May 12 CERN meeting on implementing the Berlin Declaration

Stevan Harnad harnad at ecs.soton.ac.uk
Tue May 25 16:34:08 EST 2004


         THE LIBRARY COMMUNITY, THE RESEARCH COMMUNITY
                  AND OPEN ACCESS

              Stevan Harnad

This is a reply to David Goodman's posting.

I think the pattern emerging is clear: The library community, pressed by
its journal budget crisis, is far less interested in Open Access than in
re-forming the journal publishing system. The research community, in
contrast is (or would be if it were informed about the facts of access
and impact, as it will be) far more interested in immediate Open Access
than in re-forming the journal publishing system.

This substantial difference in priorities is what is behind the
differences in perceptions and strategies. Immediate Open Access will
not come about through the efforts of the library community, apparently,
as their interest is simply not in that. Helene Bosc is entirely right
that the OA movement needs to focus on the needs of researchers now,
particularly as the means of providing immediate OA are in researchers'
hands.

Meanwhile the library community can proceed in parallel in their efforts
to re-form the publishing system.

The Berlin Declaration, however, and its implementation, is another
matter. It cannot be allowed to provide only, or even primarily, for the
objectives of the library community (publishing reform). OA is primarily
for research and researchers, as Helene Bosc (a librarian!) clearly
noted; it is provided by and for researchers, and the primary means of
providing it is self-archiving. David may be satisfied with the current
size (5%) and growth rate (not yet known) of OA via OA journal publishing,
but research and researchers certainly should not be.

The Schloegl/Velden Roadmap, in its current form, does not reflect the
need of the research community for immediate OA; it reflects only the
desire of the library community for eventual OA publishing. This needs
to be remedied. Moreover, the Roadmap, which is meant to be a concrete
implementation of the abstract principles in the Berlin Declaration, is
nothing of the sort. It just consists of more vague principles, and aimed
mostly at eventual publishing re-form, not at immediate OA provision.

This needs to be corrected, with a concrete Roadmap for the provision of
OA, by and for researchers, not just the possible/eventual re-form of
publishing in the direction of OA publishing.

Here are some comments:

On Tue, 25 May 2004, David Goodman wrote:

> Helene asks why she perceived an emphasis on OA journals [in the
> [Schloegl/Velden Roadmap for implementing the Berlin Declaration]
> I think the emphasis on OA journals is due to 2 factors:
> 
> 1. The probability of OA journals succeeding is perceived to be much
> greater than most people would have said a year ago.

Yes, but has anyone looked at the actual evidence, rather than the
perceptions? 

First, the current 1097 OA journals listed by DOAJ
http://www.doaj.org/ were not created or converted in the
past year; it just took DOAJ a year to catch up with them.
OA journals have been created/converted (and unconverted and
terminated) continuously for the past 15 years.

What has changed in the past several years is OA *consciousness*
-- plus the gathering and cataloguing of OA journals (in DOAJ).

It would be very interesting to see the true figures on the current
growth rate of OA journals (i.e., new creations/conversions), and to see
it charted and extrapolated across time. For only such data will give
us a realistic idea of how far away 100% OA actually lies along this
"golden" road of OA journal publishing.

We will soon be compiling these figures. And comparing them with the OA
growth rate via the "green" road of self-archiving articles published in
non-OA journals: Both the percentage of OA and the growth rate
there are known, and I am pretty sure that both are considerably
higher than the percentage of OA and growth rate via the
golden road (as reckoned in terms of number of OA articles).
http://archives.eprints.org/eprints.php?action=analysis

My guess is that the current annual percentages of OA via green and gold
are, respectively, 20% and 5%. But far more important than the much higher
actual annual number of OA articles via the green road compared to the
gold road is the fact that the green road has the *immediate* potential
to provide 100% OA (or 83% if you want to consider only the journals
that have already given author self-archiving their official green light).
http://www.ecs.soton.ac.uk/~harnad/Temp/Romeo/romeosum.html

It is this potential for immediate OA provision that research and
researchers will be interested in, even if it does not interest those
who are concerned only about eventual publishing reform, via the golden
road.

> 2. The repository model (self-archiving) has now been understood.
> I suggest (though Stevan will strongly disagree) that it is best suited
> for a secondary position. 

David is suggesting that self-archiving, even though it already provides
more annual OA, and is immediately capable of providing 100% OA, is
secondary: Secondary to what? and for what? It is certainly secondary
for publication reform, but it is just as certainly primary for immediate
OA provision. The rest is simply about whether it is the needs of
research and researchers that one regards as primary, insofar as OA is
concerned, or something else.

> If the publication system is able to shift
> to OA journals and if the relatively small costs savings is sufficient,
> then they are probably far superior for at least the immediate future.

If I succeed in following David here, he seems to be saying that *if*
publishing is able (and willing, presumably) to switch to OA
publishing in the immediate future, then that is better than not.
But is this a realistic expectation, for the immediate future? and one
that we are justified in waiting for? and justified in neglecting
immediate self-archiving for?

