Pre-Green Fool’s-Gold and Post-Green Fair-Gold OA

I would be surprised if there weren’t subscription journals that would have accepted the Bohannon bogus paper for publication too.

But I would be even more surprised if as high a proportion of subscription journals — matched for field, age, size and impact-factor — would have accepted Bohannon’s bogus paper as did the pay-to-publish OA journals (“Gold OA”).

Subscription journals have to maintain enough of an appearance of peer review to sustain their subscriptions. Pay-to-publish Gold OA journals just have to maintain enough of an appearance of peer review to attract authors (and maybe the lure of pay-to-publish is enough to attract many authors in our publish-or-perish world without even the appearance of peer review, especially when the journal choice is justified by the fashionable allure — or excuse — of the journal’s being an OA journal).

This problem would not be remedied by just lowering Gold OA journal publication fees.

Nor is it a systemic problem of peer review.

It is a problem of peer review for pay-to-publish Gold OA journals at a time when there is still far too little OA and most journals are still subscription journals, most authors are still confused about OA, many think that OA is synonymous with Gold OA journals, and, most important, there are not yet enough effective mandates from research funders and institutions that require authors to make all their papers OA by depositing them in their institutional OA repositories (“Green OA”), regardless of where they were published.

If it were mandatory to make all papers Green OA, authors would simply deposit their peer-reviewed final drafts in their institutional OA repositories, free for all, immediately upon acceptance for publication. They would not have to pay to publish in Gold OA journals unless they especially wished to. Once all journal articles were being made Green OA in this way, institutions would be able to cancel all their journal subscriptions, which would in turn force all journals to cut costs and convert to Gold OA publishing at a much lower fee than is being charged now by OA journals: post-Green Fair Gold instead of today’s pre-Green Fool’s Gold.

But, most important, the reason the Fair Gold fee would be much lower is that the only remaining service that journals (all of them having become Gold OA) would be performing then, post-Green, would be peer review. All access-provision and archiving would be done by the global network of Green OA institutional repositories (so no more print or PDF editions or their costs). And for just peer review, journals would no longer be charging for publishing (which would then just amount to a tag certifying that the article had been accepted by journal J): they would be charging only for the peer review.

And each round of peer review (which peers do for free, by the way, so the only real cost is the qualified editor who evaluates the submission, picks the referees, and adjudicates the referee reports — plus the referee tracking and communication software) would be paid for on a “no-fault” basis, per round of peer review, whether the outcome was acceptance, rejection, or revision and resubmission for another (paid) round of peer review.

Unlike with today’s Fool’s Gold junk journals that were caught by Bohannon’s sting, not only will no-fault post-Green, Fair-Gold peer-review remove any incentive to accept lower quality papers (and thereby reduce the reputation of the journal) — because the journal is paid for the peer review service in any case — but it will help make Fair-Gold OA costs even lower, per round of peer review, because it will not wrap the costs of the rejected or multiply revised and re-refereed papers into the cost of each accepted paper, as they do now.

So post-Green Fair Gold will not only reduce costs but it will raise peer-review standards.

None of this is possible, however, unless Green OA is effectively mandated by all institutions and funders first.

Harnad, S. (2013) The Science Peer-Review “Sting”: Where the Fault Lies. Open Access Archivangelism 1059

________ (2010) No-Fault Peer Review Charges: The Price of Selectivity Need Not Be Access Denied or Delayed. D-Lib Magazine 16 (7/8).

______ (2007) The Green Road to Open Access: A Leveraged Transition. In: Anna Gacs. The Culture of Periodicals from the Perspective of the Electronic Age. L’Harmattan. 99-106.

______ (1998) The invisible hand of peer review. Nature [online] (5 Nov. 1998), Exploit Interactive 5 (2000): and in Shatz, B. (2004) (ed.) Peer Review: A Critical Inquiry. Rowland & Littlefield. Pp. 235-242.

