Mandate deposit in Institutional Repositories and they will solve the access problem: Reply to M Taylor in LSE

            All quotes are from:
Institutional repositories have work to do if they?re going to solve the access problem” by Mike Taylor [MT] LSE Impact of Social Sciences 2013


MT: “[Green OA] necessarily creates two classes of papers: author?s draft and publishers? final versions.?

Actually what Green OA does is provide access to the author?s draft for those who don?t have access to the publisher?s final version. The difference between night and day for those who have no access at all.

No ?class? differences. Just a remedy for the difference between the Haves and the Have-Nots.

MT: “pagination will differ ? which means you can?t cite page-numbers reliably.?

Negligible loss. Cite by section heading and paragraph number. (Page numbers are obsolescent anyway.)

MT: “I have a paper in press now for which a whole additional figure? was added at the proofing stage.?

Add the figure to your author?s draft.

(As Green grows, authors will learn to be more attentive about the needs of the Have-Nots among their potential users in a Green world: Scholarly practice will adapt to the medium, as it always does.)

MT: “[Green OA] creates two classes of researchers? those privileged few who have the ?proper? papers and an underclass who have only manuscripts?. Gold OA solves this problem? Green doesn?t.?

Gold solves this pseudo-problem at a hefty price, not just in terms of having to double-pay Gold fees out of scarce research funds, over and above existing subscription fees (which already pay for Green), but also in terms of restrictions on authors? free choice of journal: a forced choice based on journal economic model instead of journal quality and track-record.

The RCUK Gold-preference mandate also encourages publishers to offer hybrid Gold OA and to extend embargoes on Green OA beyond RCUK limits (to force RCUK authors to pick and pay for Gold), thereby making it gratuitously harder for Have-Not nations (who cannot afford Gold) to mandate and provide Green. Pre-emptive Gold also locks-in journals? current revenues and modus operandi ? and does so even if journals offer a full subscription rebate on all Gold OA revenue.

Mandatory Gold also engenders author resentment and resistance.

In contrast, mandatory Green (if effectively mandated, with compliance verification and as an eligibility condition for research evaluation, as HEFCE has proposed for REF) provides OA for the Have-Nots (about 60% immediate-OA and about 40% Button-mediated Almost-OA for embargoed deposits) at no extra cost, with no constraint on authors? free choice of journals.

Again, no ?class? differences. Just a remedy for the difference between the Haves and the Have-Nots.

MT: “Green OA is[n’t] cheaper than Gold. ?the cost to the world of a paywalled paper (aggregated across all subscriptions) is about $5333. ?no reason to think that will change under the Green model??

There is indeed reason. It?s through the (hybrid) Gold model — which RCUK is perversely reinforcing — that current overall publisher revenues will be locked in (along with double-dipping too, for sure). Even if all Gold payment is given back as a subscription rebate, the total amount paid to publishers remains unchanged.

In contrast, universal Green will force cost-cutting and downsizing by making subscriptions unsustainable:


Harnad, Stevan (2007) The Green Road to Open Access: A Leveraged Transition. In, Anna, Gacs (ed.) The Culture of Periodicals from the Perspective of the Electronic Age. L?Harmattan, 99-105. ABSTRACT: What the research community needs, urgently, is free online access (Open Access, OA) to its own peer-reviewed research output. Researchers can provide that in two ways: by publishing their articles in OA journals (Gold OA) or by continuing to publish in non-OA journals and self-archiving their final peer-reviewed drafts in their own OA Institutional Repositories (Green OA). OA self-archiving, once it is mandated by research institutions and funders, can reliably generate 100% Green OA. Gold OA requires journals to convert to OA publishing (which is not in the hands of the research community) and it also requires the funds to cover the Gold OA publication costs. With 100% Green OA, the research community?s access and impact problems are already solved. If and when 100% Green OA should cause significant cancellation pressure (no one knows whether or when that will happen, because OA Green grows anarchically, article by article, not journal by journal) then the cancellation pressure will cause cost-cutting, downsizing and eventually a leveraged transition to OA (Gold) publishing on the part of journals. As subscription revenues shrink, institutional windfall savings from cancellations grow. If and when journal subscriptions become unsustainable, per-article publishing costs will be low enough, and institutional savings will be high enough to cover them, because publishing will have downsized to just peer-review service provision alone, offloading text-generation onto authors and access-provision and archiving onto the global network of OA Institutional Repositories. Green OA will have leveraged a transition to Gold OA.


MT: “By contrast, even the publisher-influenced Finch estimates? almost exactly half of what we pay by the subscription model.?

What those rosy estimates (based on a fantasy of universal conversion of publishers to pure Gold, under pressure from the RCUK mandate!) overlook is the double-payment that must continue while UK subscriptions remain the only way for UK institutional users to access subscription content.

MT: “the true cost of Gold OA is much, much less? half of all Gold OA articles are published at no cost to the author and that the average APC of the other half is about one twelfth of the cost for a paywalled article?

