Open Access FAQ from Allianz der deutschen Wissenschaftsorganisationen needs corrective updates

Unfortunately the first draft of the “Frequently asked Questions zu Open Access und Zweitveröffentlichungsrecht (FAQ)” of Germany’s Allianz der deutschen Wissenschaftsorganisationen (ADW) perpetuates several widespread and longstanding misunderstandings about Open Access.

The misunderstandings are mostly in the form of two unreflective reversals of practical and strategic priorities, insisting, prematurely, on far less urgent and important and much less reachable OA goals, while neglecting or even rejecting far more urgent and important OA goals that are already fully within reach.

(1) Gratis OA vs Libre OA: Gratis OA is (1a) free online access to refereed journal articles. Libre OA is (1a) free online access to refereed journal articles (1b) plus certain further re-use and re-publication rights.

We do not yet even have Gratis OA (1a), but it is already fully within reach; yet the ADW FAQ insists on Libre OA (1b), rejecting Gratis OA (1a) as not good enough.

(2) Green OA vs Gold OA: Green OA is (2a) Gratis OA to the author’s final refereed drafts of all refereed journal articles, provided through author self-archiving of all refereed journal articles. Gold OA is (2b) Gratis or Libre OA to articles published in OA journals.

We do not yet even have Green OA (2a), but it is already fully within reach; yet the ADW FAQ insists on Gold OA (1b), rejecting Green OA (1a) as not good enough.

This kind of counterproductive over-reaching is a formula for yet another decade of attaining minimal OA of any kind.

For correctives, see the longstanding BOAI Self-Archiving FAQ and especially #23 (“Version Control”), #31 (“Waiting for Gold”), #36 (“Re-Use”) and #37 (“Permissions”).

The ADW FAQs need to be corrected and updated to explain and advocate that the worldwide research community should first grasp what is already fully within its immediate reach, namely, Green Gratis OA self-archiving — through institutional and funder Green Gratis OA self-archiving mandates (requirements). Only after the immensely valuable immediate benefit for research that is already within reach (universal Green Gratis OA) has been grasped should we be thinking of going on to Gold OA publishing and Libre OA re-use/republication rights.

Figure 1. Springer Gold OA growth curve S (20% per year) and simulated Björk growth curve B (30% per year) (Laakso et al 2011) equated for year 2009. Note that the Björk curve would reach 100% Gold OA for all journals (ISI + non-ISI) in 2022, at a time when the Springer curve would not yet have reached 40% for ISI journals. Laakso et al’s estimate of 30% Gold OA growth and Springer’s estimate of 20% Gold OA growth can be reconciled if we note that the 30% rate was as of 2000, and has slowed to 20% as of 2005. More important, either way, the Björk curve would not reach 60% till 2019, and the Springer curve would not reach 60% till 2025, whereas the four mandated repositories had already reached 60% in 2004-2006, within two years of having adopted their mandates (Figure 2, below).

Figure 2. Percent green OA self-archiving averaged for the four institutions with the oldest self-archiving mandates, compared to the percentage for control articles from other institutions published in the same journals (for years 2002-2009, measured in 2011). Respective totals are derived from Thompson-Reuters-ISI index. Mandates triple the percent Green OA (Figure 3, below).

Figure 3. Yearly increase in the number of Green OA self-archiving mandates adopted by institutions and funders (data from ROARMAP).

Stevan Harnad