Pre-emptive cancellation costs far, far more than it saves

Bjorn Brembs: “What you’re saying here is that cancellations now are premature, because too few articles are actually available in green repositories? That libraries should hold off because otherwise we face access problems? If that is what you are saying here, then it may be worth spelling it out more clearly as for me that was not immediately obvious. Unintended consequences in publisher behavior (as you allude to above) aside, what is your opinion on using the funds of canceled subscriptions to improve repository functionality to improve green acess? This should only mean a brief interruption of service for much improved access shortly thereafter and a speeding up of the transition you envisage?”

1. Cancelling journals because their policies are Green — i.e., because they do not embargo Green OA self-archiving — is both absurd and destructive: It simply encourages journals to adopt embargoes.

2. Cancelling journals because (some of) their articles are Green is premature and self-defeating: Less than 20% of journal articles are unembargoed Green (i.e., immediate) OA today, and they are distributed randomly across all journals. Hence to cancel any particular journal because the proportion of its articles that is available Green today exceeds this global average is, again, just to penalize that journal, perversely (as well as jeopardizing the growth of Green OA itself, gratuitously).

The time to consider cancelling journals is once Green OA mandates and hence Green OA are at or near 100% globally, and hence the proportion of journal articles that are green OA is at or near 100%. At this point all journals will be at or near 100% and the global cancellation pressure will affect all of them, forcing them all to cut inessential costs, downsize, and convert to Fair Gold OA. (Then — and only then — is the time to redirect a fraction of each institution’s annual subscription cancellation windfall savings to pay the much-reduced Fair-Gold publication fees for the institution’s authors’ own annual article output, affordably and sustainably. Trying instead to start doing this now, pre-emptively — while percentage Green is still low, Green growth is still slow and unstable, subscriptions to core journals still have to be paid, and Fool’s Gold is still over-priced and double-paid (and double-dipped, if hybrid Fool’s-Gold) — would be a profound failure to think ahead.

In sum, to cancel journals now based on the percentage of their articles that are accessible as Green OA now would be as as short-sighted and futile as it would be counterproductive: Like the Finch Fiasco and , premature cancellation would only serve to delay the optimal and inevitable for yet another gratuitously lost decade.

(I begin to think that that might even serve as a fair punishment for all this seemingly endless readiness to run off in all directions but the right one, without troubling to think anything through even a few steps ahead!)

The Green Road To OA — And Then On To Fair-Gold

Anonymous: “By the time we reach 100% Green OA, there will be few journals left to cancel and it will be far too late to start charging authors a “fair gold” price for something they feel they have been getting for free up till then.

Until Green OA is at or near 100%, a journal cannot be cancelled because its contents cannot be accessed any other way. And Green OA grows anarchically, not journal by journal but article by article.

So subscriptions will support publication for as long as they are sustainable; when global Green OA is at or near 100%, and at or near the point of making subscriptions unsustainable, journals will be forced to cut costs by phasing out all inessential products and services. That means print edition, online edition, access-provision and archiving. Nothing will be left for them to do except manage the peer review and certify the outcome with their journal name. All access provision and archiving will be offloaded onto the distributed global network of Green OA repositories.

And authors will not have to pay the (Fair Gold) cost of the journal’s peer review service out of pocket: Their institutions will pay for it out of a fraction of their annual windfall savings — from their subscription cancellations.

Harnad, S. (2007) The Green Road to Open Access: A Leveraged Transition. In: Anna Gacs. The Culture of Periodicals from the Perspective of the Electronic Age. L’Harmattan. 99-106.

Harnad, S. (2010) No-Fault Peer Review Charges: The Price of Selectivity Need Not Be Access Denied or Delayed. D-Lib Magazine 16 (7/8).

Some Reflection from Wellcome Would be Welcome

It’s time for the Wellcome Trust to think more deeply about its endlessly repeated mantra that the “cost of publication is part of the cost of funding research.”

The statement is true enough, but profoundly incomplete: As a private foundation, Wellcome only funds researchers’ research. It does not have to fund their institutional journal subscriptions, which are currently paying the costs of publication for all non-OA research. And without access to those subscription journals, researchers would lose access to everything that is not yet Open Access (OA) — which means access to most of currently published research worldwide. Moreover, if those subscriptions stopped being paid, no one would be paying the costs of publication.