> The reason for the superiority is not necessary their intrinsic merits, but
> their familiarity: everyone already knows how the citation, archiving,
> refereeing, and tenure systems work with journals.

Here I cannot follow at all: It sounded above as if David was speculating
that the remaining 23,000 of the 24,000 peer-reviewed journal would
convert to OA publishing in the immediate future. This already takes a
lot of imagination, and has no evidence to back it up. But what
further reforms does David have in mind? And when does he imagine them
happening? And why? And what do they have to do with OA?

> 2A. The repository model has one immense advantage: it costs much
> less. If it turns out that the OA alternative cannot be widely or
> universally adopted because of financial consideration, we have an
> excellent alternative.

One has to do considerable work to decode this passage: What is the
"repository model"? Self-archiving is not a rival "model": It is another
means of providing OA to the articles published according to the
existing publishing model!

And what costs are being compared here? Publishing costs and archiving
costs? But that's like comparing transportation costs and hitch-hiking
costs! Self-archiving is merely an author's way of providing
supplementary, toll-free access to his published articles, for all
would-be users whose institutions may not be able to pay the access-tolls
for the journal's version. David is so fixated on OA as publication
reform that he does not seem to be able to recognize Open Access as
Open Access! He thinks that "the OA alternative" is OA publishing,
and OA publishing alone, and that self-archiving is just some sort of
fall-back position, should OA publishing fail!

David: Open Access means researchers can access the full texts of
published journal articles toll-free. That's all it means. The rest is
just a conflation with publication-reform speculations.

> 2B. Although I have no doubt whatsoever that we will soon work out all
> the problems of citation, archiving, refereeing, and tenure systems
> for self-archiving, it is still premature to claim that we have already
> done this.

I am lost again. Self-archiving is merely providing Open Access to the 95%
of articles that are published in non-OA journals. What on earth needs
to be "worked out" regarding citation, refereeing and tenure systems
for self-archiving -- apart from the fact that the OA will substantially
enhance the number of citations?

David is again so fixated on publishing reform that he does not seem
able to grasp that Open Access just means Open Access: Open Access to
what there is *now*; not to or in some hypothetical future publication or
evaluation system.

> In particular, I at least (and possibly a few other people) regard
> self-archiving on individual servers as intrinsically unreliable,
> since it is based on the active human lifespan. Once all universities
> have suitable archives, and all people use them, it will be another
> matter. But, once more, we aren't quite there yet.

Here again, the library community seems incapable of conceiving of
self-archiving as anything but an alternative storage medium: David,
that is not the point! To self-archive an article is to provide a
*supplementary means of access to it, for those who cannot afford 
the toll-access version*! Stop worrying about the intrinsic unreliability
of servers and the human lifespan. Think instead of the impact that
is being lost by research and living but mortal researchers as we spend
all this time discussing preservation instead of self-archiving our
articles, as the physicists have been doing since 1991 -- with their
articles still as openly accessible today as they were 13 years ago!

What is missing is not archives. There are already plenty of archives:
http://archives.eprints.org/eprints.php?action=browse

What is missing is *articles* in those archives: 
http://archives.eprints.org/eprints.php?page=all

And one reason (not the sole reason, but a big one) why those articles
are missing is because the institutions that created them do not have
a self-archiving policy:
http://software.eprints.org/handbook/departments.php

And the main reason institutions do not have a self-archiving policy is
because so many so-called OA proponents are merely proponents of
publishing re-form and OA publishing, rather than proponents of
OA itself:
http://www.eprints.org/signup/sign.php

> 2C. AND this one I think Stevan will agree with:
> 
> While we are working out the details and getting the supporters for
> better eventual systems of either sort,
> 
> ALL researchers should use what we have now, and get their friends and
> colleagues to do the same.

No, the rationale for self-archiving is not merely as a place-holder or
stage-setter for publishing re-form! That's no way to encourage
researchers to self-archive. The rationale for self-archiving is to
provide OA! And the rationale for providing OA is to maximize research
access so as to maximize research impact.
http://www.nature.com/nature/focus/accessdebate/21.html

> Only a few of us really want to work on improving the publishing system
> as a primary activity--most researchers would much rather work in their
> subject, and publish as effectively as possible. For those who do want
> to work--as I do-- on the publishing system primarily, there are three
> equally desirable routes:
> 
> 1. To persuade everyone working in any field of scholarship to archive
> immediately, as best and as fast as possible
> 
> 2. To further develop the repository (self-archiving) system in any of
> its aspects.
> 
> 3. To persuade publishers of the advantage of converting to OA
> journals--or starting new ones.
> 
> I seem to have chosen no.3; Stevan no.1. There's a lot of work ahead
> for all. I do not see the Roadmap as concentrating excessively on any
> one of them.

David has chosen publishing re-form, I have chosen immediate OA
provision. But the Schloegl/Velden Roadmap, apart from being exceedingly
vague and saying nothing concrete about implementation (except that it
would be a good idea to subsidize authors' OA journal publishing costs)
is, like David, focussed exclusively on 3, and ignoring 1 entirely. (There
is no "2": Archives don't need developing: they need filling!)

Stevan Harnad




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