Appel de participation : exigences de ressource pour libre accès pour les revues savantes à but non lucratif

Êtes-vous un(e) lettré(e) impliqué dans la publication libre accès à but non lucratif (d’une à trois revue(s) savante(s), des actes de conférence occasionnels, ou la publication à petite échelle de monographie)? Ou, voudrait votre maison d’édition à petite échelle changer à libre accès, si on peut changer le soutien pour les opérations? Si la réponse est oui, je vous invite à participer à un entretien (à peu pres la moitié de l'heure ou une heure) conçu pour déterminer plus des ressources nécessaires pour soutenir ce type de publication libre accès.
Les résultats des entrevues faire une base pour plus de recherche, incluant étude de cas et focus groupes, comme preparation pour un projet plus grand sur les économies d’une transition global ver libre accès. Il est probable que les résultats de cette recherche seront utile pour le développement des affaires pour publication libre accès, est que les résultats vont informer le bon politique libre accès. Les participants peuvent choisir si leurs contributions seront anonymes et confidentiels ou libre accès et reconnues.
Se porter volontaire ou pour des informations complémentaires contactent, s'il vous plaît Heather Morrison re: Titre du project: exigences de ressource pour libre accès pour les revues savantes à but non lucratif.
Au plaisir,
Dr. Heather Morrison
Professeure Adjointe
École des sciences de l'information / School of Information Studies
University of Ottawa
Heather dot Morrison at uottawa dot ca

PLOS ONE at AGU 2013



PLOS ONE is excited to participate in the American Geophysical Union’s (AGU) Fall Meeting 2013, held this week in San Francisco’s Moscone Center. Conveniently, Moscone is just down the street from our San Francisco office, so several members of PLOS staff will be in attendance and available to chat with you about the journal. We’re looking forward to meeting both current and potential Academic Editors, reviewers, and of course authors! Please stop by Booth #301 to say hello.

Last week was a very geophysics-oriented one for us, with both the publication of Hansen et al.’s work “Assessing “Dangerous Climate Change”: Required Reduction of Carbon Emissions to Protect Young People, Future Generations and Nature” and with the announcement of our call for papers in a new collection entitled “Responding to Climate Change.” What’s more exciting is that James Hansen will be in attendance at AGU and will be giving a talk today (December 10th) on this topic, in support of taking significant, active measures to reduce fossil fuel emissions.

Last year, at AGU 2012, we were a little bit of an unfamiliar face to many. This year, we hope to continue our conversation with the physical sciences community about our commitment to open access and the publication of sound scientific research in all areas of science and medicine, including geoscience, space science, chemistry, and physics.

After AGU, look out for the PLOS booth again in just a few days at the American Society for Cell Biology!

Image Credit: Detailed view of Arctic Sea Ice in 2007, from NASA Visible Earth.

Cameo Replies to Beall’s List of Howlers

Beall, Jeffrey (2013) The Open-Access Movement is Not Really about Open Access. TripleC Communication, Capitalism & Critique Journal. 11(2): 589-597

This wacky article is easy to debunk, though I still think Jeff Beall is doing something useful with his list naming and shaming junk journals. It reveals, however, that Jeff is driven by some sort of fanciful conspiracy theory! ‘OA is all an anti-capitalist plot.’ (Even on a quick skim it is evident that his article is rife with half-truths, errors and downright nonsense. Pity. It will diminish the credibility of his valid exposés. Maybe this is a good thing, if the judgment and motivation behind Beall’s list is as kooky as this article, but it will now also give the genuine “predatory” junk-journals some specious arguments for discrediting Jeff’s work altogether. It will also furnish the publishing lobby with some good sound-bites — but they use them at their peril, because of all the patent nonsense in which they are inseparably embedded!)

Now a few deadpan rejoinders to just the most egregious howlers:

“ABSTRACT: While the open-access (OA) movement purports to be about making scholarly content open-access, its true motives are much different. The OA movement is an anti-corporatist movement that wants to deny the freedom of the press to companies it disagrees with. The movement is also actively imposing onerous mandates on researchers, mandates that restrict individual freedom. To boost the open-access movement, its leaders sacrifice the academic futures of young scholars and those from developing countries, pressuring them to publish in lower-quality open-access journals. The open-access movement has fostered the creation of numerous predatory publishers and standalone journals, increasing the amount of research misconduct in scholarly publications and the amount of pseudo-science that is published as if it were authentic science.”