In the UK, it is the tax-payer who pays the costs of publication (which is “part of the cost of funding research”), by paying the cost of journal access via institutional subscriptions. It is fine to wish that to be otherwise, but it cannot just be wished away, and Wellcome has never had to worry about paying for it.

The Wellcome slogan and solution — the “cost of publication is part of the cost of funding research,” so pay pre-emptively for Gold OA — works well enough for Wellcome, and as a wish list. But it is not a formula for getting us all from here (c. 30% OA, mostly Green) to there (100% OA). It does not scale up from Wellcome to the UK, let alone to the rest of the world.

What scales up is mandating Green OA. Once Green OA reaches 100%, journals can be cancelled, forcing them to downsize and convert to Fair Gold, single-paid at an affordable, sustainable price, instead of double-paid pre-emptively at today’s arbitrarily inflated Fools-Gold price.

Hence it is exceedingly bad advice on Wellcome’s part, to urge the UK, that because the “cost of publication is part of the cost of funding research,” the UK should double-pay (subscriptions + Gold OA) for what Wellcome itself only needs to single-pay. (And this is without even getting into the sticky question of overpricing and double-dipping.)

Wellcome took a bold and pioneering step in 2004 in mandating OA.

But in since cleaving unreflectively and unresponsively to pre-emptive payment for Gold OA as the preferred means of providing OA — because Wellcome does not have to pay for subscriptions — the net effect of the Wellcome pioneering intiative is now beginning to turn negative rather than positive.

I hope the BIS Report will encourage Wellcome to re-think the rigid route that it has been promoting for a decade, culminating in the Finch Fiasco.

Green OA Repository Infrastructure are Permanent, not “Transitional”

In his interview with Richard Poynder, Cameron Neylon, as always, makes many valid and astute points. But there is one thing about which I think he is quite profoundly mistaken:

CN: While we can generate wider access with relatively little transitional costs through repository-mediated OA this won?t help to bring down subscriptions costs.”

Apart from the fact that lowering subscription (or publication) costs and providing open access to publisher research are not the same thing at all (and that the urgent and overwhelming priority of Open Access is Access), I think Cameron underestimates the profound causal connection between them:

No, the primary purpose of repository-mediated OA (Green OA) is not to serve as a transition to Gold OA publishing: it is to provide OA.

But in providing the infrastructure for providing OA, the global network of Green OA repositories also provides the means of downsizing publishing to just the cost of managing peer review (which peers provide for free). All the rest of the costs of pre-Green-OA publishing (access-provision, archiving) are — post-Green — offloaded and distributed across the global network of Green OA repositories (while the print and online editions and their costs can be jettisoned completely).

That is why the small residual cost of post-Green Gold OA will be affordable, sustainable “Fair Gold” OA whereas the current cost of pre-Green Gold OA is arbitrarily inflated “Fools Gold” OA. And that’s not just because the global Green OA infrastructure is not yet in place and absorbing all the costs of access-provision and archiving, but because subscriptions are still in place and have to keep being paid until those articles are made Green OA!

Hence pre-Green Gold means not only inflated prices but double-payment (for (1) subscriptions to all the must-have journals that are non-OA plus (2) Fools-Gold fees for pre-Green Gold OA journals) — not to mention the further possibility of (3) publisher double-dipping in the case of hybrid Fools Gold.

So it is not at all the case that there is “a role for Green OA and institutional repositories, although perhaps only a transitional one“: Green OA repositories can and will provide not only 100% OA, permanently, but they will thereby also make it possible (indeed necessary) for journal publishing to downsize and convert to Fair Gold — and at the same time release the institutonal subscription funds, of which a fraction can then be used to pay (rather than double-pay) for Fair Gold.

Cameron is completely right, however, that “[t]he single most important task today is putting in place robust and transparent mechanisms to report on [Green OA mandatory] policy compliance? and monitor the growth of access.” That done, effectively, the transition to Fair Gold OA will then take care of itself.

(I would close by emphasizing that just as providing OA itself is incomparably more important and urgent than publishing reform, so OA’s provision of access to all users, rather than just to subscribers, is incomparably more important and urgent than providing further re-use rights, over and above online access free for all: Fair Gold and all the re-use rights that users need and authors want to provide will come, as surely as day follows night — but Green OA must come first.)

