NIH issued the final version of its public access policy, such as it is. Beyond that, discussions and resolutions concerning open access continue, as do articles and policy statements. Nothing breathtaking to report, and those of you who subscribe to the SPARC Open Access Newsletter (SOAN) may already know all of this.
SOAN 83 (March 2, 2005) covered “the final version of the NIH public-access policy” as its lead story. As noted in C&I 5:4, Peter Suber already discussed what he expected that final policy to be. He hoped that some of NIH’s concessions to publishers would be rolled back, but they weren’t.
Suber notes a few key points:
Ø The policy took effect on May 2—for all outstanding NIH grants, not just new ones. “That means that we can expect to see some articles based on NIH-funded research show up in PubMed Central (PMC) fairly soon after May 2, even if the rate of deposit is initially slow.”
Ø The policy’s three purposes are to create a stable archive of peer-reviewed research publications, secure a searchable compendium of those publications, and make published results of NIH research more readily accessible.
Ø NIH asks for an electronic version of the author’s final manuscript (which may or may not include a journal’s copy-editing changes) and PMC will accept corrections and necessary revisions. PMC will also cheerfully accept the publisher’s final version, which will supersede the author’s final version—and will accept that before the author’s original timing.
Ø While the permissible delay after publication has gone from six to 12 months, NIH will exhort authors to choose the shortest possible delay: “Posting for public accessibility through PMC is requested and strongly encouraged as soon as possible…”
Ø NIH offers language for authors to include in copyright agreements—but also believes that it could claim the right to deposit articles in PMC under the government-purpose license in the Code of Federal Regulations.
Ø There are no penalties for non-deposit—but some publishers still decry the policy, saying that a “request” from a funding agency is intrinsically coercive. As Suber notes, it may not be any more coercive than the journal’s request to delay PMC deposit. “There is dangerous potential in this policy to create painful and career-jeopardizing dilemmas for researchers who will have to choose between snubbing their funder and snubbing their publisher.” Some journal publishers have already said that they’ll accept their authors’ decisions on deposit of NIH-funded papers.
Ø The flexibility offered by NIH is explicitly intended to make life easy for publishers more than for authors.
Ø “The ‘final’ version of the policy is not really final.”
Ø PMC content will be free to everyone, not just U.S. taxpayers.
The NIH policy is nowhere near what it could or should have been—but it is a significant precedent. Suber suggests future steps: Lobby to make the request a requirement (with no more than a six-month delay), get Congress to monitor compliance, get other funding agencies to adopt similar but better policies, encourage journals to allow immediate release.
SPARC sent its directors a message on the NIH policy on February 25, 2005. The message notes that the NIH policy may raise questions and create concerns on campus and suggests that the library has an opportunity to provide information, offer direction, and advocate for increased access. Suggested actions include providing a link to the NIH policy page on the library’s scholarly communications page (www.nih. gov/about/publicaccess/), contacting leaders of appropriate departments to make sure they know about the policy and help them prepare, and contact others about the benefits of early deposits.
The message includes a set of key points, some tailored to the academic community—e.g., “The policy applies only to peer-reviewed articles…not to letters to the editor, editorials, or other submitted materials” and “The policy is not a mandate regarding how and where to publish research articles.”
Was AAP/PSP mollified by the substantial weakening of the NIH policy? It’s hard to say, but that group issued a March 2, 2005 press release that stressed the “millions of dollars” publishers invest “to support peer review, editing, abstracting, indexing, distribution, archiving, searching, access, and innovation. The NIH must avoid duplicating those efforts—otherwise taxpayers will truly ‘pay twice’ for redundant versions of information or imitative platforms and tools.” And, later, this gem:
As the NIH goes forward with its plan, it must be careful to distinguish a professional and scholarly publishing environment from one in which “free” access is subsidized through regulation. NIH fostering immediate free public access to content would risk undermining free market investments and models that have proven essential to authors and researchers.