There are two ways to provide OA: Publish your article in an OA journal (Gold OA) – or –
Publish in any journal you freely choose, and self-archive your final peer-reviewed draft in your institution’s OA repository (Green OA).

“The open-access movement isn’t really about open access. Instead, it is about collectivizing production and denying the freedom of the press from those who prefer the subscription model of scholarly publishing. It is an anti-corporatist, oppressive and negative movement, one that uses young researchers and researchers from developing countries as pawns to artificially force the make-believe gold and green open-access models to work. The movement relies on unnatural mandates that take free choice away from individual researchers, mandates set and enforced by an onerous cadre of Soros-funded European autocrats?”

Green OA provides online access to peer-reviewed research for all potential users, not just those at subscribing institutions.

With Green OA mandated, those who wish to continue paying subscriptions (and can afford to) are free to keep on paying them for as long as they like.

Publish in any journal you freely choose, and self-archive your final peer-reviewed draft in your institution’s OA repository (Green OA).

“The open-access movement is a failed social movement and a false messiah, but its promoters refuse to admit this. The emergence of numerous predatory publishers ? a product of the open-access movement ? has poisoned scholarly communication, fostering research misconduct and the publishing of pseudo-science, but OA advocates refuse to recognize the growing problem. By instituting a policy of exchanging funds between researchers and publishers, the movement has fostered corruption on a grand scale. Instead of arguing for openaccess, we must determine and settle on the best model for the distribution of scholarly research, and it’s clear that neither green nor gold open-access is that model?”

There are two ways to provide OA: Publish your article in an OA journal (Gold OA) – or –
Publish in any journal you freely choose, and self-archive your final peer-reviewed draft in your institution’s OA repository (Green OA).

“Open access advocates think they know better than everyone else and want to impose their policies on others. Thus, the open access movement has the serious side-effect of taking away other’s freedom from them. We observe this tendency in institutional mandates. Harnad (2013) goes so far as to propose [an]?Orwellian system of mandates? documented [in a] table of mandate strength, with the most restrictive pegged at level 12, with the designation “immediate deposit + performance evaluation (no waiver option)”.

Publish in any journal you freely choose, and self-archive your final peer-reviewed draft in your institution’s OA repository (Green OA).

“A social movement that needs mandates to work is doomed to fail. A social movement that uses mandates is abusive and tantamount to academic slavery. Researchers need more freedom in their decisions not less. How can we expect and demand academic freedom from our universities when we impose oppressive mandates upon ourselves??”

Publish in any journal you freely choose, and self-archive your final peer-reviewed draft in your institution’s OA repository (Green OA).

(Perhaps a publish-or-perish mandate, too, is academic slavery? Or a “show-up-for-your-lectures-or-you’re-fired” mandate? Or a mandate to submit CVs digitally instead of in print? Or not smoke on the premises?)

“[F]rom their high-salaried comfortable positions?OA advocates… demand that for-profit, scholarly journal publishers not be involved in scholarly publishing and devise ways (such as green open-access) to defeat and eliminate them?”

Green OA provides online access to peer-reviewed research for all potential users, not just those at subscribing institutions.

With Green OA mandated, those who wish to continue paying subscriptions (and can afford to) are free to keep on paying them for as long as they like.

If and when globally mandated Green OA makes subscriptions unsustainable, journals will cut out inessential products and services (such as print edition, online edition, access-provision and archiving) and their costs, and downsize to providing peer review alone, paid for, per outgoing institutional article, out of the institution’s incoming journal subscription cancellation savings.

“OA advocates use specious arguments to lobby for mandates, focusing only on the supposed economic benefits of open access and ignoring the value additions provided by professional publishers. The arguments imply that publishers are not really needed; all researchers need to do is upload their work, an action that constitutes publishing, and that this act results in a product that is somehow similar to the products that professional publishers produce?.”