Harnad, S. (2007) The Green Road to Open Access: A Leveraged Transition. In: Anna Gacs. The Culture of Periodicals from the Perspective of the Electronic Age. L’Harmattan. 99-106.

Harnad, S. (2010) No-Fault Peer Review Charges: The Price of Selectivity Need Not Be Access Denied or Delayed. D-Lib Magazine 16 (7/8).

On Trying to Hold Green OA and Fair-Gold OA Hostage to Subscriptions and Fools-Gold

The cynical, self-serving spin of Springer’s replies to Richard Poynder is breathtaking: Is it a sign of Springer’s new ownership?

Despite the double-talk, applying a 12-month embargo where the policy has been to endorse unembargoed immediate-Green for 10 years could hardly be described (or justified) as “simplifying” things for the author, or anyone. It would be a pure and simple bid to maintain and maximize revenue streams from both subscriptions and Gold OA. (Note that I say “would” because in fact Springer is still Green and hence still on the Side of the Angels: read on.)

Green OA means free, immediate, permanent online access; hence a 12-month embargo hardly makes Green OA sustainable, as Springer suggests! It’s not OA at all.

As stated previously, the distinction between an author’s institutional repository and an author’s “personal website” (which is of course likewise institutional) is a distinction between different sectors of an institutional disk. The rest is a matter of tagging.

The purpose of research, and of tax-payer funding of research, and of the online medium itself, is certainly not to make the subscription model sustainable for publishers.

The only service from publishers that needs to be sustained is the management of peer review. Researchers already do all the rest for free (write the papers and peer-review the papers); if they can now also archive their peer-reviewed papers and provide online access to them for all users, what justification is there for saying that the subscription model needs to be sustained?

Paying for Gold OA today, at its current arbitrarily inflated price for a bundle of no longer necessary products and services (print, PDF, archiving, access-provision), is paying for Fools-Gold.

And paying for it while subscriptions continue to be sustainable — hence while paying for them continues to be essential for institutions — is double-payment: Subscription fees plus Fools-Gold OA fees.

If, in addition. the payment is to the very same hybrid-Gold publisher, then it’s not just double-paid Fools-Gold: it also allows double-dipping by the publisher.

Nor is double-dipping corrected if (mirabile dictu) a publisher really does faithfully lower annual subscription fees by every penny of its total annual hybrid Gold revenues, because if an institution (as one subscriber out of, say, 2000 subscribing institutions) pays $XXX in Fools-Gold OA fees, over and above its subscription fees, then its own share of the subscription rebate is just 1/2000th of the $XXX that it has double-paid the hybrid Gold publisher. The rest of the rebate goes to the other 1999 beneficieries of that institution’s hybrid-Gold Fools-Gold double-payment.

And this disparity for the hybrid double-payer would perist until (as Springer hopes), all institutions are paying today’s Fools-Gold instead of subscriptions. That would be a perfect way for publishers to sustain today’s revenue streams, come what may — and that’s exactly what Springer hopes to do, by holding Green OA hostage to embargoes, and thereby holding institutions hostage to subscriptions untill they are all coughing up the same amount for Fools Gold instead, its price determined by whatever sustains today’s subscription revenues rather than what institutions and researchers actually need — and what it actually costs.

This is why Green OA is anathema to publishers, even as they purport to be “all for OA.” For Green OA is the only thing that would force publishers to downsize to the true essentials of peer-reviewed research publishing in the online era, instead of continuing to exact vastly inflated prices for mostly obsolete products and services, just in order to sustain their current revenue streams and their current M.O..

(Of course Springer changed its policy in part because of Finch/RCUK: Green OA and Green OA mandates were already anathema, but Green publishers back-pedalling on that alone would have looked very bad: all stick and no carrot. Finch/RCUK provided the perfect carrot: UK government funds to pay for Fools-Gold, including hybrid Fools-Gold — with the UK government not only funding the Fools-Gold option, but explicitly preferring it over cost-free Green. An offer no publisher could refuse, and a perfect cover for taking it, under the pretext of complying with government mandates, simplifying things for authors, and facilitating OA — in the form of lucrative Fools-Gold OA.)