Yes indeed, but that cost-free Gold half is unfortunately not the mainstream international journals that are really at issue in all this, for UK authors and users. And it?s that half that is spuriously lowering the average price of APCs well below what the UK Must-Have journals are charging, especially for hybrid Gold.

Mike, I think you too will eventually come to realize that the only way to attain what we both want ? which, is not just embargoed Gratis Green, but an end of embargoes, as much Libre OA as users need and researchers want to provide, license reform, publishing reform, and Gold OA at a fair, affordable, sustainable price ? is by first taking the compromise step of universally mandating immediate deposit of the author?s draft in the author?s institutional repository, and then letting Nature take its course.

The only thing standing between us and what we all want is keystrokes. Until we mandate those keystrokes, there will be little OA of any sort: Gratis or Libre, Green or Gold, immediate or embargoed.

MT: “there is nothing intrinsic to Green OA that means embargoes must be in place. It?s perfectly possible, and manifestly desirable, that no-embargo Green-OA mandates should be enacted, requiring that authors? final manuscripts become available immediately on publication. But for whatever historical reasons (and I admit I find this baffling) there are few or no Green-OA mandates that do this. Even the best of them seem to allow a six-month delay; twelve months is not uncommon?

Let me unbaffle you then, Mike:

It?s pushback from publishers, who then intimidate authors as well as institutional lawyers ? while also lobbying and intimidating politicians. The result is that no one dares mandate un-embargoed Gratis Green (let alone unembargoed Libre Green), and most authors wouldn?t dare provide it even if it were mandated.

(And note that the Harvard-style “rights-retention” mandates not only allow author opt-outs [waivers], which means they are not really mandates at all, but — as we will shortly be reporting — they also lead (so far) to exceedingly low deposit rates — 4% at Harvard and 28.5% at MIT, which is still below the global spontaneous un-mandated baseline self-archiving rate of about 30%, and, paradoxically, amounts to only half of both MIT’s and Harvard’s own remarkably high self-archiving rate of over 60%: That means only half of the papers that MIT authors self-archive free for all on the Web are deposited in MIT’s IR and only 1/15th in the case of Harvard!)

Solution: mandate immediate deposit (no exceptions, no opt-outs, no waivers) and allow (minimal) embargoes on the allowable length of the embargo on access to the deposit. (The “ID/OA mandate.”)

That will ensure that the Have-Nots at least gain 60% immediate OA + 40% Almost-OA (Button-mediated).

And then let Nature take its course. Once the keystrokes are being universally done, all you seek, Mike, will not be far behind.

But it will take much longer if we delay (embargo!) the universal adoption of the ID/OA compromise mandate by over-reaching instead for what is not within reach, rather than first grasping what is already fully within reach.

That is called letting the ?best? get in the way of the better. And in advocating that, you are playing into the hands of the publisher lobby, which is also using embargoes (of their own making) along with license restrictions as an excuse for delaying the inevitable transition to OA as long as possible, and making sure it only happens on their terms, preserving their current revenue streams and modus operandi.

MT: “Similarly, there is no intrinsic reason why Green OA should mean non-open licences and Gold OA should mean truly open (BOAI-compliant) open access. And yet history has brought us to a point where is often how things are.?

Once again: Grasp first what is within immediate reach and the rest will come. Join Finch instead, in deprecating Green, and you will get next to nothing.

MT: “Many institutions don?t even have an IR; or if they do it doesn?t work.?

Most research-active institutions in the UK (and Europe, and the US and Canada and Australia) already have an IR, but it doesn?t ?work? without an (effective) Green OA mandate from funders and institutions.

Any institution is a just piece of free software, some space on a server and some sysad start-up time away from having an IR.

MT: “Many scholars aren?t associated with an institution and so don?t know where they should deposit their manuscripts.?

Few researchers are unaffiliated, but for them there is, for example, OpenDepot — which is still just as empty as IRs ? for want of mandates…

MT: “The use of IRs involves an institution-by-institution fragmentation, with different user interfaces, policies, etc.?

Most IRs are highly interoperable. Mandate Green OA and they will be even more so.

(And distributed local deposit with central harvesting is not ?fragmentation?: it?s the way of the Web! No one deposits directly in Google. The rest is down to metadata, interoperablity, and harvesting. But there?s no incentive to enrich those while the OA content itself is still so impoverished ? for lack of mandates.)

MT: “For whatever reasons, many scholars do not bother to deposit their manuscripts in institution repositories.?

You have just casually mentioned OA?s #1 problem for the past 20 years!

But what you forget to say is that even fewer scholars bother to publish in a Gold OA journal.

(With Green deposit [ID/OA], the only deterrent is keystrokes; but with Gold OA there?s price and journal-choice restrictions as further deterrents.)

The remedy is of course mandates. But mandates have to be adopted, and complied with. And that?s why they have to have all the parameters you are lamenting: Gratis, Green, author draft, embargoed. That?s the immediately reachable path of least resistance for mandate adoption and compliance.