Green OA is the peer-reviewed draft. Subscriptions pay for peer review today. If cancelled, the savings will pay for peer review (and any other publisher product or service for which there is still a demand left, once Green OA repositories are doing all the access-provision and archiving).

Stevan Harnad

Mama Gorilla Knows Best


While few question the importance of maternal care in humans, scientists do question the influence of a mother’s behavior in other species. Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology have now published an article in PLOS ONE showing exactly how important a mother’s guidance can be to our friend the western lowland gorilla. After monitoring the spread of two specific behaviors in captive groups of gorillas, the authors suggest that gorilla mothers play a vital role in social learning and the transmission of behaviors between generations.

The authors videotaped gorilla behavior for 4-6 hours per day over the course of eight weeks in 2000 and 2010 at Howletts Wild Animal Parks. Throughout their sittings, they watched for two specific behaviors shown by different individuals: the “Puff-Blowing” technique, used during mealtimes to separate oat from chaff, and the “Throw-Kiss-Display,” one male gorilla’s coy way of drawing visitors’ attention to him. Check out the live-action versions in the videos below.

During the initial observational period in 2000, the “Puff-Blowing” technique was used by three adult females, while the “Throw-Kiss-Display” was implemented by a single silverback male, Kouillou, and no other members of the group.

By the time the researchers returned in 2010, the “Puff-Blowing” technique was practiced by 15 individuals, while the “Throw-Kiss-Display” had been dropped entirely, even by the original practitioner.

When the researchers analyzed the data, they found that the spread of the observed “Puff-Blowing” technique to new gorillas could be tracked through mother-child relationships. All but three offspring (13 total) of the original three mothers used the technique. Furthermore, this behavior was never seen in the offspring of mothers who did not perform the technique.

Based on their observations, the authors suggest that the actions of the gorilla mother play a major role in the transmission of behaviors. In other words, baby gorilla see, baby gorilla do. While the authors mention that “Puff-Blowing” may be more likely to be passed down because it’s useful at mealtime—unlike the “Throw-Kiss-Display”—they argue that the path of transmission (mother-offspring) is significant. The authors also indicate that genetic factors may affect the occurrence of these behaviors, as not all offspring of the “Puff-Blowing” mothers inherited the action, suggesting that other forces may be at play.

Lesson learned: Even gorillas need their mommies.

For more evidence of the importance of mothers in the animal kingdom, check out this paper on migration patterns in humpback whales.

Citation: Luef EM, Pika S (2013) Gorilla Mothers Also Matter! New Insights on Social Transmission in Gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) in Captivity. PLoS ONE 8(11): e79600. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0079600

Image Credit: USINFO Photo Gallery

Videos: S1 and S2 from the paper


Open access publishing by APC: dominated by the commercial sector

To put this post in context: Beall just published an article in Triple C claiming, among other things, that “the open access movement is an anti-corporatist movement“. This just doesn’t make sense. Beall’s focus is on the subset of the OA movement that uses open access article processing fees. This segment of open access journal publishing is actually heavily dominated by the commercial sector. For example, based on our research-in-progress, the 14 largest publishers in DOAJ “with article processing charge” (publishers with 20 or more journals) appear to be all commercial companies. (If this is not correct please let me know).

Data thanks to César Villamizar

Publisher Using OA APCs
# journals
Hindawi Publishing Corporation
BioMed Central
Scientific Research Publishing
Bentham open
Dove Medical Press
Libertas Academica
Internet Scientific Publications, LLC
Canadian Center of Science and Education
Frontiers Media
Hans Publishers
Asian Network for Scientific Information
Co-Action Publishing

In total, these publishers account for 1,326 of the 2,637journals listed in DOAJ “with article processing charge”. The total percentage of journals using APCs that are commercial in nature has not been calculated, but will be more than 50% as many of the smaller publishers are also commercial in nature. Note that these 2,637 journals “with article processing charge” represent only 26% of the close to 10 thousand journals listed in DOAJ – and open access journal publishing is only one of the means of providing open access, along with open access archiving.

