The UK and the Netherlands — not coincidentally, the home bases of Big Publishing for refereed research — have issued coordinated statements in support of what cannot be described other than as a publishers’ nocturnal fantasy, in the face of the unstoppable worldwide clamour for Open Access.
Here are the components of the publishers’ nocturnal fantasy:
(1) Do whatever it takes to sustain or increase your current revenue streams.
(2) Your current revenue streams come mainly from subscriptions.
(3) Claim far and wide that everything has to be done to sustain publishers’ subscription revenue, otherwise publishing will be destroyed, and with it so will peer review, and research itself.
(4) With (3) as your justification, embargo Green OA self-archiving for as long as possible, and fight against Green OA self-archiving mandates — or make sure allowable embargoes are as long as possible.
(5) Profess a fervent commitment to a transition to full 100% immediate OA — but Gold OA on your terms, and on your timetable, in such a way as to ensure that you sustain or increase your current revenue streams.
(6) Offer hybrid Gold OA and promise not to “double-dip.” That will ensure that your subscription revenues segue seamlessly into Gold OA revenues while maintaining their current levels.
(7) To hasten the transition, offer even Bigger Big Deals to cover subscriptions at the national level (as you had always dreamt of doing) until all payment is safely converted to (Gold) OA.
(8) Encourage centralized, collective payment of Gold OA fees too, in even Bigger Deals, so Gold OA can continue to be treated as annual institutional — preferably national — payments rather than as piecewise payments per individual article.
(9) Lobby governments to mandate, subsidize and prefer Gold OA (preferably hybrid) rather than mandating Green OA
(10) Make sure Green OA is perceived as delayed OA (because of your embargoes!), so that only Gold OA can be immediate.
(11) Mobilize the minority OA advocates who are in a great hurry for re-use rights (CC-BY, text-mining, republication) to support you in your promotion of Gold OA and demotion and embargoing of Green OA.
(12) Cross your fingers and hope that the research community will be gullible enough to buy it all.
There is, however, a compeletely effective prophylactic against this publisher fantasy (but it has to be adopted by the research community, because British and Dutch Ministers are apparently too susceptible to the publishing lobby):
(a) Research funders and institutions worldwide all adopt an immediate-deposit mandate, requiring, as a condition of funding, employment and evaluation, that all researchers deposit their final, peer-reviewed drafts in their institutional repositories immediately upon acceptance for publication, regardless of whether they are published in a subscription journal or a Gold OA journal — and regardless of whether access to the deposit is made Green OA immediately or only after a publisher embargo.
(b) Do not mandate or designate any extra money to pay for Gold OA: let that come from the subscription cancellation savings — if and when Green OA actually releases institutions to cancel subscriptions.
(c) To tide over research access needs during any embargo, make sure to implement the institutional repository’s automated copy-request Button so that any user can request — and any author can provide — a single copy for research purposes with just one click each.
Now please read how fully the Dutch government fell for the publishing lobby’s nocturnal fantasy. (Tomorrow you will see the same from the UK.)
Here is a quick google translation of excerpts from Sander Dekker, Secretary of Education, Culture and Science, Netherlands on “Commitment to further developments in open access scientific publication“
Sander Dekker, Secretary of Education, Culture and Science, Netherlands:
“A clear choice in favour of Open Access publications; the transition process provides the necessary speed and shortens the transition period, thus avoiding unnecessary additional costs… .
“The Green road is the form in which the author publishes an article in a journal. In addition, the author deposits a version of the article in Open Access electronic archive ( repository ). There are both discipline-based and university-based repositories. The system of paid subscriptions to journals continues. Publishers often negotiate embargo periods that can range from several months to several years before an article can be made OA through a repository. During the embargo period, only the paid version of the journal accessible. This constitutes a source of revenue for publishers. Moreover, there are publisher restrictions on the version of an article in the repository. Sometimes this may only be the version that has not yet been peer reviewd…
“Netherlands is in a special position because it has a number of major scientific publishers within its borders. That makes dialogue between science and the Dutch publishing possible…
“In the UK, a national committee chaired by Dame Janet Finch laid the foundation for the Open Access policy of the United Kingdom. The report of the Commission Finch serves as a solid standard . It contains a thorough analysis of developments and progress. The Committee notes that due to the major changes it is imperative that all players act together and she advises to achieve by focusing on Open Access journals. Transition Following this advice, the British government earmarked 10 million pounds for Open Access. The initial signs indicate that this has not led to an accelerated transition , but rather a continuation of the transition…
“The transition to the Golden Road: My preference is for Open Access publishing in journals that make their articles accessible free, the Golden road. My aim is to achieve OA within ten years: a full transition to Open Access Golden Road by 2024. to achieve this, at least 60 percent of the scientific publications Open Access should be available in about five years through the Gold OA journals…
“The real change can only be achieved if we work together at the international level with National cooperation and coordination equally important…
“Open Access in the coming years: Dutch universities, KNAW and NWO should give priority to Open Access Golden road…
“While the publishers have not yet made the transition to Open Access Golden road I prefer hybrid Open Access, where the institution pays for publication in a traditional journal…
“For disciplines where the potential for Gold Open Access journals is still limited, it is possible to provide OA via the Green road…
“1. Consultation with likeminded countries: I will get in touch with a number of like-minded countries to promote and acceleration Open Access. I refer primarily to the United Kingdom and Germany . This is because there are a large number of important commercial and academic publishers in the Netherlands and in these two countries i. In addition, Denmark, Finland, Belgium and France are leading like-minded countries…
“2. Create conditions under which open access possible: An important momentum in the transition to Open Access publications when the scientific organizations and major scientific publishers agree on subscriptions to scientific journals . This ‘big deals’ always apply for some years?.”
“3. reports: If the parties concerned are not sufficiently committed , or developments in insufficient progress , the minister and I imagine that the obligation to publish Gold OA to be included in the Law on Higher Education in 2016 Open Access and Research Act (WHW )?.”
Sander Dekker, Secretary of Education, Culture and Science, Netherlands