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May 12 CERN meeting on implementing the Berlin Declaration

Stevan Harnad harnad at ecs.soton.ac.uk
Mon May 10 09:29:17 EST 2004

As I alas cannot attend the Berlin-2 conference at CERN on May 12, 
I can only skywrite my hopes as to the outcome:

A successful outcome would be an agreement that Open Access (OA) to journal
articles reporting funded research must be provided by funded researchers
and institutions. That is *all* that is needed in order to implement
the Berlin Declaration.

Any further stipulations or partiality as to *how* that OA is provided will only
handicap and hamstring the implementation phase and diminish or even block its
success. The options (OA journals, OA self-archiving, copyright retention,
subsidising OA journal publication costs) can be mapped out, but they must *not*
be mandated.

The *only* thing that needs to be mandatory is OA *provision* (for funded
research). The rest all follows naturally from that where needed, on a
case by case basis.

It is *not* necessary to mandate copyright retention. That is one of the
*options* for OA provision. If we directly mandate copyright retention
we simply add more needless obstacles and handicaps, forcing all authors
into needless conflict with their publishers and forcing all institutions
into needless conflict with their authors.

Just leave it to authors and their institutions which of the OA options
they use to provide OA in each case (having listed all the options for
them)! But don't mandate any specific option.

    If you have a suitable OA journal to publish in, fine. But you are
    not required to do so; you are only required to provide OA.

    If you are able to retain copyright, that's fine. But you are not
    required to do so; you are only required to provide OA.

    If your institution can help fund OA journal publishing, that's
    fine. But it is not required to do so; it is only required to
    provide OA.

Eighty-three percent of journals already give their green light to OA
provision via self-archiving. Why would we want to make copyright-retention
into a gratuitous further conflict between author and publisher when it is *not
necessary* in order to provide OA for 83% of journals?


I very much hope that those attending the CERN meeting will see that it
is far more promising for OA provision if the implementation strategy
is a realistic one, not one bit more demanding than it needs to be in
order to generate 100% OA.

a. mandate OA provision
b. Specify the 2 routes: publishing article in OA journal or publishing it
   in TA journal and self-archiving it in an OA archive
c. Recommend copyright retention where possible
d. Recommend covering OA journal publishing costs where possible

Don't impose any particular option: just OA provision.

That's exactly what the Institutional Commitment calls for: no more, no less:

And that's exactly what is needed -- no more, no less -- to implement
the Berlin Declaration: Swan & Brown (2004)

    "asked authors to say how they would feel if their employer or funding
    body required them to deposit copies of their published articles in
    one or more... repositories. The vast majority... said they would do
    so willingly."

    Swan, A. & Brown, S.N. (2004) JISC/OSI Journal Authors Survey
    Report.  http://www.jisc.ac.uk/uploaded_documents/JISCOAreport1.pdf

Stevan Harnad

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