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

Don’t (Just) Boycott or Fulminate: Deposit!

Elsevier may have enough clout with take-down notices to 3rd-party service providers like, ResearchGate or (its own!) Mendeley (and might be able to weather the fierce backlash blizzard that will now follow) — but not if they try it with authors or institutions self-archiving the refereed final drafts of their own research output.

This latest incident is yet another cue to push worldwide for the adoption of immediate institutional deposit mandates (and the repositories’ automated copy-request Button) by all research institutions and funders.

Since 2004 Elsevier formally recognizes their authors’ right to do immediate, unembargoed OA self-archiving of their refereed final drafts (not the Elsevier PDF version of record) on their institutional websites.

And even if they ever do try to rescind that, closed-access deposit is immune to take-down notices.

(But I don’t think Elsevier will dare arouse that global backlash by rescinding its 9-year-old policy of endorsing unembargoed Green OA by Elsevier authors — they will instead try to hope that they can either bluff authors off with their empty double-talk about “systematicity” and “voluntariness” or buy their institutions off by sweetening their publication big-deal on condition they don’t mandate Green OA?)

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

Elsevier Study Commissioned by UK BIS

Elsevier has just conducted and published a study commissioned by UK BIS: “International Comparative Performance of the UK Research Base ? 2013

This study finds twice as much Green OA (11.6%) as Gold OA (5.9%) in the UK (where both Green OA repositories and Green OA mandates began) and about equal levels of Green (5.0%) and Gold (5.5%) in the rest of the world.

There are methodological weaknesses in the Elsevier study, which was based on SCOPUS data (Gold data are direct and based on the whole data set, Green data are partial and based on hand-sampling; timing is not taken into account; categories of OA are often arbitrary and not mutually exclusive, etc). But the overall pattern may have some validity.

What does it mean?

It means the effects of Green OA mandates in the UK — where there are relatively more of them, and they have been there for a half decade or more — are detectable, compared to the rest of the world, where mandates are relatively fewer.

But 11.6% Green is just a pale, partial indicator of how much OA Green OA mandates generate: If instead of looking at the world (where about 1% of institutions and funders have OA mandates) or the UK (where the percentage is somewhat higher, but many of the mandates are still weak and ineffective ones), one looks specifically at the OA percentages for effectively mandated institutions, the Green figure jumps to over 80% (about half of it immediate-OA and half embargoed OA: deposited, and accessible during the embargo via the repository’s automated copy-request Button, with a click from the requestor and a click from the author).

So if the planet’s current level of Green OA is 11.6%, its level will jump to at least 80% as effective Green OA mandates are adopted.

Meanwhile, Gold OA will continue to be unnecessary, over-priced, double-paid (which journal subscriptions still need to be paid) and potentially even double-dipped (if paid to the same hybrid subscription/Gold publisher) out of scarce research funds contributed by UK tax-payers (“Fool’s Gold“).

But once Green OA prevails worldwide, Fair Gold (and all the Libre OA re-use rights that users need and authors want to provide) will not be far behind.

We are currently gathering data to test whether the immediate-deposit (HEFCE/Liege) Green OA mandate model is indeed the most effective mandate (compared, for example, with the Harvard copyright-retention model with opt-out, or the NIH model with a 12 month embargo) in terms of deposit percentage and timing.

Stevan Harnad

P.S. Needless to say, the fact that the UK’s Green OA rate is twice as high as its Gold OA rate is true despite the new Finch/FCUK policy which subsidizes and prefers Gold and tries to downgrade Green — certainly not because of it!

Can we trust Commercial Publishers or are we moving to 1984-like “Publishers of Truth”? We must act now

In Orwell’s 1984 the Ministry of Truth rewrote history and rewrote the present. Orwell showed that if you control the provision of information you can alter people’s thoughts and values. I think we are in great danger of scholarly publishing moving in that direction, where commercial organisations, answerable to no-one except their money-oriented shareholders, reengineer truth in scholarship to generate profits, rather than reflect three thousand years of hard won values.

At least three events have deeply troubled me.

