Distinguishing the Access Problem from the Affordability Problem

Stevan Harnad harnad at ecs.soton.ac.uk
Fri May 28 15:52:51 EST 2004



---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Thu, 27 May 2004 16:59:20 -0700
From: Heather Morrison <heatherm at eln.bc.ca>
To: American Scientist Open Access Forum
    <AMERICAN-SCIENTIST-OPEN-ACCESS-FORUM at LISTSERVER.SIGMAXI.ORG>
Subject: Distinguishing the Access Problem from the Affordability Problem

    [Two postings from Heather Morrison, each followed by
     Moderator's Reply]

----------------------------------------------------------------
1.

While the need for open access and the crisis in scholarly publishing 
are two separate issues, it is important to consider both together.

If researchers continue to publish in journals that researchers 
themselves (indirectly, through their libraries) cannot afford, then 
the crisis in the scholarly publishing industry will continue.  If the 
researchers self-archive articles in journals that are not affordable, 
then we have achieved open access to these articles, but in the long 
run, if alternatives are not developed and supported, then commercial 
publishers no longer under pressure could easily drop policies adopted 
during the current debate.

It is clear to me that not only are both roads to open access 
desirable, but both are absolutely necessary.  Researchers need to 
participate in open access (or at least affordable alternative) 
publishing, in addition to self-archiving.

Heather G. Morrison
Project Coordinator
BC Electronic Library Network
Phone: 604-268-7001
Fax: 604-291-3023
Email:  heatherm at eln.bc.ca
Web: http://www.eln.bc.ca

    MODERATOR'S REPLY:

    Heather Morrison wrote:

>   If researchers continue to publish in journals that researchers
>   themselves (indirectly, through their libraries) cannot afford, then
>   the crisis in the scholarly publishing industry will continue.  

    As long as journals are unaffordable, they are unaffordable. That
    is undeniable.

>   If the researchers self-archive articles in journals that are not
>   affordable, then we have achieved open access to these articles, but
>   in the long run, if alternatives are not developed and supported,
>   then commercial publishers no longer under pressure could easily
>   drop policies adopted during the current debate.

    First there was the worry that if we self-archive, our publishers
    will sue us.  Now that they say go ahead and self-archive, we worry
    that they will change their minds: When will we stop worrying and
    just go ahead and self-archive?

    The pressure not to oppose self-archiving did not come from the
    pricing negotiations, it came from the evidence and pressure for the
    obvious benefits of OA for research and researchers. Why would anyone
    imagine that an increase in OA will decrease rather than increase that
    pressure (for OA)?

>   It is clear to me that not only are both roads to open access
>   desirable, but both are absolutely necessary.  Researchers need to
>   participate in open access (or at least affordable alternative)
>   publishing, in addition to self-archiving.

    Authors will continue to choose journals based on their
    quality, content, track-record and impact, not their price.

    But please see the Unified Dual Open-Access-Provision Policy:

    BOAI-2 ("gold"): Publish your article in a suitable open-access
            journal whenever one exists.
    BOAI-1 ("green"): Otherwise, publish your article in a suitable
            toll-access journal and also self-archive it.
    http://www.eprints.org/signup/

    Stevan Harnad

------------------------------------------------------------

2.
From: Heather Morrison <heatherm at eln.bc.ca>
Subject: Elsevier Gives Authors Green Light for Open Access Self-Archiving

Do-it-yourself editing???

Elsevier's Karen Hunter wrote:

> By "his version" we are referring to Word or Tex file, not a PDF or HTML
> downloaded from ScienceDirect - but the author can update the version
> to reflect changes made during the refereeing and editing process.

This is do-it-yourself editing, right? The author is free to post the
final, refereed version, but must take the responsibility for editing 
and proofreading from the author's own preprint?

Researchers deserve better! When a researcher essential gives away the 
ability to reap monetary reward from publishing an article, the least 
the publisher can do is provide the author with the fruits of their own 
labour, in the form of the final electronic version(s).

If this is full "green", then I think we need new shades. This is a 
pale, half-hearted green, which might be seen as a token form of 
supporting open access which is actually meant to discourage it in 
practice. A true full green should be reserved for publishers willing 
to provide the final copy in electronic format.

This is a step in the right direction though, and congratulations to 
Elsevier.

