The Access Gap at the Research Growth Tip

The EC-commisioned Science-Metrix study has a lot of interesting and useful information that I hope the EC will apply and use.

Access Timing. The fundamental problem highlighted by the Science-Metrix findings is timing: Over 50% of all articles published since 2007 are freely available today. But the trouble is that their percentage in the most critical years, namely, the 1-2 years following publication, is far lower than that! This is partly because of publisher OA embargoes, partly because of author fears and sluggishness, but mostly because not enough strong, effective OA mandates have as yet been adopted by institutions and funders. I hope the Science-Metrix study will serve to motivate and accelerate the adoption of strong, effective OA mandates worldwide. That will narrow the gap at the all-important growth tip of research, which is its first 1-2 years.

A few things to bear in mind:

1. Delayed Access. Publishers have essentially resigned themselves to Delayed Access — i.e., free online access 1-2 years after publication. They know they can’t stop it, and they know it doesn’t have a significant effect on subscription revenues. Hence the real battle-ground for OA is the growth region of research: the 1-2 years following publication. That’s why OA mandates are so important.

2. Embargoes. Most OA mandates allow an OA embargo during the first year folllowing publication. But there are ways that immediate research needs can be fulfilled even during an OA embargo, namely, via institutional repositories’ semi-automatic copy-request Button. For this Button to fulfill its purposes, however, OA mandates must require deposit immediately upon acceptance for publication, not just after a 6-12-month OA embargo has elapsed. There are still too few such immediate-deposit mandates, but the Science-Metrix study would have missed the “almost-OA” access that they provide unless it also measured Button-based copy-provision.

3. Green OA, Gold OA and Non-OA. It is incorrect that “Green OA” means only repository-based OA. Of course OA (free online access) provided on authors’ websites is Green OA too. The best way to define Green OA is OA provided by other than the publisher: Gold OA is provided by the publisher (though often paid for by the author or the author’s institution or funder). Green OA is provided by the author, wherever the author provides the free online access. (And, although it is not the kind of OA advocated or mandated by institutions and funders, 3rd-party “bootleg” OA, apart from being hard to ascertain, is also Green OA: it certainly doesn’t merit a color of its own — and probably a lot of the back access is 3rd-party-provided rather than author-provided.) So the Science-Metrix data would be more informative and easier to interpret if it were all clearly classified as either Green OA, Gold OA, or non-OA. That would give a clearer idea of the relative size and growth rate of the two roads to OA.

4. The OA Impact Advantage. I am sure that Gold OA would show the same OA impact advantage as Green OA if it were equally possible to measure it. The trouble is determining the non-OA baseline for comparison. Green OA impact studies can do this easily, by comparing OA and non-OA articles published in the same journal issue and year; Gold OA impact studies have the problem of equating OA and non-OA journals for content and quality. And although there are junk journals among both non-OA and Gold OA journals, it is undeniable that their proportions are higher among Gold OA journals (see Beall’s list) whereas the proportion of Gold OA journals themselves is still low. So their impact estimates would be dragged down by the junk-Gold journals.

5. From Fools Gold to Fair Gold. The Science-Metrix study is right that toll-access publishing will prove unsustainable in the long run. But it is mandatory Green OA self-archiving that will drive the transition to Fair-Gold OA sooner rather than later.

Harnad, S (2014) The only way to make inflated journal subscriptions unsustainable: Mandate Green Open Access. LSE Impact of Social Sciences Blog 4/28

Vincent-Lamarre, P., Boivin, J., Gargouri, Y., Lariviere, V., & Harnad, S. (2014). Estimating Open Access Mandate Effectiveness: I. The MELIBEA Score. arXiv preprint arXiv:1410.2926.

P.S. I learned from Richard van Noorden’s posting on this that the Open Access Button — which names and shames publishers for embargoing OA whenever a user encounters a non-OA paper — can now also email an automatic request to the author for a copy (if it can find the author’s email address). This new capability complements the already existing copy-request Button implemented in many institutional repositories, which is reliably linked to the author’s email address. The purpose of the repositories’ copy-request Button is to complement and reinforce institutional and funder OA mandates that require authors to deposit their final, refereed drafts immediately upon acceptance for publication rather than only after a publisher OA embargo has elapsed.

