A caricature of its own making

From the thread “A creature of its own making?” on GOAL (Global Open Access List).

Jean-Claude Gu├ędon: “Alicia Wise always speaks with a forked tongue! I wonder how much she is paid to practise this dubious art?”

Richard Poynder: “I am not aware that Alicia Wise has ever been anything other than polite to members of this list. It does not show open access in a good light that every time she posts to the list her comments generate the kind of response we see below.”

I wonder what is going on here? Why are we getting lessons in etiquette on GOAL rather than discussing OA matters of substance?

Yes, Alicia is paid to keep on talking Elsevier double-talk. Yes, she does it politely. That’s not the point. The point is that it is double-talk:

Alicia Wise: “All our authors… have both gold and green Open Access publishing options.”

What that means is:

You may either (1) pay
(always over and above what you pay for subscriptions overall, always heavily, and sometimes even doubly)
for (gold) OA
or else you may (2) wait

(for twelve or more months*)
for (green) OA.

That is indeed fork-tongued double-talk*: Say what sounds like one thing but mean another, and say it politely. (Why rile the ones you are duping?)

*Actually, it’s double-double-talk, and, as pointed out many times before, if Elsevier authors were sensible they would realize that they can provide immediate, unembargoed green OA if they wish, ignoring Elsevier’s never-ending attempts at updating their pseudo-legal double-talk to sound both permissive and prohibitive at the same time.

So, yes, Richard is right — and others (including myself: google ?harnad pogo?) have already said it time and time again in this self-same Forum — that Elsevier is not the only one to blame. There are the dupers (Elsevier) and the duped (universities and their researchers). We all know that.

But it is not a co-conspiracy — much as conspiratorial thinking comes in handy at lean times when there is nothing new to talk about.

So although the dupees have themselves to blame for allowing themselves to be duped, that does not put them on the same plane of culpability as the dupers. After all, it is the dupers who gain from the duping, and the dupees who lose, whether or not they have themselves to blame for falling for it.

Blaming the victim, as Richard does, below, also has a long pedigree in this Forum, but I will not rebut it again in detail. The short answer is that adopting effective Green OA mandates (rather than vilifying the victims for their foolishness) is the remedy for all the damage the victims have unwittingly allowed to be done them for so long.

And stop fussing about metrics. They too will sort themselves out completely once we have universally mandated (and provided) green OA.

Richard Poynder: “What Jean-Claude?s criticism of large publishers like Elsevier and Wiley omits is the role that the research community has played in their rise to power, a role that it continues to play. In fact, not only has the research community been complicit [emphasis added] in the rise and rise [sic] of the publishing oligarchy that Jean-Claude so deprecates, but one could argue that it created it ? i.e. this oligarchy is a creature of its own making.
    ”After all, it is the research community that funds these publishers, it is the research community that submits papers to these publishers (and signs over copyright in the process), and it is the research community that continues to venerate the brands (essentially a product of the impact factor) that allow these publishers to earn the high profits that Jean-Claude decries.
    ”And by now seeking to flip this oligarchy?s journals to OA the research community appears to be intent on perpetuating its power (and doubtless profits).
    ”One might therefore want to suggest that Jean-Claude?s animus is misdirected. [emphasis added]”

And so are Richard’s reproaches…

Your increasingly bored archivangelist,

Stevan Harnad