These are interesting quotations. Almost all peer review is unpaid effort (with some exceptions, as in some economics journals). Abstracting, indexing, searching, and access are typically the roles of third parties (such as PubMed), not journal publishers themselves (or at least not entirely journal publishers). Publishers have not historically claimed to provide guaranteed archival services—and there’s a lot of question as to whether any private enterprise can make such a guarantee. As for taxpayers paying twice—I suppose it’s possible that biomedical journals never appear in more than one full-text aggregation likely to be held at a given institution, but that would make the field almost unique. The quoted paragraph is both a subtle assertion that government-funded research should not be freely available (although, if it is done in government labs, it can’t be copyrighted) and a blatant claim that the free market outweighs all other considerations.
Roy Rosenzweig, vice president of the Research Division of the American Historical Association, used the NIH policy as the basis for “Should historical scholarship be free?” in the April 2005 Perspectives (www.historians.org/Perspectives/issues/2005/0504/). It’s a fairly long and thoughtful article that offers a range of possible actions for historians interested in future access. Worth reading.
Andrew Richard Albanese wrote, “After a flawed policy, what’s next for librarians and open access?” in Library Journal (April 15, 2005). He recounts a Midwinter session on the NIH proposal, including a “star”—Sharon Terry, noting what she and her husband went through to access medical literature regarding their children’s cancer. He notes the weakened final policy—and then goes on to quote Stevan Harnad, who—as usual—treats any concerns than his One Single Answer as “muddled” and as “bungling.” After all, librarians worry about being able to afford any form of access. But Harnad doesn’t care: “Open access is separate from the serials crisis” and they must be disentangled. SPARC, on the other hand, pushes for a viable scholarly communications system.
Sadly, Harnad gets more space in Albanese’s piece than those interested in real-world solutions. Harnad’s absolutism shines through when he says, “SPARC gets it about 90 percent right. But that ten percent it gets wrong could hold us back ten years or more.” That’s classic Harnad: If you don’t agree with me 100%, you’re an obstacle.
I’ve been the brunt of Harnad’s absolutism and I’m sick of it. Harnad was a pioneer in advocating his own flavor of OA: He deserves credit for that. He now acts as a divisive force, belittling any actions to improve the survivability of the scholarly communications system (which should include libraries) if those actions aren’t 100% in accordance with his own pet project. He believes he’s steering people into the One True Path toward OA; I believe he’s damaging and quite possibly delaying the whole process through his extremism and single-mindedness.
An endnote attached to the article considers a panel at AAP/PSP’s annual meeting. Sad to say, the anti-NIH crowd continued its stance. Martin Frank “eloquently questioned both the legality of the NIH measure and its practicality” and suggested the NIH policy would put researchers in the position of “having to choose between pleasing their funding agency or their publisher, both of which are equally important career-wise.” That threat is particularly interesting coming from the author of the DC Principles for Free Access. If those principles mean anything at all, one would think that a 12-month embargo would be well within their parameters. I suppose Frank has helped to clarify the meaning of the DC Principles—that is, apparently, pure hypocrisy.
Olaf Sparre Andersen of The Journal of General Physiology included an odd comment in an editorial announcing some changes in that journal—which charges significant page charges already. After announcing the changes, he comments on the NIH policy, notes that only some of JGP’s articles (more than half) will be in PubMed Central and grumbles about the “burden” of the new policy on authors and readers—because “NIH/NLM does not wish to receive PDFs of the published articles,” thus placing a burden on authors to make sure the PMC version is correct and a burden on readers to verify its correctness. Fine, except that it’s not true. As Peter Suber notes, NIH is perfectly happy to receive the final publisher’s PDF, has said so, and will replace the author’s version with the publisher’s version when received. Andersen could presumably have checked this. Given that JGP’s own availability policy offers free access after a year, I fail to understand the point of the editorial except to snipe at NIH.
As noted in SOAN 85 (May 2, 2005), NIH started accepting publications on May 2. The policy is not OA. It does improve potential access. For some reason editors still feel the need to object to the policy.