Estimating Open Access Mandate Effectiveness: I. The MELIBEA Score

Estimating Open Access Mandate Effectiveness: I. The MELIBEA Score

Philippe Vincent-Lamarre, Jade Boivin, Yassine Gargouri, Vincent Lariviere, Stevan Harnad

ABSTRACT: MELIBEA is a Spanish database that uses a composite formula with eight weighted conditions to estimate the effectiveness of Open Access mandates (registered in ROARMAP). We analyzed 68 mandated institutions for publication years 2011-2013 to determine how well the MELIBEA score and its individual conditions predict what percentage of published articles indexed by Web of Knowledge is deposited in each institution’s OA repository, and when. We found a small but significant positive correlation (0.18) between MELIBEA score and deposit percentage. We also found that for three of the eight MELIBEA conditions (deposit timing, internal use, and opt-outs), one value of each was strongly associated with deposit percentage or deposit latency (immediate deposit requireddeposit required for performance evaluation, unconditional opt-out allowed for the OA requirement but no opt-out for deposit requirement). When we updated the initial values and weights of the MELIBEA formula for mandate effectiveness to reflect the empirical association we had found, the score’s predictive power doubled (.36). There are not yet enough OA mandates to test further mandate conditions that might contribute to mandate effectiveness, but these findings already suggest that it would be useful for future mandates to adopt these three conditions so as to maximize their effectiveness, and thereby the growth of OA.

Practical Advice for Perplexed Elsevier Authors

For those Elsevier authors who wish to provide OA rather than continuing to agonize over what Elsevier might intend or mean:

Believe Elsevier when they state officially that “Elsevier believes that individual authors should be able to distribute their AAMs for their personal voluntary needs and interests, e.g. posting to their websites or their institution’s repository, e-mailing to colleagues.”

Go ahead and deposit your final draft immediately upon acceptance for publication, set access to the deposit as OA, and ignore all the accompanying Elsevier hedging completely. It means absolutely nothing.

And for those who nevertheless remain tormented by irrational doubts:

Don’t stress: Deposit immediately just the same, but set access to the deposit as restricted access (only you can access it) instead of OA, and rely on the repository’s copy-request Button to forward individual eprint requests to you from individual requestors: you can decide for each request, on a case by case basis, whether or not you wish to fulfill that request, with one click.

This will tide over potential user needs till either the Elsevier embargo elapses or your irrational doubts subside — whichever comes first.

(The battle-ground for OA has now become the 1-year embargo, which publishers try to impose in order to protect their current revenue streams come what may. Publishers — though so far not Elsevier — have tried to redefine Green OA as access after a 1-year embargo, leaving authors who want to provide immediate access with only one option: pay extra for Gold OA. The immediate-deposit mandate plus the eprint-request Button — not petitions, boycott threats or hand-wringing — are the way the research community can protect the interests of research from the self-interest of publishers.)

Canada’s NSERC/SSHRC/CIHR Draft Tri-Agency Open Access Policy

Canada’s NSERC/SSHRC/CIHR Draft Tri-Agency Open Access Policy

Executive Summary: The Draft Canadian Draft Tri-Agency Open Access Policy is excellent in preserving fundees’ free choice of journal, and afree choice about whether or not to use the research funds to pay to publish in an OA journal. However, deposit in the fundee’s institutional repository immediately upon acceptance for publication needs to be required, whether or not the fundee chooses to publish in an OA journal and whether or not access to the deposit is embargoed for 12 months. This makes it possible for the fundee’s institution to monitor and ensure timely compliance with the funder OA policy and it also facilitates providing individual eprints by the fundee to individual eprint requestors for research purposes during any embargo. Institutional repository deposits can then be automatically exported to any institutional-external repositories the fundee, funding agency or institution wishes. On no account should compliance with funding agency conditions be left to the publisher rather than the fundee and the fundee’s institution.

“Grant recipients are required to ensure that any peer-reviewed journal publications arising from Agency-supported research are freely accessible within 12 months of publication, either through the publisher’s website (Option #1) or an online repository (Option #2).”

Monitoring and Ensuring Compliance. A funding agency Open Access (AO) Policy is binding on the fundee, not on other parties. Hence it is a mistake to offer fundees the option either to comply or to leave it to another party (the publisher) to comply.

