Open Access: The Historic Irony

Historians will look back on our planet’s glacially slow transition to the optimal and inevitable outcome for refereed research dissemination in the online era — free online access webwide — and will point out the irony of the fact that we were so much quicker to commit scarce money to trying to reform publishing (“Gold OA”) through projects like SCOAP3 and COPE than we were to commit to providing free online access (“Green OA”) to our own research output (by depositing it in our institutional repositories, and mandating that it be deposited) at no extra cost at all.

Here is just the latest instance:

SCOAP3 support in the United States almost complete!? So far, over 150 U.S. libraries and library consortia have pledged a total of over 3.2 Million dollars to the SCOAP3 initiative. This is almost the entire contribution expected from partners in the United States. Worldwide, SCOAP3 partners in 24 countries collectively pledged around 7 Million Euros. These pledges represent about 70% of the SCOAP3 funding envelope, and the initiative is getting close to its next steps to convert to Open Access the entire literature of the field of High-Energy Physics.”

Yet (mark my words) it will be Green OA self-archiving — and Green OA self-archiving mandates by institutions and funders — that actually bring us universal OA at long last, and not the limited and ineffectual “gold fever” that is “freeing” (already-free) high energy physics (SCOAP3) — climbing toward 100% OA since 1991 and effectively there since about a decade now! — nor the COPE commitment on the part of universities to pay to make a small portion of their own research output Gold OA — without first committing to make all of it Green OA, cost-free.

[University presidents and provosts especially seem to be quite quick to sign open letters in support of their government’s adopting an open access mandate, yet much slower to adopt an open access mandate for their own institutions!]

Never Pay Pre-Emptively For Gold OA Before First Mandating Green OA

On Not Putting The Gold OA-Payment Cart Before The Green OA-Provision Horse

SCOAP3 and the pre-emptive “flip” model for Gold OA conversion

Compact for Open-Access Publishing Equity [COPE]: Mistaking intent for action?

Putting Principled Support Into Practice: What Provosts Need to Mandate

Stevan Harnad
American Scientist Open Access Forum