publish in, or (c) researcher access to funding to do research with).

Providing OA can completely remedy (a), which will in turn help mitigate (b) and that in turn may improve (c). (OA will also greatly enrich and strengthen the variety and validity of metrics.)

But not if we instead just tilt against impact factors and press for new forms of “branding.” Branding is simply the earned reputation of a journal based on its track-record for quality, and that means its peer review standards, as certified by the journal’s name (“brand”).

What is needed is neither new Gold OA journals, nor new forms of “branding.” What is needed is Open Access to the peer-reviewed journal literature, such as it is, free for all online: peer-reviewed research needs to be freed from access-denial, not from peer review.

And the way for India and China (and the rest of the world too) to reach that is for their research institutions and funders to mandate Green OA self-archiving of all their peer-reviewed research output.

That’s all there is to it. The rest is just ideological speculation, which can no more provide Open Access than it can feed the hungry, cure the sick, or protect from injustice. It simply distracts from the tried and tested practical path that needs to be taken to get the job done.

Stevan Harnad

Author Freedom of Choice

Mike Taylor wrote:

MT: “Where have the Wellcome Trust opposed mandating immediate-deposit Green? I don?t see how the fact that they pay their grantees? Gold APCs implies any objection to people taking other routes. Unless they?ve said something that I missed.”

In their recommendations and support for the Finch Report, which declared Green ineffective and recommended downgrading it to preservation archiving instead of OA. See:

On Robert Kiley (Wellcome Trust) on Finch Report and RCUK Mandate

RCUK: Don’t Follow the Wellcome Trust OA Policy Model!

MT: “My own position, stated several times, is that I?ve got no very strong preference for either Gold or Green, caring much more about Open Access. I do think there are advantages to Gold, and that our current Green infrastructure needs a lot of work, but those are minor issues compared with the big one of open vs. non-open.”

The advantages you see in Gold lie in your preferred definition of OA (and of “open” vs. “non-open”). And we are talking about Green OA and Gold OA, not Green and Gold. Your preferences are hence camouflaged by using the terminology generically.

There are, as you know, two kinds or degrees of OA:

Gratis OA: Free online access

Libre OA: Free online access plus certain re-use rights (e.g., CC-BY).

You are an advocate for Libre OA, and when you use the words “OA” and “open” you mean Libre OA.

I am an advocate for Green OA, and have given many reasons — empirical, logical, strategic and practical — for why Green, Gratis OA must come first:

1. Gratis OA is a prerequisite of Libre OA.

2. Gratis OA is more urgently needed than Libre OA.

3. Gratis OA is needed by all fields, Libre OA only by some.

4. Gratis OA faces far fewer publisher obstructions than Libre OA (because it is much less of a threat to publishers).

5. Green Gratis OA can be mandated without over-riding author choice of journal, Libre OA cannot.

6. Green Gratis OA entails no extra cost; Libre Gold OA does.

So when you say you have no preference between Green and Gold and what you care about is OA, what you mean is Libre OA, which in turn entails a preference for Gold OA at the expense of Green OA (hence OA).

And that is exactly what you have been defending in your many public postings: You have criticized Green OA mandates for not requiring Green Libre OA (even though such mandates are presently impossible and would lead to author non-compliance and non-feasibility of Green OA mandates) and you have endorsed paying for Libre Gold OA in preference to providing just Gratis Green.

Not only is Libre OA just as premature and out of reach of mandates today as (Fool’s) Gold OA (overpriced, double-paid, and, if hybrid, also double-dipped) is out of reach financially today, but even immediate, unembargoed Gratis Green OA is still not quite within reach of mandates yet:

The compromise has to be precisely the Liège-model immediate-deposit mandates now being recommended by BOAI-10, HEFCE and BIS (with the eprint-request Button tiding over user needs during any allowable embargo) first.

Once those mandates are adopted globally, they will not only provide a great deal of (Gratis, Green) immediate-OA (at least 60%), plus Button-mediated Almost-OA for all the rest (40%): with all articles being immediately deposited, and with immediate-OA just one access-setting click away they will also exert mounting global pressure for immediate-OA. And 100% immediate-OA will in turn eventually exert cancelation pressure on publishers, which will force downsizing and conversion to Fair-Gold OA and as much Libre OA as users need and authors wish to provide.