But it’s not that easy to keep holding the entire worldwide research community hostage to an obsolete technology and outrageous, unnecessary prices, simply by embargoing Green OA.

First, as noted, the distinction between an author’s institutional repository and the author’s institutional website won’t wash: The difference is just in what we name them. Springer authors can go ahead and provide immediate, unembargoed Green OA based on Springer’s current policy.

But even if Springer were then to go on to bite the bullet, embargo all OA self-archiving, and admit that it has stopped being a Green publisher (iin order to protect its current revenue streams come what may), authors could still deposit immediately; and if they wished to comply with Springer’s embargo, they could set access to the immediate-deposit as Closed Access. The institutional repository’s facilitated reprint request Button can then allow any would-be user to request — and the author to provide — an eprint with just one click each, almost-immediately.

This “Almost-OA” will not only serve research needs almost as well as OA itself during the embargo, but it will also have the same effect, almost as quickly, as immediate Green OA, in forcing publishers to cut costs, downsize, and convert to Fair-Gold, at an afforable, sustainable price, precisely because it make the subscription model unsustainable.

This is why it is so important that all institutional and funder mandates should be immediate-deposit mandates (regardless of whether the deposit is immediately-OA or embargoed).

Springer: “there is widespread, if not universal, acceptance that systematic and widespread author manuscript deposit (?green? open access) of subscription-based journal articles in repositories requires an embargo period in order to ensure the sustainability of the journals”

The sustainability at issue for Springer is not the sustainability of journals but the sustainability of the subscription model (or an equal-sized revenue stream for publishers).

And the only ones convinced that the subscription model or an equal-sized revenue stream needs to be sustained at all costs are publishers.

Springer: “Springer, which has been committed to open access in deeds, not just words, for almost 10 years, is focused on offering two models which we believe to be stable and sustainable: embargoed green open access, and immediate gold open access.”

That’s two models that are designed to sustain Springer’s current revenue streams: charging for Fools Gold and embargoing cost-free Green, so that Green cannot provide immediate OA and force down the price of pre-Green Fools Gold to post-Green Fair Gold.

Springer: “We modified the [former Springer unembargoed Green] policy to make it simple and consistent for our authors, for funders and for our employees, as all forms of open access continue to grow.”

Translation: We embargoed Green in order to hold OA hostage to our current revenue streams.

Springer: “In order to ensure that green open access deposit remains sustainable on a large scale, we are standardizing the embargo period for all repository archiving to 12 months.”

Translation: We embargoed Green in order to hold OA hostage to our current revenue streams.

Springer: “this means that Springer authors can deposit into a funder repository after a 12-month embargo period even if the funder does not require the author to do so.”

Whereas formerly Springer authors could deposit immediately upon publication. describes institutional repositories, e.g. hosted by Eprint, as “a collection of digital documents [? which] share the same metadata, making their contents interoperable with one another.” Author websites on the other hand serve various purposes and are not specifically created for document collection.”

All websites have metadata. Interoperability allows the metadata to be harvested by service-providers. Interoperability is a matter of degree. All websites are harvestable (e.g., by google). What is Springer’s point? That there is a threshold on degree of interoperability that distinguishes an “institutional website” from an “institutional repository”? There is no such threshold point. And if there were, it would be arbitrary and irrelevant to the justification of a Green OA embargo, which would, as always, rest purely on the publisher’s attempt to hold OA hostage to its current revenue streams.

Springer: “We have eliminated from our policy the distinction between institutional repositories and others, such as subject and funder repositories, and created one simple rule that applies across the board — authors may deposit in any repository they like, and regardless of whether they are required by a mandate or not, as long as the embargo period is observed.”

Translation: Formerly we endorsed immediate, unembargoed Green OA self-archiving, now we are embargoing it in order to hold OA hostage to our current revenue streams.

Springer: “This supports green OA by making it sustainable, and therefore making it possible for Springer as a publisher to actively encourage and facilitate it. It also helps to clarify the respective benefits of the Green and Gold models, each of which is likely to have a place going forward.”

Translation: We embargoed Green in order to hold OA hostage to our current revenue streams.