Blackwell announced Online Open in February 2005. It’s a two-year trial of hybrid publishing—optional front-payment OA on an article-by-article basis. The price is high, $2,500 per article, but Blackwell seems to be doing it right. Subscription prices for journals in the trial will be adjusted based on the number of “author-pays” articles expected.
The Columbia University Senate unanimously passed a Resolution concerning “Open Access” on April 1, 2005. After several Whereas clauses, it is resolved:
“1. That the Senate put on record its support for the principle of open access to the fruits of scholarly research;
“2. That the Senate urge the University to advance new models for scholarly publishing that will promote open access, helping to reshape the marketplace in which scholarly ideas circulate, in a way that is consistent with standards of peer review and scholarly excellence;
“3. That the Senate urge the University to monitor and resist efforts to impose digital rights management regimes and technologies that obstruct or limit open access, except as necessary to secure rights of privacy;
“4. That the Senate urge the scholars of Columbia University to play a part in these open-access endeavors in their various capacities as authors, readers, editors, referees, and members of scientific boards and learned associations, etc., (a) by encouraging and collaborating with publishers’ efforts to advance open access, (b) by retaining intellectual property rights in their own work where this will help it become more widely available, and (c) by remaining alert to efforts by publishers to impose barriers on access to the fruits of scholarly research.”
A solid statement—but Stevan Harnad saw another chance to pounce, after claiming (absurdly, based on the record) that he does “not at all enjoy having always to play the role of carper and fault-finder.” His comment on this and a University of California resolution: “What was missing from both was the core component of a targeted university OA policy, the only component with the capacity to move universities to 100% OA rather than continuing to drift aimlessly, as they do now”—that is, self-archiving, preferably required. Harnad goes on to dismiss the need for reform in either scholarly publishing or copyright, and calls it “nothing short of absurd to keep harping on retaining copyright and favoring ‘alternative venues’ instead of simply adopting a policy of self-archiving all university journal article output.” Classic Harnad: anything other than The Solution is “absurd.” Indeed, he seems to label the Columbia resolution another “false start” that “keep[s] heading us off in the wrong directions.” Wrong, of course, according to Stevan Harnad.
Case Western Reserve University’s faculty senate also adopted a Resolution on open access. Its background statement defines Open Access journals succinctly and clearly. After a few Whereas clauses, the resolution “urges the University and is members to
“Support Open Access publishing in their educational, research, editorial and administrative roles, by encouraging their professional societies to move toward Open Access publishing, aiding in forming and providing editorial assistance to peer reviewed Open Access journals, and favoring such journals when submitting their own research,
“Encourage the University’s libraries to reallocate resources away from high-priced publishers,
“Support the consideration of peer-reviewed Open Access material during the promotion and tenure process,
“Post their work prior to publication in an open digital archive and seek to retain particular copyright rights enabling them to post their published work in a timely fashion, and provide institutional support to those seeking to do so, and
“Establish infrastructure to sustain digital Open Access publication.”
For Case Western Reserve, the emphasis is squarely on OA publishing, with archiving distinctly secondary.
A Wired News story on April 11 notes that OA journals continue to grow, with at least 1,525 in business. Then there’s the usual nonsense: suggestions that front-payments will “turn journals into servants to authors, like the vanity-press publishers,” with Dr. Jeffrey Drazen of the New England Journal of Medicine sniping that “who pays the fiddler calls the tune.” But Randy Dotinga (who wrote this piece) isn’t buying it: “Traditional journals face their own potential conflicts of interest. They are, after all, generally supported by advertisers with agendas.” The story goes offtrack in the next paragraph: “Indeed, journal subscription prices are already so high—some charge hundreds of dollars a year…” In STM, at least, “hundreds of dollars” is the mark of relatively inexpensive journals. Maybe Dotinga found “thousands and sometimes tens of thousands of dollars” too incredible to print. The story also quotes Blackwell’s president saying that the $2,500 Open Online fee “wouldn’t pay for all the costs associated with electronic development, peer review and distribution.”