  • The distortion of Content. The most recent is the implication from – I think – ISIS in the Ecologist blog that the accepted values of scholarly publication are becoming distorted by the publisher. See which I reproduce in full at the bottom of the post. It contains the phrases:


    This arbitrary, groundless retraction of a published, thoroughly peer-reviewed paper is without precedent in the history of scientific publishing, and raises grave concerns over the integrity and impartiality of science.

    The retraction is erasing from the public record results that are potentially of very great importance for public health. It is censorship of scientific research, knowledge, and understanding, an abuse of science striking at the very heart of science and democracy, and science for the public good.

    And :

  • the appointment of ex-Monsanto employee Richard Goodman to the newly created post of associate editor for biotechnology at FCT [the journal in question]
  • the retraction of another study finding potentially harmful effects from GMOs (which almost immediately appeared in another journal)
  • the failure to retract a paper published by Monsanto scientists in the same journal in 2004, for which a gross error has been identified.

Readers may recall that Merck paid Elsevier to publish a fake journal promoting their products ( )

Merck paid an undisclosed sum to Elsevier to produce several volumes of [Australasian Journal of Bone and Joint Medicine], a publication that had the look of a peer-reviewed medical journal, but contained only reprinted or summarized articles—most of which presented data favorable to Merck products—that appeared to act solely as marketing tools with no disclosure of company sponsorship.[4][5]

    I cannot comment authoritatively about the present case but readers should follow it.

  • The distortion of merit. In 2012 Thomson-Reuters discontinued the indexing of Acta Crystallographica E ( ). I have lauded this Journal as the best data-journal in the whole of science – it is meticulously peer-reviewed by humans and has a world-beating data-review system with over 500 checks. I [2] have read every single article(over 10,000). TR arbitrarily removed it from their index without telling the IUCr, who then reported a drop in submissions to the journal. TR have the arbitrary power to decide what is an acceptable 1984-journal and what is not.
  • The distortion of discovery. If an article cannot be discovered it does not 1984-exist. The academic world has sat back and waited for commercial organizations to index its material. When Google Scholar was created it was a Friday-afternoon project, but it gained traction and is now the main public arbiter of where a journal is to be found. Last month a major linkup between Google Scholar and TR was announced: .Effectively this means that if an article is not exposed in the first page by Google Scholar it does not exist. Neither Google nor TR are answerable to anyone except shareholders.

    The bibliographic management system Mendeley was acquired by Elsevier. Mendeley are answerable only to Elsevier shareholders. No one knows what content Elsevier has acquired. No one knows what content is exposed, with what priority.

This means that the control of the content of scholarship, the dissemination of scholarship, and the valuation of scholarship is in the hands of mega-corporations. Do you trust that this is not becoming the Ministry of Scholarship?

What can we do?

A lot. We can’t look to Universities as they have completely failed to address C21 scholarship. But Wikipedia and Mozilla (and others) have shown that concerned citizens can create massive value, which, being Open is at a high level of Truth. The technology is now in our hands. What we must do is:

  • Build our own index of scholarship. It’s technically possible, and in my own Content Mine project I am making a start. The only things holding us back are lawyers and apathy.
  • Make it blindingly better and more useful than the present system. That’s a challenge, but Wikipedia is already the best scholarly publishing system in C21 and much of the hard work has been done. We can build a better content, discovery and valuation system for Scholarship.

Join us before it is too late.


[1] Full text of the Ecologist blog

Following the retraction of the Seralini et al scientific paper which found health damage to rats fed on GM corn, by the Journal ‘Food and Chemical Toxicology’, over 100 scientists have pledged in this Open Letter to boycott Elsevier, publisher of the Journal.

To: Wallace Hayes, Editor in Chief, Food and Chemical Toxicology; Elsevier

Re: “Long term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize”, by G E Séralini et al, published in Food and Chemical Toxicology 2012, 50(11), 4221-31.

Your decision to retract the paper is in clear violation of the international ethical norms as laid down by the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), of which FCT is a member. According to COPE, the only grounds for retraction are

  1. clear evidence that the findings are unreliable due to misconduct or honest error,
  2. plagiarism or redundant publication, or
  3. unethical research.

