Max Planck Society Pays for Gold OA and Still Fails to Mandate Green OA

One can only leave it to posterity to judge the wisdom of the Max Planck Society in being prepared to divert “central” funds toward funding the publication of (some) MPS research in (some) Gold OA journals (PLoS) without first mandating Green OA self-archiving for all MPS research output.

It is not as if MPS does not have an Institutional Repository (IR): It has EDOC, containing 108,933 records (although it is not clear how many of those are peer-reviewed research articles, how many of them are OA, and what percentage of MPS’s current annual research output is deposited and OA).

But, despite being a long-time friend of OA, MPS has no Green OA self-archiving mandate. I have been told, repeatedly, that “in Germany one cannot mandate self-archiving,” but I do not believe it, not for a moment. This is pure lack of reflection and ingenuity:

At the very least, Closed Access deposit in EDOC can certainly be mandated for all MPS published research output as a purely administrative requirement, for internal record-keeping and performance-assessment. This is called the “Immediate Deposit, Optional Access” (IDOA) Mandate.

And then the “email eprint request” Button can be added to EDOC to provide almost-OA to all those deposits that the authors don’t immediately make OA of their own accord (95% of journals already endorse immediate OA in some form).

Then the MPS can go ahead and spend any spare money it may have to fund publication instead of research.

This should not be construed as any sort of critique of PLoS, a superb Gold OA publisher, producing superb journals. Nor is it a critique of paying for Gold OA, for those who have the funds.

It is a critique of paying for Gold OA without first having mandated Green OA.

(For that is rather like an institution offering to pay for its employees’ medical insurance for car accidents without first having mandated seat-belts; or, more luridly, offering to pay for the treatment of its employees’ secondary-smoke-induced illnesses without first having mandated that the workplace must be smoke-free.)

Stevan Harnad
American Scientist Open Access Forum