But you have set aside thinking of what you?d ideally like to have right away, and think practically about how to get it, not spurning approximations and compromises only to end up with next to nothing.

MT: “Even when mandates are in place, compliance is often miserable, to the point where Peter Suber considers the 80% NIH compliance rate as ?respectable?. It really isn?t. 100% is acceptable; 99% is respectable.?

There it is again: Reality for the last 20 years has been at 10-40% OA, and you are dismissing as ?miserable? a tried and proven means of generating at least 80%!

I don?t wish my 20 miserable years trying to reach OA on anyone, but maybe a dose would not do you any harm, Mike, to help you appreciate the difference between principled armchair wish-lists and practical delivery.

We don?t have another decade to waste on ineffectual over-reaching. (And that?s what?s been holding OA up for the past two decades too.)

(Your questions here are almost all a litany of repetition of the 38+ causes of Zeno?s Paralysis in this 15-year-old list. I could almost answer them by number!)

MT: “Many IRs have abject search facilities, often for example lacking the ability to restrict searches to papers that are actually available.?

No one (except maybe institutional administrators and window-shopping prospective-students or staff) searches at the IR level!

IR metadata (and/or full-texts) are harvested (or imported/exported) at the central harvester/search-engine level (Scirus, BASE, MS Academic Search, Google Scholar) and that?s the level at which they are searched.

The central harvester-level search capabilities can be enriched greatly, and they will be, but there?s absolutely no point doing that now, with the sparse OA content that there is in IRs (or in any repository) today. Without mandates to provide that content, nuclear-powered search (and text-mining) capabilities would be spinning wheels.

(And in case you imagine that the solution is direct deposit in institution-external repositories: far from it. That just makes the problem of mandating OA worse, forcing authors to deposit willy-nilly in institution-external repositories ? Arxiv, PMC, EuroPMC, etc. ? and prevents institutions from being able to monitor compliance with deposit mandates, whether institutional or funder mandates.)

MT: “Many IRs impose unnecessary restrictions on the use of the materials they contain: for example, Bath?s repo prohibits further redistribution.?

Most IRs are sensible (though they all make craven ? and sometimes excess ? efforts to comply with publisher copyright conditions and embargoes).

Once Green OA mandates become sufficiently widespread, IRs will get their acts together. For now, the essential thing is to get papers deposited. Once that is being done, globally, everything else we seek will come, and probably surprisingly quickly.

But not if we continue to carp at minor details like Bath?s overzealousness, as if they were symptoms of ineffectiveness of the Green mandate strategy. They are not. They are simply symptoms of ineffective institutional policy, easily fixed under pressure from other IRs that are doing it right.

MT: “There is no central point for searching all IRs (at least not one that is half-decent; I know about OAIster).?

As above: IR metadata (and/or full-texts) are harvested (or imported/exported) at the central harvester/search-engine level (Scirus, BASE, MS Academic Search, Google Scholar) and that?s the level at which they are searched.

The central harvester-level search capabilities can be enriched greatly, and they will be, but there?s absolutely no point doing that now, with the sparse OA content that there is in IRs (or in any repository) today.

Without effective mandates to fill the IRs, central search is not much more ?decent? than IR-level search: the OA content is simply far too sparse.

MT: “The quality of metadata within most IRs [is] variable at best?

Without mandates to provide the content (and motivate the metadata enrichment) rich metadata on impoverished content are no help.

MT: “Use of metadata across IRs is inconsistent — hence many of the problems that render OAIster near-useless.?

Scirus, BASE, MS Academic Search, Google Scholar and OAIster are all equally useless without the full-text content. The motivation to enrich and conform the IR metadata will grow with the content, not just as an end in itself.

MT: “Could these issues be addressed? Yes, probably; but ten years have unfortunately not done much to resolve them, so I don?t feel all that confident that the next ten will.?

There is in reality only one issue: Getting the keystrokes to be mandated (and hence done). That?s what?s held us up for 20 years, while we ran off in every direction except the one that would get us to our goal.

It is time to pool efforts toward getting institutions and funders worldwide to adopt the Green OA mandates that will get us there. For that we have to stop focussing on fixing frills that are useless until and unless we first get the content deposited, and stop insisting on organic haute cuisine before we have even taken care of the famine of the Have-Nots.

?I have a feeling that when Posterity looks back at the last decade of the 2nd A.D. millennium of scholarly and scientific research on our planet, it may chuckle at us?. [T[here is[n’t] any doubt in anyone?s mind as to what the optimal and inevitable outcome of all this will be: The Give-Away literature will be free at last online, in one global, interlinked virtual library, and its QC/C expenses will be paid for up-front, out of the S/L/P savings. The only question is: When? This piece is written in the hope of wiping the potential smirk off Posterity?s face by persuading the academic cavalry, now that they have been led to the waters of self-archiving, that they should just go ahead and drink!?

Harnad, S. (1999) Free at Last: The Future of Peer-Reviewed Journals. D-Lib Magazine 5(12) December 1999