The Mechanics Behind the Magic

I like Scott Pluchak’s posting. We share a vision…

If you’re interested in some of the objective evidence on the adoption rate (still too slow) and the effectiveness (quite remarkable, though depending on mandate-type) of OA self-archiving mandates, have a look at ROARMAP and the references below.

(You might also have heard of the US OSTP, EU Horizon2020 and UK HEFCE/REF2020 mandates, soon to come.)

Scott is certainly right that my thinking has been magical:

1. In 1994: I thought it would be enough to just just say “self-archive” and next day all researchers on the planet would do it. (Next day came, and nothing happened.)

2. It was magical thinking also to create CogPrints in 1997, in case researchers in my field weren’t self-archiving because they didn’t have a central place to self-archive (no success).

3. Magical thought too, that creating EPrints in 2000 (from which DSpace too emerged) — so that all institutions could create their own OA repositories — would do the trick (no dice).

4. A series of studies inspired by Lawrence 2001 — demonstrating that OA increases citations — made no significant difference either.

5. But then in 2003, things began to pick up, with the adoption of the very first Green OA mandate (Southampton ECS), followed by several more (notably QUT in Australia and U Minho in Portugal). ROARMAP launched, but adoptions were still just a trickle: decidedly unmagical.

6. Then in 2004 the UK Select Committee recommended that all UK institutions and funders mandate Green OA. And the trickle became a trend — but still a very sluggish one. And most of the mandates were weak, ineffective ones. It would have taken magic to make them work.

7. So in 2006, Peter Suber and I independently proposed the immediate-deposit/optional-access mandate (ID/OA) (Peter called it the “dual-deposit-release” mandate), Southampton designed the automated request-a-copy Button for EPrints and Eloy Rodrigues designed its counterpart for DSpace. (Perhaps it was still magical thinking to imagine they would work — or would even be adopted.)

8. But then in 2007, Bernard Rentier, rector of the University of Liège, became the first to adopt the ID/OA mandate and the Button.

9. We then waited a few years to see whether it would work.

10. And by 2010 it became evident that ID/OA + Button was working, and generating over 80% OA compared to about 30% for the weaker mandates and even less without mandates. And no magic was needed.

Meanwhile, Gold OA had been making some headway too, but even more slowly than Green, because it required authors to switch journals and because it cost them extra money; and in 2013 the economist John Houghton (in collaboration with publishing consultant Alma Swan) described exactly why Green needed to come first.

Is it magical to think the adoption of ID/OA + Button will become universal in the next few years? Perhaps. But let’s be empirical, and wait for the evidence.

Meanwhile, I — and many others — will keep “tirelessly trotting out the facts” rather than just waiting passively? And does 110 really sound all that hedgehoggy to you? Seems more foxy to me (and a fox who is more of a pragmatist than just a preacher, polemicist or prestidigitator). — But then I love both of those little creatures (the foxes and the hedgehogs), and would never either wear their hides or eat their flesh, any more than I would those of any other feeling creature (including pragmatists, preachers, polemicists and prestidigitators). And that’s a lot bigger and more important thing than OA…

Gargouri, Y., Larivière, V., & Harnad, S. (2013) Ten-year Analysis of University of Minho Green OA Self-Archiving Mandate (in E Rodrigues, Ed. title to come)

Gargouri, Y, Lariviere, V, Gingras, Y, Brody, T, Carr, L and Harnad, S (2012b) Testing the Finch Hypothesis on Green OA Mandate Ineffectiveness. In Open Access Week 2012

Hitchcock, S. (2013) The effect of open access and downloads (‘hits’) on citation impact: a bibliography of studies.

Houghton, J. & Swan, A. (2013) Planting the Green Seeds for a Golden Harvest: Comments and Clarifications on “Going for Gold”. D-Lib Magazine 19 (1/2).

Rentier, B., & Thirion, P. (2011). The Liège ORBi model: Mandatory policy without rights retention but linked to assessment processes.

Sale, A., Couture, M., Rodrigues, E., Carr, L. & Harnad, S. (2012) Open Access Mandates and the “Fair Dealing” Button. In: Dynamic Fair Dealing: Creating Canadian Culture Online (Rosemary J. Coombe & Darren Wershler, Eds.)