More Fallout From Finch Folly: Springer Silliness

On Mon, Jun 17, 2013 at 3:42 PM, Didier PĂ©laprat wrote on GOAL:

Springer, which defined itself some months ago as a “green publisher” in an advertisement meeting to which they invited us (they call that “information” meeting) and did not ask any embargo for institutional open repositories (there was only an embargo for the repositories of funders with a mandate), now changed its policy (they call this a “new wording“) with a 12-month embargo for all Open repositories.

This is now displayed in Sherpa/Romeo. It was stated that this new policy was settled “in reaction to the US, Europe and RCUK policy”.

I figured out that this would make some “buzz”, but for the moment I did not see any reaction. Did you hear of one?



No buzz, because the change is inconsequential:

Authors may self-archive the author?s accepted manuscript of their articles on their own websites. Authors may also deposit this version of the article in any repository, provided it is only made publicly available 12 months after official publication or later.”

1. There is no difference between the authors’ “own websites” and their own institution’s “repository.”

Authors’ websites are sectors of their own institution’s diskspace, and their institutional repository is a sector of their own institution’s diskspace. Way back in 2003 U. Southampton had already laid this nonsensical pseudo-legal distinction to rest pre-emptively by formally declaring their authors’ sector of their institutional repository their personal website:

3e. Copyright agreements may state that eprints can be archived on your personal homepage. As far as publishers are concerned, the EPrint Archive is a part of the Department’s infrastructure for your personal homepage.

2. As to institution-external OA repositories, many green publishers try to forbid them, but this too is futile nonsense: External repositories can simply link to the full-text in the institutional repository.

Indeed this has always been the main reason I have been strongly advocating for years that self-archiving mandates should always stipulate institutional deposit rather than institution-external deposit. (Springer or any publisher has delusions, however, if they think any of their pseudo-legal double-talk can get physicists who have been self-archiving directly in Arxiv for over two decades to change their ways!)

3. But, yes, Finch/RCUK’s persistence in its foolish, thoughtless and heedless policy is indeed having its perverse consequences, exactly as predicted, in the form of more and more of this formalistic FUD from publishers regarding Green OA embargoes.

Fortunately, HEFCE/REF has taken heed. If their proposed immediate-(institutional)-deposit mandate is adopted, not only is all this publisher FUD mooted, but it increases the likelihood that other OA mandates. too, will be upgraded to HEFCE’s date-stamped immediate-deposit as the mechanism for submitting articles to institutional research performance review or national research assessment.

4. If a publisher says you may self-archive without embargo if you do it voluntarily, but not if your funder requires you to do it: Do it, and, if ever asked, say, hand on heart, “I did it voluntarily.”

This ploy, which Springer too seems to have borrowed from Elsevier, consisting of pseudo-legal double-talk implying that
“you may deposit immediately if you needn’t, but not if you must” is pure FUD and can and should be completely ignored. (Any author foolish enough to be taken in by such double-talk deserves all the needless usage and impact losses they will get!)

If there’s to be “buzz,” let the facts and contingencies at least be got straight!


Off-line query from [identity removed]:

“This email expresses my current confusion about green open access and Springer. Forgive my concreteness, but I don?t ?get it.? I now self-archive my publications on sites such as ResearchGate and academia.edu.

“I simply don?t understand the Springer mandate! Can you refer me to some text somewhere which expresses all of this in really plain English?”

Springer says you can self-archive your final, refereed draft on your own website (which includes your institutional repository) immediately, without embargo.

Springer also says that in institution-external repositories you can only deposit it after a 12-month embargo.

This means, technically and formally, that ResearchGate or academia.edu can link to the full text in the institutional repository, but they cannot host the full text itself till after the 12-month embargo.

(In principle, RG/AE could also link to the Closed Access deposit during the embargo, thereby enhancing the scope of the institutional repository’s eprint-request Button.)

But the practical fact is that there’s nothing much that Springer or anyone can do about authors sharing their own papers before the embargo elapses through social sharing sites like RG or AE or others. Publishers’ only recourse is send individual take-down notices to RG/AE, with which RG/AE can duly comply — only to have the authors put them right back up again soon after.

OA is unstoppable, if authors want it, and they do. They’re all just being too slow about realizing it, and doing it (as the computer scientists and physicists saw and did 20 years ago, no questions asked).

That’s why the OA mandates are needed. And they’re coming…