MT: “What I have been very negative about, and this may be what you?re thinking of, is the specific form of Green that Finch favours, i.e. prohibiting commercial use and in any case embargoes for one to two years. When that is the Green on offer, then yes, I prefer Gold. But the much better Green that the BIS select committee is recommending is much more appealing.”

Yup, I know that’s what you prefer! And I’ve explained why your preferences are not directly realizable above. They are pre-emptive over-reaching. Grasp what’s reachable first — immediate-deposit mandates — and that will bring the rest of what you seek within reach. Keep counselling unrealistic over-reaching instead, and we’ll have yet another decade of next to nothing. First things first.

And that is precisely what BIS (and HEFCE and BOAI-10) are recommending to be mandated (not what you seem to be imagining).

OA mandates can only work if it is in authors’ interests to comply willingly: if mandates try to co-opt authors’ choice of journals, or cost them money, authors will not comply, and mandates will fail.

MT: “(For that matter I am also not super-keen on Finch-flavoured Gold, which seems to be £2000 APC fed to double-dipping troll-access publishers.)”

Even at one quarter the fee, and non-hybrid, the cost would still be double-paid (core-journal institutional subscription payments, uncancelable till their contents are accessible without them + individual author Gold journal APC payments), hence unaffordable Fool’s Gold (and hence a disaster for a UK that pays it unilaterally). Only Green OA-induced cancellation pressure can downsize them to Fair Gold.

Stevan Harnad

Delayed Access (DA) Is Not Open Access (OA) Any More Than Subscription Access (SA) is OA

It is heartening to know that 50% of articles published in 2008 were freely accessible online in 2012. But when did they become accessible? It could have been at any time from the date of acceptance for publication to December 2012!

A = Access (can be, free or paid, open or restricted, immediate or delayed)
SA = Subscription Access (also called TA: toll access, to include subscription access, licensed access, and pay-to-view access).
OA = Open Access (immediate, permanent, Gratis or Libre)
Gratis OA = toll-free online access
Libre OA = toll-free online access plus certain re-use rights
DA = Delayed Access (free online access after a delay period or embargo
Green OA = OA provided by author self-archiving
Gold OA = OA provided by the publisher — sometimes, but not always, for a publication fee
Delayed Green = free online access provided by the author after a delay (instead of immediately upon publication, which would been Green OA)
Delayed Gold = free online access provided by the publisher after a delay (instead of immediately upon publication, which would been Gold OA)

The purpose of Open Access (OA) is to maximize the uptake, usage, applications and impact of research findings by making them accessible to all users online, rather than just to those users who have subscription access (SA).

There are two ways for authors to make access to their published findings free for all: Publish them in a journal that makes the articles free for all online (“Gold OA”). Or publish them in any journal at all, but also self-archive the final, peer-reviewed draft free for all online (“Green OA”).

But both the Green and the Gold paths to access can be taken immediately, or only after a delay of months or years.

If subscription access (SA) is not OA but restricted access, because it is restricted to subscribers only, then surely both delayed Green Access and delayed Gold Access are not OA either, because access is restricted during any delay period.

Some journals, for example, impose a 12-month embargo on Green self-archiving. And of those journals where the journal itself makes its own articles freely accessible, some journals only do so 12 months after publication or longer.

In many fields, the growth tip for accessing and building upon new findings is within the first year or even earlier. (See the figure from Gentil-Beccot 2009). With delays, potential research progress is slowed and reduced, some of it perhaps even permanently lost.

Hence 50% DA is certainly better than 25% DA — but until research has 100% OA, there’s really not that much to tipple about…

Harnad, S (2013) OA 2013: Tilting at the Tipping Point. Open Access Archivengelism 1022

Peer Access vs. Public Access: OA Pragmatics vs. Ideology

The (shared) goal of open access advocates is presumably open access (OA), not abstractions.

If papers are made OA, it means they are freely accessible to everyone online: both peers and public. If not, not.

So the only problem is getting the papers to be made OA — and that means getting their authors (peers) to make them OA.

If all or most peers made their papers OA of their own accord, that would be it: The OA era would be upon us.

But most don?t make their papers OA ? for a large variety of reasons, all of them groundless, but nevertheless sufficient to have held back OA for over 20 years now.

The solution, fortunately, is known, and already being adopted, though not quickly or widely enough yet: OA has to be made mandatory. The peers have to be required by their funders and their institutions to provide OA.

