Competition for fee funding

Philip Davis, Paying for Open Access Publication Charges, Scholarly Kitchen, April 30, 2009.  Excerpt:

…The [RIN report on Paying for open access publication charges] first covers why central funds are necessary for funding publication fees [at fee-based OA journals]….

[B]ut the devil is always in the details, and I was particularly interested to see how the report would approach governance of these central pots of publication money, among them:

  1. Who gets to make the funding decisions?
  2. How does one determine financial support when articles include authors from other institutions?
  3. How does one establish priority for funding competing requests if funds become limited? And most importantly,
  4. How does one deal with appeals when funding requests are denied?

The report provides no answers to these questions except that each institution needs to address them.  Questions #1 and #2 are the easiest of the bunch.  Beware of #3 and #4.

The function of publication is not merely to disseminate research results — publication also serves as a way to evaluate faculty for promotion and tenure.  Those who deny a publication fund request must understand the implications of their decision on the career path of the authors.  The time during which a new faculty member must establish a track record in the literature is terrifyingly short.  A denied publication can impact the tenure decision of a junior faculty member.  Even the delay incurred over an appeal should not be taken lightly.

Unfortunately, I have read no open access publication policy that addresses these important issues:

[M]any library administrators are pushing for these author funds, and in many cases, the monies are simply being skimmed off existing library collection funds or were provided as a one-time gift from a Vice Chancellor before the economy took a nosedive.   As the RIN report states on page 23, there is clearly not enough money to support both author-pays and subscription-pays models.

If use of these author funds takes off, prepare for some road rage.

Comment.  Davis is right that universities launching these funds should be designing procedures to deal with appeals and conflicts.  If the demand on the funds is low today, it may grow steadily over time, just as the number of funds continues to grow.  He has raised these issues before (1, 2), and I responded to an earlier version this way:

I concede that these scenarios are ugly, but I still want universities to join foundations in their willingness to pay author-side fees, and to start thinking about allocation procedures that faculty will accept as fair….

[Note that] to the extent that no-fee OA journals spread, universities will not have to pay author-side fees or adjudicate disputes between rival professors applying for limited funds….

The problems may be tractable:  after all, libraries currently pay more (much more) for journals in some disciplines than others without triggering campus wars.  Or they might be as difficult and ugly as [Davis] predicted….

The ACM and Harvard authors

Harvard computer scientist Michael Mitzenmacher reports that the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) does not accept Harvard’s author addendum and asks Harvard authors to seek a waiver from the school’s OA mandate.  In a clarification sent to Mizenmacher’s colleague, Salil Vadhan, the ACM explained that it does allow OA archiving in the Harvard repository but does not allow all the reuse rights required by the Harvard addendum.  The ACM and Harvard’s Office of Scholarly Communication are discussing the matter.  See Mitzenmacher’s post, The ACM Does NOT Support Open Access, My Biased Coin, April 29, 2009.

Stevan Harnad underscores the ACM clarification:  that the ACM journals are green and allow author-initiated preprint and postprint archiving.  See his post, APA Kerfuffle Redux: No, ACM is NOT Anti-OA, Open Access Archivangelism, April 30, 2009.

Comment.  I suspect that many publishers are like the ACM, either in permitting gratis but not libre OA archiving, or in permitting only a more limited form of libre archiving than Harvard would like.  Hence, the result of the Harvard-ACM discussions should have wider application.

Update (5/1/09).  See the second installment of Stevan Harnad’s comments.  Excerpt:

The nuances here are about the differences between "gratis" OA (free online access) and "libre" OA (free online access plus certain further re-use rights).

I will make no secret of what my own view on this is — and I’ve been at this for a very, very long time: Free online access ("gratis OA") is all you need in order to make all the rest happen….

Libre OA asks for more, and entails more complications. Hence it is both harder to agree on adopting a Libre OA mandate, and harder to get compliance (rather than opt-out). The right strategy is hence to stick to mandating Gratis OA for now. Gratis OA is urgent; addenda can wait….

