[Journal-notes] Re: Green Party Green on Gold but not on Green

Stevan Harnad harnad at ecs.soton.ac.uk
Sat Sep 10 19:53:49 EST 2005


Before I reply to David Goodman, let me post here Jean-Claude Guedon's
response to David's posting (not posted independently, because it is
non-substantive and I have repeatedly made pleas for substantive postings
only, as this Forum is for policy-makers, not cheer-leaders):

    "Hear! Hear! Common sense at last!"
    Jean-Claude Guedon

On Sat, 10 Sep 2005, David Goodman wrote:

> The obvious solution is for authorities to mandate publishing under
> any form of OA, and provide the facilities and the funding for both 
> Green, and Gold, each of which exist to some extent, and need expansion. 
> The authors will choose.  

The reason the UK Select Committee recommendation, the Berlin 3
recommendation and the RCUK recommendation took the specific (almost
identical) form they did was that what is being proposed above is too
vague, and in several critical respects incoherent:

All three recommendations took the form: (1) *mandate* OA self-archiving
(green) and *encourage* (and support) OA publishing (gold).

    http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200304/cmselect/cmsctech/399/39903.htm
    http://www.eprints.org/berlin3/outcomes.html
    http://www.rcuk.ac.uk/access/index.asp

This is not mandating any form of *publishing.* It is encouraging a form
of publishing (OA publishing, gold) and mandating OA self-archiving
(green). The reason is that a form of publishing cannot be mandated,
either for the author or the publisher. Authors must be allowed to choose
the journal they publish in and publishers (except if, like the author,
they are subsidised by the mandator) must be allowed to choose their
business model for making ends meet.

I do agree, though, that it is foolish to make funds available for paying
the much higher costs per paper of publishing in an OA journal while
not making funds available for the far, far lower costs per paper of
self-archiving. The UK Select Committee recommended helping with both,
whereas Berlin 3 and RCUK only mentioned helping to cover OA publishing
costs. Since self-archiving is incomparably cheaper per paper, the only
reason for even mentioning this disparity is that there is currently a
loophole in the RCUK policy which many of us have recommended plugging up,
and that is an apparent opt-out clause, should the fundee's institution
not yet have an IR to self-archive in. A modest per-paper contribution
by RCUK toward the equally modest set-up and maintenance costs of an IR
would plug this loophole.

> [We] should discuss ways of helping them both. A plan that does not 
> make provision for all plausible alternatives is the plan of 
> an autocratic administrator, not of responsible scientists working on 
> questions of policy. 

Agreed, and please see the three versions of the policy recommendation above:
All three propose mandating what can be mandated (green) and encouraging what
can be encouraged (gold).

And please try to recall what this thread was about, which was the
Green Party's proposal to mandate gold while completely overlooking
green.

The rest of the discussion has kept devolving on the logic and feasibility of
mandating gold. David's posting has said nothing substantive about that;
it has merely collapsed all the substantive distinctions at issue into
"mandate publishing under any form of OA," an incoherent proposal, to
the extent that it can be assigned any meaning at all, and reminiscent
of the first (equally incoherent) pre Berlin-3 version of the Berlin
Declaration, which spoke of "publishing according to the OA paradigm,"
a near-meaningless descriptor that had in turn in turn been highly
influenced by the Bethesda Statement, in which "OA" simply meant "OA
publishing" (gold).

The UK Committee Proposal, Berlin-3, and RCUK have since brought this
into focus. Please let us not blur it again in the service of a diffuse
ecumenism that looks cosy but in fact says nothing that actually makes
sense, let alone something that can be concretely implemented as a mandate.

I might add that one of the reasons the UK Select Committee proposal
was rejected by the government was that its full-text was vague and
wordy enough, despite the clear and coherent summary statement in the
URL cited above, to be portrayed by the publishing lobby as a mandate
for OA publishing (gold) (which it definitely was not), and thereby
defeated as an unwarranted attempt to foist a different business model
on them. Berlin-3, in contrast, is short and very clear on what is being
mandated (green) and what merely encouraged and supported (gold). RCUK
(though again far too wordy and rambling in extenso) is also very clear
about what is being mandated (green) and what merely encouraged and
supported (gold). David is here suggesting that we conflate them again,
under the vague portmanteau "mandate publishing under any form of OA".

This only invites the publisher's lobby to drub Peter (green) to pox Paul
(gold) yet again. It would be much more helpful to think rigorously and
critically about the concrete details and distinctions at issue rather
than just championing superficial solidarity on incompatible matters
of substance.

    http://www.ecs.soton.ac.uk/~harnad/Hypermail/Amsci/4151.html
    http://www.ecs.soton.ac.uk/~harnad/Hypermail/Amsci/4158.html
    http://education.guardian.co.uk/higherfeedback/story/0,11056,1364556,00.html

Stevan Harnad





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