Harnad, S. (2007) The Green Road to Open Access: A Leveraged Transition. In: Anna Gacs (Ed). The Culture of Periodicals from the Perspective of the Electronic Age. L’Harmattan. 99-106.

Harnad, S. (2008) Waking OA?s ?Slumbering Giant?: The University’s Mandate To Mandate Open Access. New Review of Information Networking 14(1): 51 – 68

Harnad, S. (2009) The PostGutenberg Open Access Journal. In: Cope, B. & Phillips, A (Eds.) The Future of the Academic Journal. Chandos.

Harnad, S. (2010) No-Fault Peer Review Charges: The Price of Selectivity Need Not Be Access Denied or Delayed. D-Lib Magazine 16 (7/8).

Harnad, S. (2011) Gold Open Access Publishing Must Not Be Allowed to Retard the Progress of Green Open Access Self-Archiving. Logos: The Journal of the World Book Community. 21(3-4): 86-93

Harnad, S. (2011) Open Access to Research: Changing Researcher Behavior Through University and Funder Mandates. JEDEM Journal of Democracy and Open Government 3 (1): 33-41.

Harnad, S (2012) The Optimal and Inevitable outcome for Research in the Online Age. CILIP Update September 2012

Houghton, J. & Swan, A. (2013) Planting the Green Seeds for a Golden Harvest: Comments and Clarifications on “Going for Gold”. D-Lib Magazine 19 (1/2)

Fools Gold From Emerald

Rebecca Marsh, Director of External Relations and Services, Emerald Group Publishing Limited & Tony Roche, Publishing Director of Emerald Group Publishing Limited have posted their defence of the Emerald policy changes reported by Richard Poynder: “Open Access: Emerald’s Green Starts to Fade“.

First, a paraphrase of what Marsh & Roche wrote:

(1) All Emerald authors may do immediate, unembargoed Open Access self-archiving if they wish, but (2) not if they must. If they must self-archive, they must wait 24 months or ask individually for permission.

The sensible Emerald author will self-archive immediately, and ignore clause (2) completely. It is empty, unverifiable, unenforceable, pseudo-legal FUD that has been added as a perverse effect of the folly of the UK Finch Committee recommendations.

The Emerald policy tweak is obviously to cash in on the money that the UK has decided to squander on pre-emptive “Fools Gold” OA, as well as to try to fend off universal Green OA as long as is humanly possible.

Below I reproduce the Emerald representatives’ posting’s text, cutting out the empty verbiage, to make the double-talk clearly visible and comprehensible.

“…Emerald has had a Green Open Access [OA] policy for over a decade. [All Emerald] authors who personally wish to self-archive the pre- or post-print version of their article on their own website or in a repository… can do this immediately upon official publication of their paper. This principle continues to underpin our Green OA policy and remains unchanged….

“…[Emerald] has provided an alternative route to OA for researchers who are mandated to make their papers Open Access immediately, or after a specified period. We also set the Article Processing Charge (APC) at a relatively low level to assist authors…

“Emerald has… requested that authors wait 24 months before depositing their post-prints if a mandate is in place. Where a mandate exists for deposit immediately on publication or with a shorter mandate but no APC fund is provided, we invite all authors to contact us…”

Plans by universities and research funders to pay the costs of Gold OA pre-emptively today are premature.

Funds are short; 80% of journals (including virtually all the top journals) are still subscription-based, tying up the potential funds to pay for Gold OA. Hence, for institutions, paying pre-emptively for Gold OA today means double-paying — subscriptions for their incoming articles plus APCs for their outgoing articles– and in the case of “hybrid Gold,” when both sums are paid to the very same journal, it also means double-dipping by publishers.

Even apart from double-paying and double-dipping, the asking APC price per article for Gold OA today (whether “pure” or “hybrid”) is still inflated; and there is concern that paying to publish may also inflate acceptance rates as well as lower quality standards to maximize revenue in the case of “pure Gold” OA.

What is needed now is for all universities and funders worldwide to mandate OA self-archiving (of authors’ final peer-reviewed drafts, immediately upon acceptance for publication) (“Green OA”).