Rudy M. Baum of Chemical & Engineering News continues to raise the Red flag. His May 16, 2005 editorial is entitled “More socialized science” and calls open access “a shell game, the unstated goal of which is to transfer responsibility for publishing and archiving the scientific literature from the private sector to the federal government.” He goes on to suggest “BMWs should be free” as a reasonable analogy to the idea that scientific information should be free. He calls the suggestion “absurd”—and I agree the analogy is absurd. There might be some worthwhile points in the editorial (not new points, to be sure), but after Baum calls OA advocates socialists, it’s hard to take anything in the editorial seriously. It is, in fact, crap like this that makes me nervous about being an OA independent: If the opponents consistently get it this wrong, should I just sign up with the most rigid adherents?
Jan Velterop, publisher at BioMed Central, has left to return to work as a consultant—and as an advocate for OA publishing, as noted in Information World Review for May 18. Velterop’s been a strong advocate, but his statements in the IWR piece are troubling. First, he says “there are really only two publishers [BMC and PLoS] involved,” which is a slap in the face to the many other bodies that have published OA journals since before BMC and PLoS began. It gets worse, from my perspective:
Velterop said OA needs renewed energy and a new focus to speed up its adoption. “Originally, OA was confused by librarians as being about the drive for lower prices. I think the two have very little to do with each other, and the attention on prices has been to the detriment of OA adoption by society publishers.”
He goes on to say that targeting authors and librarians for OA advocacy is mistaken. So Velterop appears also to ignore the issues of long-term survivability for a library and publishing system in favor of a single-minded approach—to be sure, a different single-minded approach than Harnad’s. Velterop dismisses library concerns; probably not a wonderful idea. But then, he cites Springer Open Choice as “the best OA model.” If that means that Velterop now believes $3,000 per article is a “reasonable price” for OA publication, it’s no wonder Velterop wants to steer the discussion away from any thought of saving money for libraries.
In later list postings, Velterop opines that publishing is more important than reading, which adds a whole new flavor to the discussion. In another post, he suggests “The value of a full-text article is diminishing” because abstracts and underlying data are increasingly freely available. “The knowledge embedded in articles will, before too long, be represented in disambiguated semantic maps of the articles rather than in the articles themselves.” Here, explicitly, the importance of archival and confirmatory articles “is a function of their existence rather than their being read. Knowing that they have been published will be enough.” What need for STM libraries, or even archival systems, if all that’s important about an article is that it was published? A new use for write-only memory? (That last note refers back to a groundbreaking “research” paper presented at LITA’s Fuzzy Match Interest Group back when that group was active. I don’t have publication data; there may not be any.)
I was charmed by the title of a new OA journal from CSA and the National Biological Information Infrastructure: Sustainability: Science, Practice, & Policy. What better than a journal about sustainability helping to make scholarly access and libraries sustainable?
Charles W. Bailey, Jr., founder of the Public-Access Computer Systems List (PACS-L) and founding editor of the Public-Access Computer Systems Review (an early gold OA refereed e-journal [first published in 1990]), has been involved with scholarly electronic publishing for a very long time. His Scholarly Electronic Publishing Bibliography and associated weblog combine to offer a deep, broad, well-organized ongoing bibliography of the field.
Recently, Charles began a second weblog, DigitalKoans (www.escholarlypub.com/digitalkoans/), with the motto “What is the sound of one e-print downloading?” I think it’s fair to suggest that library access to scholarship will be a significant focus of the weblog, at least given the first few postings.
On April 26, Charles posted “How green is my publisher?”—discussing his own attempts to retain copyright for his scholarly writings and what he found when he tried to self-archive a recent work. It’s a great post (they all are—go read them yourself), and indicates that self-archiving of articles in supposedly “green OA” journals may not be straightforward.
Here’s what I found. My “preprint distribution rights” allow “posting as electronic files on the contributor’s own Web site for personal or professional use, or on the contributor’s internal university/corporate intranet or network, or other external Web site at the contributor’s university or institution, but not for either commercial (for-profit) or systematic third party sales or dissemination, by which is meant any interlibrary loan or document delivery systems. The contributor may update the preprint with the final version of the article after review and revision by the journal’s editor(s) and/or editorial/peer-review board.
