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On the Need to Take Both Roads to Open Access

Stevan Harnad harnad at ecs.soton.ac.uk
Thu Oct 16 16:08:59 EST 2003


I've re-directed this thread from the closed Budapest list to the AmSci
list as it has now become of more general interest. -- SH

On Thu, 16 Oct 2003, Jan Velterop wrote:

> The trouble is, making the case for open access journals *implies* making
> the case for open-archiving (indeed multiple archiving, as multiple as
> possible; as you know, the BMC material is at the very least archived in
> PubMed Central, INIST, Potsdam and the Royal Dutch Library; more to come).
> Self-archiving doesn't imply open access publishing in the same way.

Jan, I think there is a major misconstrual here:

Open-access publishing does not imply open-access *self*-archiving, it
merely implies (indeed requires) open-access *archiving*! There is a world
of a difference there. And the fact that open-access publishing implies
archiving is certainly no "dual-strategy" on the part of open-access
publishing (BOAI-2) toward open-access self-archiving (BOAI-1)! (I have
noticed -- and noted -- this somewhat erroneous implication in BMC
promotional material before):

An open-access journal *must* (by definition) provide open access to its
articles. So that *necessarily* implies some form of online archiving
for access provision -- but not necessarily self-archiving! On the
contrary, surely the *one* kind of journal where the author need *not*
perform those extra keystrokes it requires to self-archive, is an
open-access journal! Having already *paid* for open-access publication,
the author would understandably feel doubly put-upon if he himself
also had to take the responsibility for providing the access and doing
the archiving, just as if he was publishing in a toll-access journal
(for free)!

[But the case is actually more complicated; I will return to the above
point in a moment in connection with (hypothetical) *future* open-access
publishing, done slightly differently. I am referring only to present-day,
BMC- and PLoS-style open-access journals right now.]

So the kind of (presumably OAI-compliant) archiving that must be done
with the articles in an open-access journal is *not* self-archiving,
being surely the responsibility of the journal, not the author!

So open-access publishing does *not* imply open-access self-archiving.

Nor does open-access self-archiving imply open-access publishing, as
you correctly note. So in that respect the two strategies are on a par.

However, the dual open-access strategy, if promoted by both BOAI-1 and
BOAI-2 as I have recommended:

    BOAI-2: publish your article in a suitable open-access journal
            whenever one exists;
    BOAI-1: otherwise, publish your article in a suitable toll-access
            journal and also self-archive it

would have the following benefits for BOAI-2 and its archiving burden:

Today, as authors self-archive the majority of their articles (which
are today 95% toll-access journal articles), it is quite natural
for them to also go on to do those same extra keystrokes for the
5% of them that are open-access journal articles -- especially if
the self-archiving is a systematic institutional or departmental
policy along the lines of the policy model we have recommended:
http://www.ecs.soton.ac.uk/~harnad/Temp/archpolnew.html 
Insitutional research output will *all* be self-archived in the
institutional archive, whether it is published in a toll-access or an
open-access journal (if for no other reason then to facilitate
research assessment: http://www.ariadne.ac.uk/issue35/harnad/ ).

And now we can return to that hypothetical future form of open-access
publishing, when it will no longer be the odd-man-out as it is now,
but the form of publishing to which all of toll-access publishing all
converts, because open-access self-archiving has become universal: In
cost-cutting and down-sizing to open-access publishing, all toll-access
publishers *then* will be able to offload all access and storage functions
onto the network of existing institutional eprint archives of
self-archived research output, allowing the journals to charge less for
their sole remaining essential service (administering peer review).

http://www.ecs.soton.ac.uk/~harnad/Temp/dual-strategy.htm

Right now, you can really only ask your paying authors to self-archive
for you as a favor. But if you adopt the dual strategy, it will seem a
much smaller favor to ask. And it will promote self-archiving too.

> Self-archiving is the cough mixture where open access publishing is the
> vaccine. That's good and fine. And you are right, it's much more immediate,
> too, and very soothing as a palliative, as long as you can convince the
> patient to take it.

I'm afraid I have to reject that metaphor! Let's talk about today's
*absence* of open access for over 90% of researchers' output as lost
potential impact. *That's* the disease. Today, open-access publishing is
the cure for about 5% of that disease: Only self-archiving can cure all
the rest (yes *all* the rest). Wait for open-access publishing? Wait for
the creation or conversion of 23,500 toll-access journals? Waiting means
mounting daily/weekly/monthly/yearly impact-loss. Liken it (though still
imperfectly) to a diabetic's daily blood-sugar problems, rather than to
palliative cough-syrups vs. vaccines! Should we take insulin (BOAI-1)
now, or keep waiting for the definitive *cure* of diabetes (BOAI-2)?

And the metaphor is all the more imperfect because there *is* as yet
no definitive cure of diabetes, nor will taking insulin hasten it, but
impact-loss is the disease, open-access is the cure, and open access
through self-archiving now will actually hasten and facilitate the 
"definitive" cure (eventual universal open-access publishing).
http://www.nature.com/nature/debates/e-access/Articles/harnad.html#B1

> You'll just have to work on publicity (doesn't cost much money at all; just
> an awful lot of application and tenacity of which you have plenty, but it
> has to be applied right) and try to reach those who matter rather than the
> already converted on lists like this.
> 
> I truly wish you'll succeed, and soon, too.

You're right that these lists are for the already-converted. But I hope
others are carrying the message forward! 

Best wishezs,
Stevan

Complete archive of the ongoing discussion of providing open
access to the peer-reviewed research literature online is available at
the American Scientist September Forum (98 & 99 & 00 & 01 & 02 & 03):
    http://amsci-forum.amsci.org/archives/september98-forum.html
    http://www.cogsci.soton.ac.uk/~harnad/Hypermail/Amsci/index.html
    Posted discussion to: september98-forum at amsci-forum.amsci.org 

Dual Open-Access Strategy:
    BOAI-2: Publish your article in a suitable open-access journal
            whenever one exists.
    BOAI-1: Otherwise, publish your article in a suitable toll-access
            journal and also self-archive it.
    http://www.soros.org/openaccess/read.shtml




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