You have already acknowledged that the paper of Séralini et al (2012) contains none of those faults.

This arbitrary, groundless retraction of a published, thoroughly peer-reviewed paper is without precedent in the history of scientific publishing, and raises grave concerns over the integrity and impartiality of science. These concerns are heightened by a sequence of events surrounding the retraction:

  • the appointment of ex-Monsanto employee Richard Goodman to the newly created post of associate editor for biotechnology at FCT
  • the retraction of another study finding potentially harmful effects from GMOs (which almost immediately appeared in another journal)
  • the failure to retract a paper published by Monsanto scientists in the same journal in 2004, for which a gross error has been identified.

The retraction is erasing from the public record results that are potentially of very great importance for public health. It is censorship of scientific research, knowledge, and understanding, an abuse of science striking at the very heart of science and democracy, and science for the public good.

We urge you to reverse this appalling decision, and further, to issue a fulsome public apology to Séralini and his colleagues. Until you accede to our request, we will boycott Elsevier, i.e., decline to purchase Elsevier products, to publish, review, or do editorial work for Elsevier.

[2] in conjunction with my colleagues and machines.

CGIAR: Now Officially Open Access

CGIAR – the global research partnership for a food-secure future ( – has long been known as a leader in agricultural research for development (AR4D); but not necessarily considered a leader in easy, free, and open access to its research results and data.  But this has changed.  With a process that started in April 2012 with the approval of the “CGIAR Principles on the Management of Intellectual Assets”, which requires that “the [CGIAR] Consortium . . . promptly and broadly disseminate their research results”, and culminated late last month in the unanimous approval of the CGIAR Open Access and Data Management Policy, the CGIAR Consortium is now officially Open Access.

Of course, this is a process that will take some time to fully implement, but many CGIAR Consortium Member Centers are already providing free and open access to research outputs.  For some examples, see:

The new Open Access policy, mandatory across the Consortium following its approval, calls for a timeline that would have all CGIAR Research Programs (CRPs) compliant with the policy within 3 years, and all Centers compliant within 5 years.

CGIAR produces a veritable goldmine of critical research data, information and knowledge, and has decades of research outputs that it could contribute to the AR4D sector.  Our goal is to make that data, information, and knowledge more accessible to the world, to increase the pace of innovation and impact of the research enterprise.  This is, obviously, easier said than done, which is why the implementation process will focus as much on institutional culture change and incentives as it will open, interoperable standards and platforms.  We will work closely with partners, including the new Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN)  initiative ( being spearheaded by DFID and USDA, as well as FAO, a recognized leader in data standards for agricultural research.

To support implementation of the Policy, the CGIAR Consortium is in the process of developing comprehensive Implementation Guidelines.  A first draft version of the Guidelines was posted in October on our website, and a second version will be posted for public consultation in December.

For more information about CGIAR’s Open Access efforts, as well as to track progress, please see

Snail Mucus May Alter Plant Defenses

Michael_Gwyther-Jones_-_Garden_Snail_smallPredator-prey relationships make up a large part of the food chain, and both predators and prey have developed visual, auditory, physical, and even chemical abilities to better their respective chances for surviving, whether that means catching a meal or avoiding turning into one. Ants may mimic spiders to avoid predators and a grizzly bear’s size and strength allow them to feast on pretty much anything. But what about the interactions between a slow-moving predator, like the garden snail pictured above, and completely stationary “prey,” like a plant?

Garden snails are found throughout the world and feast on many species of plants, including those in our gardens. One of those species is the black mustard plant. Originally from the Mediterranean, black mustard is now common throughout the world. Scientists are working to understand if a common plant, like black mustard, may be able to pick up chemical signals from snail mucus called kairomones and preemptively change their biochemistry to become less appealing to snails. Snails produce mucus during motion, and its presence is often a good indicator to plants that a snail is nearby.

In a recent article published in PLOS ONE, a researcher from the Department of Zoology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison studied whether “unwounded” black mustard plants exposed to snail mucus before being exposed to actual snails experienced lower rates of snail predation.

