Immunizing Deposit Mandates From Publisher Embargoes On Open Access

Fred Friend (JISC) wrote:

Under your Plan B, what would stop publishers increasing the Closed Access embargo period to two years?

The question is a good one, a natural one, and a pertinent one:

(1) “Plan B” is a contingency plan, in case the Conyers Bill should defeat the current NIH OA Policy (i.e., “Plan A”).

(2) If the Conyers Bill were to pass, not only Plan A but all protection from publisher embargoes would be dead in the water.

(3) Plan B is hence designed to free the NIH Mandate from any dependence at all on publishers to decide when research (postprints) may be deposited.

(4) Plan B is to make all research postprints OA as soon as they can be, but to require that the actual deposit of all postprints in authors’ Institutional Repositories be made immediately upon acceptance for publication, and to rely on almost-OA (via the semi-automatic “email eprint request” Button) for deposits that for any reason cannot be made OA immediately.

(5) With Immediate-Deposit mandated universally, “Almost-OA” (via the Button) serves research and public needs almost as well as OA during any embargo period.

(6) Universal Deposit mandates, plus the resulting enormous growth in usage and impact via OA and Almost-OA, will make it harder and harder for publishers to justify embargoes, while at the same time making embargoes virtually ineffectual:

(7) Hence embargoes will die their natural and well-deserved deaths once universal Deposit (Plan B) is mandated, by all research institutions and funders, worldwide, paving the way for full, immediate OA.

(8) It is far less clear whether Plan A [Delayed, Post-Embargo Deposit] can or will be universally adopted, by all research institutions and funders, worldwide — nor whether, even if it were, it would ever lead to immediate-OA.

(9) Even with the Button, Delayed-Post-Embargo Mandates cannot provide immediate almost-OA. (NIH requires immediate “submission” but it is deposited — in PubMed Central — only after the embargo.)

(10) Hence it is in fact Plan A that locks in publisher embargoes, not Plan B!

Stevan Harnad
American Scientist Open Access Forum