That will provide immediate OA; and if and when universal Green OA goes on to make subscriptions unsustainable (because users are satisfied with just the Green OA versions) that will in turn induce journals to cut costs (phasing out the print edition and online edition, offloading access-provision and archiving onto the worldwide network of Green OA Institutional Repositories), downsize to just providing the service of peer review, and convert to the Gold OA cost-recovery model; meanwhile, the subscription cancellations will have released the funds to pay this residual service cost.

The natural way to charge for the service of peer review then will be on a “no-fault basis,” with the author’s institution or funder paying for each round of refereeing, regardless of outcome (acceptance, revision/re-refereeing, or rejection). This will minimize cost while protecting against inflated acceptance rates and decline in quality standards.

This is the difference between today’s pre-emptive pre-Green double-paid, double-dipped over-priced pre-Green “Fools Gold” and tomorrow’s affordable, sustainable, post-Green Fair Gold.

Harnad, S. (2010) No-Fault Peer Review Charges: The Price of Selectivity Need Not Be Access Denied or Delayed. D-Lib Magazine 16 (7/8).

Houghton, J. & Swan, A. (2013) Planting the Green Seeds for a Golden Harvest: Comments and Clarifications on “Going for Gold”. D-Lib Magazine 19 (1/2)

Publisher Double Dealing on OA

This is a comment on Richard Poynder’s interview on Emerald’s “fading” Green OA policy.

Both the perverse effects of the UK’s Finch/RCUK policy and their antidote are as simple to describe and understand as they were to predict:

The Perverse Effects of the Finch/RCUK Policy: Besides being eager to cash in on the double-paid (subscription fees + Gold OA fees), double-dipped over-priced hybrid Gold bonanza that Finch/RCUK has foolishly dangled before their eyes, publishers like Emerald are also trying to hedge their bets and clinch the deal by adopting or extending Green OA embargoes to try to force authors to pick and pay for the hybrid Gold option instead of picking cost-free Green.

The Antidote to the Perverse Effects of the Finch/RCUK Policy: To remedy this, both funders and institutions need merely (1) distinguish deposit-date from the date that access to the deposit is made OA, (2) mandate immediate-deposit, and (3) implement the repository’s facilitated eprint request Button to tide over user needs during any OA embargo.

All funders and institutions can and should adopt the immediate-deposit mandate immediately. Together with the Button it moots embargoes (and once widely adopted, will ensure emargoes’ inevitable and deserved demise).

And as an insurance policy (and a fitting one, to counterbalance publishers’ insurance policy of prolonging Green embargoes to try to force authors to pay for hybrid Gold) funders and institutions should (4) designate date-stamped immediate-deposit as the sole mechanism for submitting published papers for annual performance review (e.g., the Liège policy) or for national research assessment (as HEFCE has proposed for REF).

As to the page that Emerald has borrowed from Elsevier, consisting of pseudo-legal double-talk implying that

you may deposit immediately if you needn’t, but not if you must

That is pure FUD and can and should be completely ignored. (Any author foolish enough to be taken in by such double-talk deserves all the needless usage and impact losses they will get!)

UK Gold Open Access Infrastructure

What UK institutions (and RCUK) need far more urgently than an RCUK compliance mechanism to collect, monitor and disburse the UK funds for Gold double-payments (sic) is an RCUK compliance monitoring mechanism for cost-free Green OA — and HEFCE/REF have proposed a natural way to accomplish this:

1. HEFCE proposes to make immediate deposit of the final draft of peer reviewed articles in the institutional repository, immediately upon acceptance for publication, a requirement for eligibility for submission to REF 2020.

2. Immediate deposit is required (a) irrespective of whether the deposited draft is made immediately OA or embargoed for an allowable interval, (b) irespective of whether it is published in a subscription journal or a Gold OA journal, (c) irrespective of whether further re-use rights are licensed (e.g., CC-BY).

3. The immediate-deposit would apply immediately, since researchers cannot foresee which 4 articles will prove to be their best (and hence submitted to REF) 6 years hence, and delayed deposit would make the articles ineligible.

4. Hence the natural procedure for each institution is to systematically collect and store the calendar date of the acceptance letter as well as the date of deposit for all articles published. (The former can be made a repository meta-data field; the latter already is.)