…The agreement also states that the e-print must contain a fair amount of information about the publisher and the paper: the published article’s citation and copyright date, the publisher’s address, information about the publisher’s document delivery service, and a link to the publisher’s home page.
Charles concludes that this policy does not allow him to deposit the article in an disciplinary archive such as E-LIS or the upcoming “universal repository” hosted by the Internet Archive. His own website won’t be OAI-compliant, and Houston doesn’t yet have an OAI-compliant institutional repository. He also finds the amount of required publisher publicity a bit excessive. He makes four points. Excerpting from each:
Ø “There are swirling currents of complexity beneath the placid surface of color-coded copyright transfer agreement directories… ‘Green’ may not always mean ‘go.’”
Ø “It would be helpful if such directories could identify whether articles can be deposited in key types of archives…”
Ø “If claims are going to be made about the number of ‘green’ journals, maybe more consideration about what ‘green’ means is in order…”
Ø “Although copyright transfer agreements have always been a confusing mess, now we want authors to actually read and evaluate them…. And [ir] managers…need to make sense of them postfacto to determine if articles can be legally deposited…”
You can guess what happened next: Harnad commented, briefly for Harnad although the comment is almost as long as the post. Harnad begins in all caps: “THE LIGHT DOESN’T GET ANY GREENER—AND NEEDN’T: JUST GO AHEAD AND SELF-ARCHIVE!” All caps, exclamation points scattered throughout, an absolute denial of any real issues: All proper marks of a zealot. Harnad considers the restrictions on “3rd-party archives” “perfectly reasonable.” He repeats, as he has hundreds of times, that it is “cheap and easy for any university to create an OAI-compliant institutional archive.” He repeats his theme that nobody should worry about the preservation of contents. He thinks the publisher requirements about information are “just fine too,” lumping publisher’s address, an ad for the publisher’s document delivery service, and so on with “full reference information.” And he appears to label Charles’ suggestion of standardized copyright transfer agreements as a “red herring.”
The next day, Charles Bailey posted “Not green enough,” responding to some of Harnad’s comment. He notes that 94% of universities do not have institutional repositories—a problem neatly solved by disciplinary archives and the Internet Archive repository. So, to Harnad’s “no problem,” Bailey replies, “We would have to believe that it doesn’t matter if articles are archived in OAI-PMH compliant repositories or archives…” Taking on the “cheap and easy” mantra, he cites cost estimates for some actual IRs: $285,000 per year at MIT, $100,000 at Queens University, $200,000 at the University of Rochester, and between 2,280 and 3,190 staff hours (thus, presumably, at least $60-$75,000 for moderately-paid computer staff) at the University of Oregon.
“I think that Stevan will find that few academic libraries are not going to worry about permanence.” Charles notes that librarians are aware that publishers are corporations, which change priorities, merge, and fail: “Publisher archives” are sometime things. Charles distinguishes between providing a citation and “providing a fair amount of advertising information for the publisher.” And, unsurprisingly, Charles objects to having understandable standard copyright transfer agreements called a “red herring.”
Apparently, Harnad struck back; I did not read the “extensive comments” provided (one can only take so much!). In “Two views of IRs,” posted April 29, Charles posits two very different views of institutional repositories that may be the crux of his disagreement with Harnad:
In Stevan’s view, the sole purpose of an IR is to provide free global access to e-prints… (I’m unclear about Stevan’s position about independent scholars who will never be able to self-archive in an IR because they are not affiliated with any institution…) IR managers who hold other views are obstructing progress because they are wasting time on nonessential issues, not correctly perceiving the urgency and simplicity of his self-archiving solution, and unnecessarily delaying the progress of OA.
My view of the basic function of an IR is best summed up by two quotes…
“…a set of services that a university offers to the members of its community for the management and dissemination of digital materials created by the institution and its community members. It is most essentially an organization commitment to the stewardship of these digital materials, including long-term preservation where appropriate…” [Clifford Lynch]
“An [IR] includes a variety of materials produced by scholars from many units… Some [IRs] are also being used as electronic presses…” [Charles W. Bailey, Jr.]