The researcher exposed black mustard plants at different ages to snail mucus, collected on paper, when the plant was a seed, a seedling, or when it was a seed and again when it was a seedling. The control plant group was not exposed to mucus at any point. After plants were exposed to one of these treatments, a single adult garden snail was then placed with one of the plants to measure if the snail would munch on each plant equally.

Plants that received early exposure or a repeated exposure to mucus during the seedling stage showed a reduced susceptibility to snail feeding or “attack,” but plants in the control group experienced no significant reduction in feeding. The author suggests that plants may pick up on chemicals associated with plant eaters—in this case snail mucus—that may prompt them to become less appealing before an initial attack even occurs.

Although the chemical mechanism that the plants used to make themselves less appealing isn’t clear, in this predator-prey-like interaction, the predators may actually be inadvertently making their dinner less appealing. Turns out gardeners aren’t the only ones that don’t like slimy snail trails.

Citation: Orrock JL (2013) Exposure of Unwounded Plants to Chemical Cues Associated with Herbivores Leads to Exposure-Dependent Changes in Subsequent Herbivore Attack. PLoS ONE 8(11): e79900. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0079900

Image: Garden Snail by Michael Gwyther-Jones

Earth’s Future Publishes its First Papers

Earth's Future cover

We are pleased to announce that Earth’s Future has launched its first articles.  Read the excellent research that we’ve published so far.

purple_lock_open Earth’s Future: Navigating the Science of the Anthropocene

purple_lock_open The Future of Agriculture Over the Ogallala Aquifer – Solutions to Grow Crops More Efficiently with Limited Water

purple_lock_open A geological perspective on sea-level rise and its impacts along the U.S. mid-Atlantic coast

purple_lock_open Conservation easements and mining: the case of Chile

purple_lock_open Knowing The unknowns

purple_lock_open How Far Have We Come in Earth System Science?

purple_lock_open An apparent hiatus in global warming?

Sign up

Earth’s Future is a new kind of journal – a transdisciplinary open access journal, with a mission to help researchers, policy makers, and the public navigate the science. Earth’s Future focuses on the state of the Earth and the prediction of the planet’s future.

We would like to invite you to submit your papers to the journal. All articles in Earth’s Future are published under a Creative Commons License and are free to read, download and share. So you’ll comply with any funder requirements, and ensure that your work is available to all.


SPARC Webcast December 10th: Open Access Developments in Latin America with Nicholas Cop

Another free SPARC online event
Tuesday, December 10th, 2013?

12:00 – 1:00PM EDT (use helpful time converter)? 

Registration is free, but required. Please RSVP by December 6th.
This webcast requires both a phone dial-in and an Internet connection. 

Open Access Week events showcased the many ways people across the globe informed staff, faculty, and students to the benefits of Open Access. While there have been many advancements made here in the U.S. and the U.K., developing countries have utilized new publishing models to capitalize on opening up research results and data. Latin America, in particular has seen unprecedented surge in advocacy for public access –Argentina now has legislation that requires all publicly funded research be available in open access interoperable institutional repositories. 

Using an Open Access peer-review model for their repository, the Scientific Electronic Library Online (SciELO) has gained a positive reputation across the globe –now has on average over one million articles downloaded from the their site each day and their journals currently boast almost 10 million citations.

Our guest speaker, Nicholas Cop, is the Founder and President of Nicholas Cop Consulting, LLC and consultant on the SciELO program. SciELO began in 1998 as an e-journal initiative funded by the São Paulo Research Foundation. SciELO publishes over 1000 journal titles mainly from Latin America and Caribbean but also including Portugal, Spain and South Africa. 

Nicholas will provide background and updates on Open Access in Latin America and the many developments SciELO is undertaking.

To accommodate interest in every time zone, this 1-hour event will be recorded and available on our website shortly afterwards.   

Please join us for a lively and interactive discussion. SPARC’s Communication’s Manager, Andrea Higginbotham, will be moderating questions during the webcast. Feel free to post preliminary comments and questions for Nicholas right here.  

For additional information, contact SPARC’s Communication’s Manager, Andrea Higginbotham at andrea [at] arl [dot] org.