APA Kerfuffle Redux: No, ACM is NOT Anti-OA


SUMMARY: The suggestion that the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) does not support Open Access (OA) is incorrect (as was a similar suggestion about the American Psychological Association (APA) a year ago). The ACM is fully Green on both preprint and postprint self-archiving: it already formally endorses immediate, unembargoed deposit in the author’s Institutional Repository (IR). What the ACM does not support is the blanket adoption of the author’s addendum, which asks for more than this.
    The author’s addendum is welcome when there is agreement to adopt it; but it is not necessary in order to provide OA when the journal is already Green on OA (as 63% of journals already are). All ACM authors can already make their articles OA without it. The institutions that mandate Green OA self-archiving via the author’s addendum should optimize their mandates so that their authors can comply with them by depositing in their IR even without also having to adopt the author’s addendum when publishing in fully Green journals, rather than leaving authors with no option but to opt out of depositing altogether in such cases, if the journal does not agree to adopt the author’s addendum. (Harvard has already modified its mandate so as to require deposit even when the author opts out of adopting the author’s addendum.)


Harvard’s Michael Mitzenmacher suggests — though somewhat cautiously, acknowledging that there might be some misinformation involved — that “The ACM Does NOT Support Open Access.”

This is reminiscent of a similar case last July, in which it was the APA (American Psychological Association) that was being raked over the coals as being anti-OA (for trying to charge a $2500 deposit fee for making a direct central deposit in PubMed Central in compliance with NIH’s Green OA self-archiving mandate). The APA later backed off the fee, but even before that I had to point out that the APA was already on the side of the angels insofar as OA was concerned, because it was completely Green on immediate, unembargoed OA self-archiving of both the preprint and the postprint — but only in the author’s Institutional Repository (IR). Since this already makes the IR deposit OA, I suggested that it was NIH that ought to optimize its mandate by allowing authors to fulfill it through direct deposit in their own IR, instead of insisting on direct central deposit in PubMed Central; the metadata of the IR deposit can then be automatically exported to PubMed Central via the SWORD protocol. (NIH is now considering adopting this option.)

By exactly the same token, it is completely incorrect to say that the ACM (Association for Computing Machinery) does not support Open Access. Just like the APA, the ACM is completely Green on both preprint and postprint self-archiving. That means it too endorses immediate, unembargoed deposit in the author’s institutional repository. What the ACM does not support is the author’s addendum, which asks for more than this.

Current standard ACM copyright agreement:

    Rights Retained by Authors and Original Copyright Holders Under the ACM copyright transfer agreement, the original copyright holder retains… the right to post author-prepared versions of the work covered by ACM copyright in a personal collection on their own Home Page and on a publicly accessible server of their employer, and in a repository legally mandated by the agency funding the research on which the Work is based. Such posting is limited to noncommercial access and personal use by others…

Author’s Addendum:

    Author?s Retention of Rights. Notwithstanding any terms in the Publication Agreement to the contrary, AUTHOR and PUBLISHER agree that in addition to any rights under copyright retained by Author in the Publication Agreement, Author retains: (i) the rights to reproduce, to distribute, to publicly perform, and to publicly display the Article in any medium for noncommercial purposes; (ii) the right to prepare derivative works from the Article; and (iii) the right to authorize others to make any non-commercial use of the Article so long as Author receives credit as author and the journal in which the Article has been published is cited as the source of first publication of the Article.

Now the author’s addendum is a fine, indeed desirable thing, when there is agreement to adopt it; but it is not necessary in order to provide OA — and particularly not when the journal is already Green on OA (as 63% of journals already are). So since the ACM journals are all already completely Green, there is no need for the author’s addendum. ACM authors can already make all of their ACM articles OA without it. As in the case of NIH, the institutions that mandate Green OA via the author’s addendum should optimize their mandates so that their authors can fulfill their mandates by depositing in their IR even without the author’s addendum in the case of articles published in journals that are already Green on immediate OA self-archiving (as ACM journals are), rather than leaving authors with no option but to opt out of depositing altogether under those conditions. (Harvard has already modified its mandate so as to require deposit even when the author opts out of adopting the author’s addendum.)

