More on failing to grasp the Gratis OA within reach because of over-reaching for the Libre OA that is not

Peter Murray-Rust, in his valid and important advocacy for data-archiving and data-mining, has been arguing for the advantages of Libre Gold OA (LiGoOA: free online access + re-use rights + publication in a Gold OA journal) over Gratis Green OA (GrGrOA: free online access). I argue that since GrGrOA asks for less, faces fewer obstacles, and is immediately reachable today if mandated, we should not miss that opportunity by trying to over-reach instead directly for LiGoOA, since it is not within reach.

The practical advantages of grasping gratis Green OA before trying to reach Libre Gold OA

Peter Murray-Rust (PMR) misses the main advantages of Gratis Green OA (GrGrOA):

(1) Immediate GrGrOA has far smaller obstacles, being already endorsed by over 60% of journals (including almost all the top journals).

(2) Hence GrGrOA can already provide at least 60% GrGrOA plus 40% almost-OA (with the repository?s automated email-eprint-request button) today.

(3) Hence immediate 60% GrGrOA plus 40% almost-OA can already be mandated.

This contrasts with Libre Gold OA (LiGoOA):

(1′) LiGoOA is not yet endorsed by any journal other than the small proportion of LiGoOA that already exist (say, about 10%, and that does not include most of the top journals).

(2′) Hence LiGoOA can only provide 10% LiGoOA today.

(3′) LiGoOA cannot be mandated (today, or ever).

All the LiGoOA advantages PMR seeks will come, but before we reach LiGoOA we have to reach GrGrOA, and we won?t reach it by over-reaching: GrGrOA will simply inherit LiGoOA?s bigger obstacles.

(And what comes with the territory with GrGrOA is searching, downloading locally, reading, saving locally, data-crunching, printing off; that?s all. But it?s incomparably more than what we have now, without GrGrOA.)

No axioms: Just evidence, logic and pragmatics

PMR:There is a difference between the size of an obstacle and the number of obstacles. I agree that there is quantitatively more opportunity for self-archiving than LiGo.”

And for mandating 100% of it. And that’s what OA is about: Reaching 100% OA, at long last.

PMR:I do not understand the phrase ?almost-OA?.

Articles deposited as Closed Access but semi-automatically requestable via the repository’s email eprint request Button.

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 OnlinePMR:This figure [ % Gold OA] is growing”

But not fast enough. And unlike Green, cannot be accelerated with mandates.

Poynder, Richard (2011) Open Access by Numbers, Open and Shut, 19 June 2011

PMR: “You assert opinions [SH: ‘LiGoOA cannot be mandated’]

Please describe how (and who) you propose to mandate (i.e. require) LiGoOA, that is, require authors to publish in Libre Gold OA Journals.

PMR:Another axiom [SH: ‘before we reach LiGoOA we have to reach GrGrOA, and we won?t reach it by over-reaching: GrGrOA will simply inherit LiGoOA?s bigger obstacles’]”

Please describe how you propose to persuade authors who are not even providing GrGrOA to their articles, published in their journals of choice, for free, to pay instead to publish them in LiGoOA journals. (And then describe how you propose to mandate it, if they demur.)

PMR: “You and I differ as to what is formally allowable [with GrGrOA]

If it’s not “searching, downloading locally, reading, saving locally, data-crunching, printing off” as I said, then what is formally allowable with GrGrOA, by your lights?

Priorities and pragmatics

PMR:I don?t see why the amount of something alters the rate of growth

It doesn’t. It’s just that the rate of growth of Gold OA is way too slow. The current growth rate will not even reach 60% Gold OA before 2026, whereas Green OA mandates have been reaching 60% Green OA within two years of adoption for years now:

Poynder, Richard (2011) Open Access by Numbers, Open and Shut, 19 June 2011

PMR:Libre costs the reader nothing. Yes, we have a prisoner?s dilemma, or a transition process. I would argue that the final state of full Libre will cost less than the current toll-access. But we are in the land of opinions, not logic.”

It is the author who pays for Gold OA, not the reader. And it is the author who provides Gold OA, not the reader. So it is not a Prisoner’s Dilemma but an Escher Impossible Figure. Green OA mandates can cure the paralysis for Gratis Green OA, and this is a matter of evidence and logic, not opinion. What’s your alternative, for curing paralysis for Libre Gold OA?

PMR:I would urge funders to insist on Libre content

Good luck! But reality is that most funders don’t even insist on Gratis content yet. Might it not be better to start to try to succeed in urging them to insist on at least that, first?

PMR:authors to insist on financial support from either funders or their institutions

If authors want, and can provide Gratis Green OA for free (and don’t even bother to do it until/unless mandated), what leverage do they have with their funders (when research funds are already scarce) or with their institutions (whose spare funds are locked into subscriptions) — even if authors bother to insist at all on what they don’t even bother to do themselves for free?

PMR:libraries cancelling as many toll-journals as possible

Libraries are already cancelling as many toll journals as possible, but they can’t cancel the must-have ones until/unless their institutional users can get access to their contents some other way. That’s the Escher Impossible Figure (not a Prisoner’s Dilemma). And what will resolve it is mandating Green OA, which, once Green OA is universal, allows the libraries to cancel their subscriptions, releasing the institutional windfall savings to pay for a universal conversion to Gold (and Libre!) OA.

PMR:development of new and imaginative and lower-cost ways of publishing

Gold OA publishing — once all access-provision and archiving (and their costs) have been offloaded onto the worldwide network of Green OA institutional repositories — will already reduce the cost of publishing to just the cost of peer review. All it takes to see this is a little imagination (but for that, you have to be able to defer immediate gratification on Libre OA!).

PMR:Stevan has asserted [SH: ‘if we start with an objective of 100% OA? we need to start by backing green OA, which has a clear strategy?. Ultimately we want the same thing, but it?s how we get there, and how quickly? that really matters’] as an axiom for 10 years. I don?t agree. And as important, Gratis OA is no use to me, while continuing to legitimise the ownership of material inappropriately

But perhaps you’ll allow that Gratis OA may be of use to many other would-be users, in many fields — and that the fields for which Libre OA is more urgent than Gratis OA, if any, may be far fewer?

Stevan Harnad