Dutch Echoes of Finch: Fool’s Gold vs. Fair Gold

Wouter Gerritsma, wrote in GOAL:

For two working groups of the Dutch University libraries I was asked to make a calculation for the costs of a 100% Gold open access model. It will only costs 10.5 million euro extra was my conclusion. Blogged at http://wowter.net/2014/03/05/costs-going-gold-netherlands/

Unless I have misunderstand, this “10.5 million euro extra? for Dutch University Libraries means 10.5 million euro extra over and above what Dutch University Libraries are paying for subscriptions (34 million euros).

In other words, for a surcharge of 10.5 million dollars, Dutch University libraries can purchase gold OA for Dutch research output (assuming that suitable gold OA journals exist for all Dutch research output, and that all Dutch researchers are willing to publish in them).

But, at the same time, Dutch University libraries also have to continue to pay to subscribe to the research input from all other universities and research institutions worldwide, as long as the latter publish in subscription-based journals rather than gold OA journals (or are unwilling or unable to pay for gold OA).

This pre-emptive double-payment for gold OA I have come to call ?Fool?s Gold.”

What is being left out of this calculation, of course, is that the Netherlands, like all countries, can have OA at no extra cost at all by mandating green OA self-archiving of all of its research output in Dutch universities? institutional repositories.

In other words, Wouter’s calculations sound like a response to Sander Dekker’s Dutch echo of the UK Finch Committee recommendations to pay extra for gold OA instead of just mandating green OA.

Such recommendations originate, not coincidentally, from the two countries with the heaviest concentration of the journal publishing industry, and hence the journal publishing industry lobby, as repeatedly voiced in the Netherlands by Sander Dekker, Netherlands State Secretary for the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science.

All the published objections to the Finch recommendations would apply to Dekker?s Dutch recommendations if they were ever to become a policy (mandate). Fortunately they are not mandatory and can and should be ignored in favor of mandating green OA, as the European Commission has done. The UK mandate will also (it is to be hoped) shortly shored up with an immediate-deposit requirement from HEFCE.

To understand why green OA needs to be mandated first, and how it will first provide OA, and then make subscriptions unsustainable, inducing publishers to cut costs and convert to Fair Gold OA at an affordable, sustainable price by offloading all archiving and access provision onto the worldwide network of mandatory green OA institutional repositories, see:

Harnad, S. (2010) No-Fault Peer Review Charges: The Price of Selectivity Need Not Be Access Denied or Delayed. D-Lib Magazine 16 (7/8).

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).

Wouter Gerritsma replied:

Yes we could have green with the current subscription models and repository infrastructure. But still some important players don?t allow green (Wiley, Nature and ACS to mention a few)
But all I wanted to do, and was requested to do, to make a calculation to see what it would cost if our junior minister Sander Dekker would get what he wanted. Complete Gold OA for the Netherlands.
It would cost us 43 instead of 34 million euro.
Currently we are spending already 34 (subscriptions) plus 4 million (OA APC). So we are rapidly falling into a trap of paying twice http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/impactofsocialsciences/2014/01/30/paying-twice-or-paying-thrice-brienza/


Yes, of course I knew that you were only the messenger, and doing the calculation! It is the pressure from Sander Dekker (or, rather, from those who are putting the pressure on Sander Dekker!) that is behind the foolish idea of increasing the already overstretched Dutch research publication budget by 30% from 34M euros for subscriptions to 43M by adding payment for pre-emptive, over-priced, double-paid Fool’s Gold OA!

But there is a solution for green OA embargoes: In the case of Elsevier, they’re no problem, because Elsevier does not have a green OA embargo — just a lot of empty, non-binding pseudo-legalistic double-talk about authors retaining the right to self-archive unembargoed “except if they are required [mandated] to exercise that retained right.” 

That is of course patent nonsense. But for those timid authors who don’t realize it, they can still be mandated to deposit the final refereed draft of their articles in their IR immediately upon acceptance for publication, but to keep it under “Closed Access” if they wish to comply with an embargo. The author can then provide individual access on a case-by-case basis: Users click the IR’s eprint-request Button to request an individual copy, and the author can then comply with the request with one click.

Needless extra clicks for the (timid) author, but extra access too, and extra usage, uptake, and impact. (And a lot better than paying a needless extra 10M!)

And of course the result after a few years of mandatory immediate deposit, providing 60% immediate OA for the unembargoed deposits and 40% Button-mediated access will be that embargoes will quietly dies their inevitable, well-deserved deaths, as more and more authors provide immediate OA.

Green OA embargoes, in other words, are illusory impediments, bits of FUD to confound timid authors. No sensible person on the planet believes they have any chance of actually holding back the Green OA dam (something the citizens of the Netherlands should understand!).

Best wishes,