ACM’s current President, Wendy Hall, is not only the one who adopted the world’s first Green OA Mandate (when she was Head of the School of Electronics and Computer Science of the University of Southampton), but she was also instrumental in the adoption of the European Research Council’s Green OA mandate, and other Green OA mandates as well. If she is to be written to — as Michael Mitzenmacher suggests — it should be to thank her for her enormous contributions to OA, rather than to complain that ACM has not yet agreed to the author’s addendum.

In Defense of the American Psychological Association’s Green OA Policy (July 2008)
The OA Deposit-Fee Kerfuffle: APA’s Not Responsible; NIH Is. PART I.
The OA Deposit-Fee Kerfuffle: APA’s Not Responsible; NIH Is. PART II.

Upgrade Harvard’s Opt-Out Copyright Retention Mandate: Add a No-Opt-Out Deposit Clause (Feb 2008)

NIH Open to Closer Collaboration With Institutional Repositories (Feb 2009)

Harvard Mandate Adds ID/OA, Hurray! (Mar 2009)

Stevan Harnad
American Scientist Open Access Forum

Google adds search for public data

Ola Rosling, Adding search power to public data, Official Google Blog, April 28, 2009.

… We just launched a new search feature that makes it easy to find and compare public data. …

If you go to Google.com and type in [unemployment rate] or [population] followed by a U.S. state or county, you will see the most recent estimates:

Once you click the link, you’ll go to an interactive chart that lets you add and remove data for different geographical areas. …

The data we’re including in this first launch represents just a small fraction of all the interesting public data available on the web. There are statistics for prices of cookies, CO2 emissions, asthma frequency, high school graduation rates, bakers’ salaries, number of wildfires, and the list goes on. Reliable information about these kinds of things exists thanks to the hard work of data collectors gathering countless survey forms, and of careful statisticians estimating meaningful indicators that make hidden patterns of the world visible to the eye. All the data we’ve used in this first launch are produced and published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the U.S. Census Bureau’s Population Division. …

Since Google’s acquisition of Trendalyzer two years ago, we have been working on creating a new service that make lots of data instantly available for intuitive, visual exploration. Today’s launch is a first step in that direction. We hope people will find this search feature helpful, whether it’s used in the classroom, the boardroom or around the kitchen table. We also hope that this will pave the way for public data to take a more central role in informed public conversations. …

See also Google’s Information for public data publishers:

… Google wants to eventually display data from other governmental agencies, research institutes, and other private organizations as well. To do so, we want to identify free, authoritative, high-quality data, irrespective of topic and locale. We are interested in both aggregated statistics and the underlying raw data from which they were derived. Other types of structured information like reference lists and classifications are also of great interest. We will not use any data that compromises the privacy of individuals or infringes upon any proprietary rights.

If you are a data publisher, get your data out to a wider audience, through Google, by telling us about your public data. …

APA adds Wellcome-compliant OA option

Robert Kiley, American Psychological Association develops Wellcome-compliant OA option, UK PubMed Central Blog, April 28, 2009.

The American Psychological Association (APA) – publisher of titles such as Journal of Abnormal Psychology and Psychological Bulletin – have developed a Wellcome-Trust compliant author-pays model.

In return for paying an OA fee ($4000) APA will deposit on behalf of the author, the final, published version directly into PMC, where it will be mirrored to UKPMC.

Such papers will be licenced such that anyone may “access, download, copy, display, and redistribute this article or manuscript as well as adapt, translate, or data and text mine the content contained in this document”, as long as this is done for non-commercial purposes, and proper attribution is given.

Upon submission to an APA journal, Wellcome-funded authors will be asked to identify their manuscript as being Wellcome Trust funded. If the papers is accepted for publication, Wellcome funded authors should complete this form to ensure that APA journals will deposit the manuscript in PMC.

As of April 2009, this author-pays option is only available to Wellcome-funded researchers.