IFLA Statement on Open Access

Stevan Harnad harnad at ecs.soton.ac.uk
Wed Feb 25 06:02:18 EST 2004


On Wed, 25 Feb 2004, Alex Byrne wrote:

> The IFLA Statement on Open Access to Scholarly Literature and Research
> Documentation has been announced at
> 
> http://www.ifla.org/V/cdoc/open-access04.html

I hate to be a constant curmudgeon, but if these formal statements and
declarations keep proliferating that simply equate Open Access with
Open Access Journal Publication, and keep misrepresenting Open Access
Archiving as being merely the means of storing and accessing Open Access
Journal Articles, the great loser, both in numbers and time, will be
Open Access itself, and researchers will continue to sacrifice
vast amounts of their research usage and impact needlessly.

I honestly don't know how or why this systematic and counterproductive
misunderstanding has managed to take such firm root, but all one can do
is to keep pointing out where the fundamental fallacy lies, and hope
there is some way to correct it:

Less than 5% of the articles to which we are all trying to create Open
Access can be made Open Access (OA) today by publishing them in an Open
Access Journal today for the simple reason that less than 5% of journals
are Open Access today. Statements and Declarations along the lines of
the IFLA statement are tantamount to saying that we are determined to
wait until that 5% rises to 100% in order to have 100% Open Access.

But there is no reason whatsoever to wait for that day (nor is it at all
certain when, if ever, that day will come, if this were our only means of
gaining Open Access: i.e., waiting for Open Access Journals to be created
or converted out of Toll-Access Journals, so we can publish our articles
in them). At least three times as many articles per year are being
made Open Access today by another means: by being published in Toll
Access Journals *and* being self-archived in Open Access Eprint Archives
by their authors. Moreover, this Open-Access Self-Archiving is also
growing at a faster rate than the rate at which the number of articles
in Open Access Journals is growing.

Yet this larger, faster source of OA is being completely overlooked
by these OA statements and declarations, which simply keep echoing
the wording of the Bethesda Statement, in which archiving is not seen as
an independent means of providing OA, but merely as the means of storing
and accessing articles that have been published in OA journals!

    Re: Bethesda statement on open access publishing
    http://www.ecs.soton.ac.uk/~harnad/Hypermail/Amsci/2878.html

Overlooked also is the fact that although even three times 5% and
a faster growth rate is not a very impressive size or tempo for OA,
self-archiving already has the official green light of at least 55%
of journals, and that OA can easily be provided in this way for 100%
of articles (and is already being provided by those authors who have --
despite the one-sidedness of all these statements and declarations --
already had the good sense to provide immediate OA for their own articles
by self-archiving them).
http://www.lboro.ac.uk/departments/ls/disresearch/romeo/Romeo%20Publisher%20Policies.htm

Curmudgeon or no curmudgeon, one cannot stop pointing this out on
every occasion that yet another OA statement or declaration is announced,
as long as these OA statements and declarations keep focusing
one-sidedly only on the 5% road to immediate OA, and neglecting the
95% road.

What these OA statements and declarations should be promoting is the
unified dual OA provision policy:

    BOAI-2 ("gold"): Publish your article in a suitable open-access
            journal whenever one exists.
            http://www.earlham.edu/~peters/fos/boaifaq.htm#journals
    BOAI-1 ("green"): Otherwise, publish your article in a suitable
            toll-access journal and also self-archive it.
            http://www.eprints.org/self-faq/

Stevan Harnad




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