Funder Requirements Bind Fundees, Not Publishers. The fulfillment of funding agency conditions for receiving a grant is the responsibility of the fundee, and the funding agency needs a systematic and reliable means of monitoring and ensuring that the fundee has indeed complied, and complied in time.

Institutional Monitoring of Compliance. To ensure compliance (and timely compliance) with an AO requirement it is imperative that the responsibility rest fully with the fundee. The funding agency’s natural ally in ensuring compliance is the institution of the fundee, which is already very much involved and and shares a strong interest with both the fundee and the funding agency in ensuring the fulfillment of all funding agency conditions.

Immediate Institutional Repository Deposit. Hence whether or not the fundee publishes with a publisher that makes the article OA immediately, or after an embargo, the fundee should be required to deposit the final, peer-reviewed draft in the fundee’s institutional repository immediately upon publication. (Indeed, the most natural, effective and verifiable date is the date of acceptance, since the date of publication varies greatly, is often not predictable or known to the fundee, and often diverges from the published calendar date of the journal – if it has a calendar date at all.)
The institution of the fundee can then use the date-stamp of the deposit in the institutional repository and the date of acceptance of the article as the means of monitoring and ensuring timely compliance.

Access Delay and Research Impact Loss. The purpose of OA is to make publicly funded research accessible to all potential users and not just to those whose institutions can afford subscription access to the journal in which it was published. This maximizes research uptake, impact and progress. Hence this is why OA is so important and why access-denial is so damaging to the potential usage and applications of research. Studies have also shown that delayed access never attains the full usage and citations of immediate OA. Hence a mechanism for ensuring timely compliance is essential for the success of an OA Policy, and immediate institutional deposit, regardless of locus of publication, is the optimal mechanism for ensuring timely compliance.

Gentil-Beccot, A., Mele, S., & Brooks, T. C. (2010). Citing and reading behaviours in high-energy physics. Scientometrics 84(2), 345-355.

Conflict of Interest. It should also be noted that publisher interests are in conflict with the research community’s interests regarding OA. Except when they are receiving extra money for it, publisher interest is to embargo and delay OA as long as possible. This means that, far from being a reliable ally in ensuring that fundees comply with a funding agency OA requirement, publishers are likely to delay making articles OA as long as they possibly can.

“Option #1: Grant recipients submit their manuscript to a journal that offers immediate open access to published articles, or offers open access to published articles within 12 months.”

Fundee Freedom to Choose Journal. It is very good to leave the fundee’s choice of journal completely free to the fundee. But it is also imperative that no matter what journal the fundee chooses to publish in, the peer-reviewed final draft should always be deposited in the fundee’s institutional repository – and deposited immediately, not after a 12-month delay.

Fulfilling Eprint Requests During Embargoes. Institutional repositories have a Button with which users can request and authors can provide a single electronic reprint for research purposes with one click each. This Button facilitates uptake, access and usage immediately upon deposit, rather than having to wait till the end of a publisher embargo. Hence this “Almost-OA,” made possible by the Button, is another strong reason why all papers should be required to be deposited in the institutional repository immediately upon acceptance for publication.

Sale, A., Couture, M., Rodrigues, E., Carr, L. and Harnad, S. (2012) Open Access Mandates and the “Fair Dealing” Button. In: Dynamic Fair Dealing: Creating Canadian Culture Online (Rosemary J. Coombe & Darren Wershler, Eds.)

“The Agencies consider the cost of publishing in open access journals to be an eligible expense under the Use of Grant Funds.”

Fundee Freedom to Choose Whether to Pay for OA. It is very good to leave it entirely up to fundees to choose whether or not to use their grant funds to pay publishers extra to make their work OA. As long as fundees retain their free choice of which journal to publish in, and all are all required to deposit in their institutional repository immediately upon acceptance for publication (whether or not the deposit is embargoed, and whether or not they publish in an OA journal) there is no harm in allowing grant funds to be used to pay publishers for making their article OA, if fundees wish. (Given the options, and the scarcity of research funds, it is unlikely that many fundees will choose to pay, rather than just deposit.)