That done, institutions can go back to counting the gold chicks allotted them by RCUK’s golden hen, knowing that their RCUK mandate requirements are already fulfilled via Green. No worries about running out of money to pay for publication. 

And the added bonus is that if the Gold is not spent on paying publishers even more money than is being spent already for subscriptions, any leftover can now be spent on facilitating and implementing Green OA and monitoring compliance (see replies of Doug Kell to the BIS Parliamentary Select Committee about what can be done with the RCUK Gold OA funds if there is no need to spend them on Gold OA). 

The natural next step toward global OA will be to integrate institutional and funder mandates worldwide to make them convergent and mutually reinforcing. HEFCE/REF have shown the way to do so. 

This will also put the UK back into the worldwide OA leadership role it had from 2004-2012 and then lost with the Finch Committee’s egregious proposal to mandate paid Gold (by restricting UK authors’ right to choose their journals for their quality standards alone, rather than their cost-recovery model, and by redirecting scarce research funds to double-pay publishers for Gold OA instead of just providing cost-free Green OA).

What Open Access Needs Today Is Mandates, Not Money

European Union requires Open Access: “Money is essential in OA, and only governments are able to provide sufficient funds on a major scale.

This conflates author-pays publishing in “Gold” OA journals with cost-free author self-archiving of articles published in subscription journals (“Green” OA).

No extra money is needed for Green OA self-archiving. It just requires a clear mandate (requirement) to self-archive, by depositing the author’s final, peer-reviewed draft in the author’s institutional repository immediately upon acceptance for publication. The deposit should be made OA immediately (or after an embargo period whose allowable length should be as short as possible).

Research Councils UK, under the influence of the publisher lobby, has adopted a mandate that prefers to pay for Gold OA, though it also (reluctantly) allows Green OA. Fortunately, however, HEFCE (Higher Education Founding Council of England) has proposed to mandate immediate deposit of all articles as a precondition for eligibility for evaluation in the Research Excellence Framework (REF), an important source of top-sliced research funding for UK universities.

The EU OA mandate should be for Green OA only, with immediate deposit required (and no embargoes allowed to exceed 6 months). No extra money should be provided for Gold OA. Publication costs today are still being covered in full by worldwide institutional journal subscriptions. So paying for Gold OA today entails double-paying: subscriptions plus Gold OA fees (poached from scarce research funds).

Journal subscriptions cannot be canceled until all journal articles are available by some other means. Globally mandating Green OA will provide that other means. Then subscriptions can be cancelled, releasing the institutional funds to pay for Gold OA without having to double pay — and also driving down the price of Gold OA (currently vastly inflated) to fair, affordable, sustainable levels, by offloading all access-provision and archiving onto the worldwide distributed network of Green OA institutional repositories (phasing out the publisher’s print and online edition and their costs):

Post-Green Gold OA will be “Fair Gold.” Today’s pre-emptive, Pre-Green Gold OA is profligate “Fool’s Gold.”

Harnad, S. (2007) The Green Road to Open Access: A Leveraged Transition. In: Anna Gacs. The Culture of Periodicals from the Perspective of the Electronic Age. L’Harmattan. 99-106.

____ (2008) Waking OA?s ?Slumbering Giant?: The University’s Mandate To Mandate Open Access. New Review of Information Networking 14(1): 51 – 68

____ (2009) The PostGutenberg Open Access Journal. In: Cope, B. & Phillips, A (Eds.) The Future of the Academic Journal. Chandos.

____ (2010) No-Fault Peer Review Charges: The Price of Selectivity Need Not Be Access Denied or Delayed. D-Lib Magazine 16 (7/8).

____ (2011) Open Access to Research: Changing Researcher Behavior Through University and Funder Mandates. JEDEM Journal of Democracy and Open Government 3 (1): 33-41.

____ (2012) United Kingdom’s Open Access Policy Urgently Needs a Tweak. D-Lib Magazine 18: 9/10

Houghton, J. & Swan, A. (2013) Planting the Green Seeds for a Golden Harvest: Comments and Clarifications on “Going for Gold” D-Lib Magazine 19: 1/2