Anticipation and Antidotes for Publisher Back-Pedalling on Green OA

On Tue, May 26, 2015 at 1:08 AM, Michael Eisen posted to the Global Open Access List (GOAL):

Stevan. I hate to say I told you so, but …. at the Budapest meeting years ago it was pointed out repeatedly that once green OA actually became a threat to publishers, they would no longer look so kindly on it. It took a while, but the inevitable has now happened. Green OA that relied on publishers to peer review papers + subscriptions to pay for them, but somehow also allowed them to be made freely available, was never sustainable. If you want OA you have to either fund publishers by some other means (subsidies, APCs) or wean yourself from that which they provide (journal branding). Parasitism only works so long as it is not too painful to the host. It’s a testament to a lot of hard work from green OA advocates that it has become a threat to Elsevier. But the way forward is not to get them to reverse course, but to look past them to a future that is free of subscription journals.

Also, I don’t view CC-BY-NC-ND as a victory as the NC part is there to make sure that no commercial entity – including, somewhat ironically, PLOS – can use the articles to actually do anything. So this license makes these articles definitively non open access. -Mike

Mike, I will respond more fully on your blog:

To reply briefly here:

1. The publisher back-pedalling and OA embargoes were anticipated. That?s why the copy-request Button was created to provide access during any embargo already nearly 10 years ago, long before Elsevier and Springer began back-pedalling; and why I kept posting an ongoing tally across the years of publishers that were still on the “side of the angels” or had back-pedalled.

2. Immediate-deposit mandates plus the Button, once adopted universally, will lead unstoppably to 100% OA, and almost as quickly as if there were no publisher OA embargoes. (It is also not that easy to back-pedal to embargoes after a publisher has agreed to immediate Green OA for over 10 years.)

3. For a ?way forward,? it is not enough to ?look past the present to the future?: one must provide a demonstrably viable transition scenario to get us there from here.

4. Green OA, mandated by institutions and funders, is a demonstrably viable transition scenario, and underway worldwide.

5. Offering paid-Gold OA journals as an alternative and then waiting for all authors to switch is not a viable transition sceario, for the reasons I described again in response to √Čric Archambault: multiple journals, multiple subscribing institutions, ongoing institutional access needs, no coherent global ?flip? strategy, hence local double-payment (i.e., subscription fees for incoming institutional access to other institutions’ output plus Gold publication fees for providing OA to outgoing institutional published output) while funds are still stretched to the limit paying for subscriptions that remain uncancellable ? until and unless other institutions’ output is made accessible by another means (Green OA).

6. That other means is 4, above. The resulting transition scenario was presented implicitly in 1994, 1998 and 2000, and has since been described explicitly many times, starting in 2001, with updates in 2007, 2010, 2013, 2014, and 2015, keeping pace with ongoing mandate and embargo developments.

7. An article that is freely accessible to all online under CC-BY-NC-ND is most definitely OA ? Gratis OA, to be exact.

8. For the reasons I have likewise described many times before, the transition scenario is to mandate Gratis Green OA (together with the Button, for embargoed deposits) universally. That universal Green Gratis OA will in turn make subscriptions cancellable, hence unsustainable, which will in turn force publishers to downsize to affordable, sustainable Fair-Gold Libre OA (CC-BY), paid for out of a fraction of the institutional subscription cancellation savings. The worldwide network of mandated Green OA repositories will do the access-provision and archiving.

9. It is a bit disappointing to hear an OA advocate characterize Green OA as parasitic on publishers, when OA?s fundamental rationale has been that publishers are parasitic on researchers and referees’ work as well as its public funding. But perhaps when the OA advocate is a publisher, the motivation changes?