Given this vision of IRs, I see them as more technically complex than Stevan…
Later, Bailey notes that getting faculty to voluntarily deposit e-prints won’t be easy and that a “significant subset of universities will want some type of basic vetting of the copyright compliance status of submitted e-prints.” He notes that Johanneke Systema of Oxford University, commenting on “How green…,” agrees that “green doesn’t automatically mean go”—and that Systema must check publisher policies even when the SHERPA Romeo list indicates “green OA.” Bailey does not assume that his view of IRs as relatively complex and expensive will prevail over Harnad’s “$2000 linux server and a few days’ one-time sysad set-up time” view.
DigitalKoans followed up with a list of links to the 20 institutional repositories among the 123 ARL member libraries and a series of posts under the title “The view from the IR trenches,” offering cogent points from articles published by early adopters of IRs. Those are short, well-done extracts.
DigitalKoans in general is highly recommended. After I wrote the section above (this essay has been germinating for a while), he posted “The spectrum of e-journal access policies: Open to restricted access” (May 13, 2005). He suggests a first-cut model for journal access policies, offering five levels. Briefly:
Ø OA journals, color “green”—true OA with appropriately minimal licensing.
Ø Free access (FA) journals, which he calls cyan: Journals that provide free access but don’t use something similar to a Creative Commons “attribution” license.
Ø Embargoed access (EA) journals, “yellow”—those that offer access after some period.
Ø Partial Access (PA), “orange”—ones that offer access to some articles, but not all.
Ø Restricted Access (RA), “red”—ones that charge for any access.
He notes that many DOAJ journals are cyan rather than green, and would like to see a more nuanced breakdown of the spectrum.
Dr. Klaus Graf noted agreement in a brief comment. Stevan Harnad weighed in with a comment longer than the original post, “A plea for chrononomic parsimony and focus on what really matters.” You already know “what really matters” to Harnad—self-archiving and nothing else. “Who cares” about distinctions in copyright and economic policy? He dismisses the nature of licensing for OA journals: If the articles are free, “It doesn’t matter.” He goes on and on and on. He makes it clear that Harnad, and Harnad alone, defines the OA movement: “It is irrelevant (to the open access movement) what the publisher says about the website where the author may archive his own article.” Thus, if you find that relevant (as it is to anyone interested in a robust, survivable future), you’re not part of the OA movement: Harnad says so. He ends with a classic Harnad slap: “The only relevant color there is Red—as in Herring.” (There’s also the usual slew of self-citations, proving Harnad’s points by quoting the expert Harnad.)
Bailey thanks Harnad for his extensive comments. He goes on to admit that, viewed from Harnad’s perspective, his spectrum of policies is a waste of time—and notes that he doesn’t remember suggesting that it was a new OA model. “That said, Stevan’s view that open access equals free access (period) is not, as he well knows, universal, and his green and gold models are based on this premise.” Bailey goes on to quote portions of Suber’s “Open Access Overview”—which is a good deal more complex than Harnad’s black-and-white model. Bailey also has the temerity to suggest that Harnad is not consistent. None of which is really Bailey’s point:
[W]hile I admire Stevan’s unflagging advocacy of open access (by which he really means free access), open access is not the only issue in the e-journal publishing world that is of concern to librarians to whom this missive was mainly addressed. This is because librarians, while hopefully working to build a better future, have to deal with the messy existing realities of the e-publishing environment to do their jobs and to make decisions about how to allocate scarce resources…[skipping some important discussion for the same of brevity]
Stevan’s model has colors, but, in reality, each color is black and white: Gold and nothing, GREEN and grey. All or nothing. And, as long as you accept his premises, it works, and it allows him to focus on his free-access goal with single minded determination, undistracted by the knotty complexities of the e-scholarly publishing environment. Long may he run.
For those who have a different view of OA or who have broader concerns, it’s too “black and white.”