The only other thing that is needed, then, is to persuade all research funders and institutions to mandate OA.

To do that, you have to give them a reason that is sufficient to convince funders, institutions and peers that all research needs to be made OA, hence that OA needs to be made mandatory.

So it all comes down to what is a sufficient reason for funders and institutions to mandate and peers to provide OA.

The public?s need for access is a reason for providing OA, to be sure, but not a sufficient reason. Fortunately, it need not be, because peer access is a sufficient reason, and peers are part of the public too, hence OA provides access to both peers and public.

So why all this empty shadow-boxing about ideology and elitism, when the only thing that matters is pragmatics?

What will successfully get all peers to provide OA? Telling them that it?s because the public has a burning need to read their papers is a joke, since they all know perfectly well that in most (not all!) fields of research hardly anyone needs or wants to read their papers. The few exceptions do not make it otherwise.

Nor do they need to. For making research accessible to all of its potential users (of which the overwhelming majority are of course peers), rather than just to subscribers, as now, is reason enough for funders and institutions to mandate OA, and for peers to provide it.

Anyone is free to say to funders and institutions who mandate OA primarily to ensure peer access: ?No, no, you must do it in order to ensure public, not just peer access access!?

But it?s a pointless exercise. And will not get OA provided for all of us sooner; it will just distract us from pragmatics in favor of ideology.

Global Research Council: Counting Gold OA Chicks Before the Green OA Eggs Are Laid

The Global Research Council?s Open Access Action Plan is, overall, timely and welcome, but it is far too focused on OA as (?Gold?) OA publishing, rather than on OA itself (online access to peer-reviewed research free for all).

And although GRC does also discuss OA self-archiving in repositories (?Green? OA), it does not seem to understand Green OA?s causal role in OA itself, nor does it assign it its proper priority.

There is also no mention at all of the most important, effective and rapidly growing OA plan of action, which is for both funders and institutions to mandate (require) Green OA self-archiving. Hence neither does the action plan give any thought to the all-important task of designing Green OA mandates and ensuring that they have an effective mechanism for monitoring and ensuring compliance.

The plan says:

?The major principles and aims of the Action Plan are simple: they are (a) encouragement and support for publishing in open access journals, (b) encouragement and support for author self-deposit into open access repositories, and (c) the creation and inter-connection of repositories.?

Sounds like it covers everything — (a) Gold, (b) Green, and (c) Gold+Green ? but the devil is in the details, the causal contingencies, and hence the priorities and sequence of action.

?In transitioning to open access, efficient mechanisms to shift money from subscription budgets into open access publication funds need to be developed.?

But the above statement is of course not about transitioning to OA itself, but just about transitioning to OA publishing (Gold OA).

And the GRC?s action plans for this transition are putting the cart before the horse.

There are very strong, explicit reasons why Green OA needs to come first — rather than double-paying for Gold pre-emptively (subscriptions plus Gold) without first having effectively mandated Green, since it is Green OA that will drive the transition to Gold OA at a fair, affordable, sustainable price:

Plans by universities and research funders to pay the costs of Open Access Publishing (“Gold OA”) are premature. Funds are short; 80% of journals (including virtually all the top journals) are still subscription-based, tying up the potential funds to pay for Gold OA; the asking price for Gold OA is still high; and there is concern that paying to publish may inflate acceptance rates and lower quality standards. What is needed now is for universities and funders to mandate OA self-archiving (of authors’ final peer-reviewed drafts, immediately upon acceptance for publication) (“Green OA”). That will provide immediate OA; and if and when universal Green OA should go on to make subscriptions unsustainable (because users are satisfied with just the Green OA versions) that will in turn induce journals to cut costs (print edition, online edition, access-provision, archiving), downsize to just providing the service of peer review, and convert to the Gold OA cost-recovery model; meanwhile, the subscription cancellations will have released the funds to pay these residual service costs. The natural way to charge for the service of peer review then will be on a “no-fault basis,” with the author’s institution or funder paying for each round of refereeing, regardless of outcome (acceptance, revision/re-refereeing, or rejection). This will minimize cost while protecting against inflated acceptance rates and decline in quality standards.

Harnad, S. (2010) No-Fault Peer Review Charges: The Price of Selectivity Need Not Be Access Denied or Delayed. D-Lib Magazine 16 (7/8).