One positive in this do-it-yourself editing approach from the 
commercial publishing side is that it gives an added edge to the open 
access publishers, who are willing to provide the self-archiving 
researcher with a superior product.

Heather Morrison

    MODERATOR'S REPLY:

    Heather Morrison <heatherm at eln.bc.ca> wrote:

>    Elsevier's Karen Hunter wrote:
>kh> By "his version" we are referring to Word or Tex file, not a PDF or
>kh> HTML downloaded from ScienceDirect - but the author can update the
>kh> version to reflect changes made during the refereeing and editing 
>kh> process.
>   
>   This is do-it-yourself editing, right? The author is free to post
>   the final, refereed version, but must take the responsibility for
>   editing and proofreading from the author's own preprint?

    No, this is do-it-yourself self-archiving of the final, refereed
    version. (If there has been any substantive editing, the author is
    free to incorporate that too.)
    http://www.eprints.org/self-faq/#What-self-archive

>   Researchers deserve better! When a researcher essentially gives away
>   the ability to reap monetary reward from publishing an article, the
>   least the publisher can do is provide the author with the fruits of
>   their own labour, in the form of the final electronic version(s).

    Heather: Ne faites pas plus royaliste que le roi! This is exactly
    the point on which the well-meaning library community is profoundly
    misunderstanding what the research community wants and needs, now,
    and risks becoming a part of the problem rather than the solution. As
    I wrote, presciently, in the announcement of Elsevier's going green:

>sh> There will be the predictable cavils from the pedants and those who
>sh> have never understood the real meaning and nature of OA: "It's only the
>sh> final refereed draft, not the publisher's PDF," "It does not include
>sh> republishing rights," "Elsevier is still not an OA publisher."

    What researchers deserve and want and need is open access to
    their refereed research, now (in fact, a decade ago). This should
    not be allowed to be delayed or diverted for one microsecond
    more in favour of holding out for which-hunting (sic).
    http://www.ecs.soton.ac.uk/~harnad/Temp/self-archiving_files/Slide0025.

    The "monetary reward" issue is squarely a library/affordability issue.
    Please do not let it becloud a very clear picture insofar as the
    issue of access is concerned.

    The self-archived OA version of a refereed journal article is a
    *supplement*, not a *substitute*, for the canonical journal version.
    It is a supplement that is provided by the author so that no would-be
    user whose institution cannot afford to subscribe to the journal
    version is ever again denied access to the article.

    That (and nothing else) is what OA is about. There may *possibly*
    be some eventual spin-offs for the affordability problem; but at
    tail must not be allowed to wag the dog, especially now, when
    there is as yet hardly any dog!

>   If this is full "green", then I think we need new shades. This is
>   a pale, half-hearted green, which might be seen as a token form of
>   supporting open access which is actually meant to discourage it
>   in practice. A true full green should be reserved for publishers
>   willing to provide the final copy in electronic format.

    Dear Heather, none of this well-intentioned exactingness
    is helpful to either OA or to researchers! The SHERPA/Romeo
    list already codes far too many trivial and even incoherent
    distinctions with far too many useless and uninformative colors:
    http://www.sherpa.ac.uk/romeo.php?all=yes

    That is precisely why we have had to create the Southampton/Romeo
    version: 
    http://www.ecs.soton.ac.uk/~harnad/Temp/Romeo/romeosum.html
    http://romeo.eprints.org/publishers.html

    The Romeo Directory of publishers' self-archiving policies is not
    primarily intended as a detailed database for traditional library
    permissions/IP specialists cataloguing publishers' usage restrictions
    on bought-in content.

    It is intended for researcher/authors trying to find out which
    journals have already given the green light to self-archiving (and
    how their numbers are growing).

>   This is a step in the right direction though, and congratulations
>   to Elsevier.

    It is the *only* step publishers *must* take for OA. The rest of it
    is all down to researchers. And the library community is not helping
    if it keeps putting the stress on the wrong sylLABLE...

>   One positive in this do-it-yourself editing approach from the
>   commercial publishing side is that it gives an added edge to the
>   open access publishers, who are willing to provide the self-archiving
>   researcher with a superior product.

    The only relevant edge here is the edge of the growth curve for OA
    provision. Let us hope the bright green light will now guide that
    toward 100% without further delay.

    http://www.ecs.soton.ac.uk/~harnad/Temp/self-archiving_files/Slide0024.gif

    Stevan Harnad




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