Go read the posts. I’ve left a lot out.
SOAN 83 includes “Reflections on OA/TA coexistence.” It begins, “Open access (OA) and toll access (TA) have coexisted for as long as there has been OA. So the question is not whether they can coexist, but whether they will coexist forever or only for some transition period.”
Suber doesn’t offer a prediction and explains why it’s difficult to do so. He notes that OA and TA are inherently compatible: “[T]wo journals, even in the same research niche, do not directly compete with one another for readers…journals are not fungible…” He also understands the complexities of compatibility—for example, “journals in the same niche compete for submissions even if they don’t compete for readers.” “There is clearly a tipping point, even if we haven’t reached it yet, after which libraries will cancel high-priced TA journals because their niche is adequately served by high-quality OA journals.”
Suber believes that coexistence reduces the efficiency of both OA and TA. I’m not sure I agree, but Suber’ (as always) makes an excellent case. He offers several other points regarding competition and coexistence—and notes that in physics, OA and TA have coexisted for 14 years. “This isn’t just a little OA coexisting with a lot of TA. OA archiving is the default in physics, and yet TA journals in the field are not only surviving but thriving.” Skipping over quite a few points worth considering, I reach Suber’s note that “the system in which all or most journals are TA cannot survive” because published knowledge is growing too rapidly—and the current system “is already dysfunctional and has been for 10-20 years.”
SOAN 84, April 2, 2005, begins with “Helping scholars and helping libraries” and continues with “Getting to 100%.”
Scholars and libraries are close allies in the campaign for open access, but they pursue OA for different reasons. For scholars, the primary benefit of OA is wider and easier access for readers and larger audience and impact for authors. For librarians, the primary benefit of OA is saving money in their serials budget.
He goes on to offer examples of how specific initiatives help scholars more than they help libraries—and wonders whether a move to OA will ever save money for libraries. “We know what kinds of OA initiative will help scholars—namely, ever kind. But what kinds of OA initiative will help libraries save money in their serials budgets?” A tough question, made tougher because Suber admits that he wants libraries to save money because libraries will be “the best source of funds for the long-term sustenance of OA.” If academic libraries have no other collection shortfalls—such as monographs in the humanities—then maybe Suber’s right in saying, “the best way to spend the savings is on the OA alternative that made the savings possible.” But if that’s not true—as seems to be the case—then it’s more complicated.
“The inevitable question is whether I, and all others who want to help libraries, want to harm publishers. The answer is no.” Suber can speak for himself, but I would suggest that some who want to help libraries would be only to happy to harm some publishers, specifically those that have been draining academic libraries of every last drop of budget. I agree that most balanced participants do not support initiatives “whose direct purpose is to undermine publishers”—but consider this closing statement as well:
Certain services, like peer review and wide and easy distribution, are indispensable for science and society. But no particular journal or publisher is indispensable.
“Getting to 100% offers a “progress report” on some of the obstacles for OA. He notes that most OA journals, at least those in the DOAJ, do not charge up-front fees: They’re supported through other means such as institutional subsidy. That finding calls into question the Cornell study.
He also discusses IR issues, including the lack of OAI-compliant repositories at many institutions—and uses that discussion to announce the Internet Archive-based “universal repository.” But as Charles W. Bailey, Jr. notes, many publishers don’t appear to allow deposit in any repository outside the author’s institution.
Finally, here’s one you really should download (and copy as needed): What you can do to promote open access, www.earlham.edu/%7Epeters/fos/do.htm. The version I saw was revised on April 5, 2005. It’s divided into sections for elements within universities, journals and publishers, foundations, and others. It’s not short, but it’s all bullet points and nicely organized. Major bullets for university libraries include “Launch an open-access OAI-compliant eprint archive…,” “Help faculty deposit their articles in the [IR],” “Consider publishing an open-access journal,” “Consider rejecting the big deal…,” “Help OA journals launched at the university become known to other libraries…,” “Include OA journals in the library catalog,” and more. The document includes loads of good ideas; you don’t need to do all of them to help.
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