Action 5: Develop an integrated funding stream for hybrid open access

Worst of all, the GRC action plan proposes to encourage and support hybrid Gold OA, with publishing not just being paid for doubly (via subscriptions to subscription publishers + via Gold OA fees to Gold OA publishers) but, in the case of hybrid Gold, with the double-payment going to the very same publisher, which not only entails double-payment by the research community, but allows double-dipping by the publisher.

That is the way to leave both the price and the timetable for any transition to OA in the hands of the publisher.

Action 6: Monitor and assess the affordability of open access

There is no point monitoring the affordability of Gold OA today, at a stage when it is just a needless double-payment, at the publisher?s current arbitrary, inflated Gold OA asking price.

What does need monitoring is compliance with mandates to provide cost-free Green OA, while subscriptions are still paying in full (and fulsomely) for the cost of publication, as they are today.

Action 7: Work with scholarly societies to transition society journals into open access

The only thing needed from publishers today ? whether scholarly or commercial ? is that they not embargo Green OA. Most (60%) don?t.

The transition to Gold OA will only come after Green OA has made subscriptions unsustainable, which will not only induce publishers to cut obsolete costs, downsize and convert to Gold OA, but it will also release the concomitant institutional subscription cancellation windfall savings to pay the price of that affordable, sustainable post-Green Gold.

Action 8: Supporting self-archiving through funding guidelines and copyright regulations
?The deposit of publications in open access repositories is often hampered not only by legal uncertainties, but also by the authors? reluctance to take on such additional tasks. Funding agencies will address this issue by exploring whether and how authors can be encouraged and supported in retaining simple copyrights as a precondition to self-archiving. In doing so, funders will also address authors? need to protect the integrity of their publications by providing guidance on suitable licenses for such purpose.?

Yes, Green OA needs to be supported. But the way to do that is certainly not just to ?encourage? authors to retain copyright and to self-archive.

It is (1) to mandate (require) Green OA self-archiving (as 288 funders and institutions are already doing: see ROARMAP), (2) to adopt effective mandates that moot publisher OA embargoes by requiring immediate-deposit, whether or not access to the deposit is embargoed, and (3) to designate institutional repository deposit as the mechanism for making articles eligible for research performance review. Then institutions will (4) monitor and ensure that their own research output is being deposited immediately upon acceptance for publication.

Action 9: Negotiate publisher services to facilitate deposit in open access repositories

Again, the above is a terribly counterproductive proposal. On no account should it be left up to publishers to deposit articles.

For subscription publishers, it is in their interests to gain control over the Green OA deposit process, thereby making sure that it is done on their timetable (if it is done at all).

For Gold OA, it?s already OA, so depositing it in a repository is no challenge.

It has to be remembered and understood that the ?self? in self-archiving is the author. The keystrokes don?t have to be personally executed by the author (students, librarians, secretaries can do the keystrokes too). But they should definitely not be left to publishers to do!

Green OA mandates are adopted to ensure that the keystrokes get done, and on time. Most journal are not Gold OA, but a Green OA mandate requires immediate deposit whether or not the journal is Gold OA, and whether or not access to the deposit is embargoed.

Action 10: Work with publishers to find intelligent billing solutions for the increasing amount of open access articles

The challenge is not to find ?billing solutions? for the minority of articles that are published as Gold OA today. The challenge if to adopt an effective, verifiable Green OA mandate to self-archive all articles.

Action 11: Work with repository organisations to develop efficient mechanisms for harvesting and accessing information

This is a non-problem. Harvesting and accessing OA content is already powerful and efficient.

It can of course be made incomparably more powerful and efficient. But there is no point or incentive in doing this while the target content is still so sparse ? because it has not yet been made OA (whether Green or Gold)!

Only about 10 ? 40% of content is OA most fields.

The way to drive that up to the 100% that it could already have been for years is to mandate Green OA.

Then (and only then) will be there be the motivation to ?develop [ever more] efficient mechanisms for harvesting and accessing [OA] information?

Action 12: Explore new ways to assess quality and impact of research articles

This too is happening already, and is not really an OA matter. But once most articles are OA, OA itself will generate rich new ways of measuring quality and impact.

Harnad, S. (2009) Open Access Scientometrics and the UK Research Assessment Exercise. Scientometrics 79 (1)

(Some of these comments have already been made in connection with Richard Poynder’s intreview of Johannes Fournier.)