Option #2: Grant recipients archive the final peer-reviewed full-text manuscript in a digital archive where it will be freely accessible within 12 months (e.g., institutional repository or discipline-based repository). It is the responsibility of the grant recipient to determine which publishers allow authors to retain copyright and/or allow authors to archive journal publications in accordance with funding agency policies.”

Institutional Deposit and Institution-External Export.
It is fine to leave it up to authors to sort out whether their final peer-reviewed manuscript is made immediately OA or access to the deposit is embargoed for 12 months – as long as the deposit is made immediately, and hence deposit is systematically verifiable and the institutional repository’s eprint-request Button is immediately available to allow users to request individual copies for research purposes. For this reason it is again important to require immediate institutional deposit in all cases. The deposit can be automatically exported by the reposository software, at designated dates, to designated institution-external repositories, as the fundee or funder or institution may wish.

Facilitating Verification of Compliance. But it is almost as great a mistake to allow institution-external deposit instead of institutional deposit (making it needlessly diffuse and complicated to systematically monitor and ensure compliance for both the institution and the funder) as it is to allow publisher fulfillment of funding agency requirements instead of fulfillment by the fundee (and the fundee’s institution).

The only change that needs to be made to optimize the NSERC/SSHRC/CIHR Draft Tri-Agency Open Access Policy is to require immediate deposit in the fundee’s institutional repository, regardless of whether the fundee’s chooses option #1 or option #2.

Gargouri, Y & Harnad, S (2013) Ten-year Analysis of University of Minho Green OA Self-Archiving Mandate. In, Rodrigues, Eloy, Swan, Alma and Baptista, Ana Alice (eds.) Ten-year Anniversary of University of Minho RepositóriUM.

Gargouri, Y, Lariviere, V, Gingras, Y, Carr, L and Harnad, S (2012a) Green and Gold Open Access Percentages and Growth, by Discipline. In: 17th International Conference on Science and Technology Indicators (STI), 5-8 September, 2012, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, Montréal.

Gargouri, Y, Lariviere, V, Gingras, Y, Brody, T, Carr, L and Harnad, S (2012b) Testing the Finch Hypothesis on Green OA Mandate Ineffectiveness. In Open Access Week 2012

Gargouri, Y., Hajjem, C., Lariviere, V., Gingras, Y., Brody, T., Carr, L. and Harnad, S. (2010) Self-Selected or Mandated, Open Access Increases Citation Impact for Higher Quality Research. PLOS ONE 5 (10) e13636

Gentil-Beccot, A., Mele, S., & Brooks, T. C. (2010). Citing and reading behaviours in high-energy physics. Scientometrics 84(2), 345-355.

Hajjem, C., Harnad, S. and Gingras, Y. (2005) Ten-Year Cross-Disciplinary Comparison of the Growth of Open Access and How it Increases Research Citation Impact. IEEE Data Engineering Bulletin 28(4) 39-47.

Harnad, S. (1995) A Subversive Proposal. In: Ann Okerson & James O’Donnell (Eds.) Scholarly Journals at the Crossroads; A Subversive Proposal for Electronic Publishing. Washington, DC., Association of Research Libraries, June 1995.

Harnad, S. & Brody, T. (2004) Comparing the Impact of Open Access (OA) vs. Non-OA Articles in the Same Journals, D-Lib Magazine 10 (6)

Hitchcock, S. (2013) The effect of open access and downloads (‘hits’) on citation impact: a bibliography of studies

Rentier, B., & Thirion, P. (2011). The Liège ORBi model: Mandatory policy without rights retention but linked to assessment processes.

Durham University Adopts UK’s 43d Green OA Mandate (World’s 153rd)

Durham University has just adopted UK’s 43rd Green OA Mandate

(So far the UK has 24 university mandates, 15 funder mandates & 4 fac/dept mandates.)

The worldwide total of Green OA Mandates is now 254.

If your institution or funder has adopted or proposed an OA mandate, please register it in ROARMAP to encourage others to do likewise.

Testing the Finch Hypothesis on Green OA Mandate Effectiveness

We have now tested the Finch Committee‘s Hypothesis that Green Open Access Mandates are ineffective in generating deposits in institutional repositories. With data from ROARMAP on institutional Green OA mandates and data from ROAR on institutional repositories, we show that deposit number and rate is significantly correlated with mandate strength (classified as 1-12): The stronger the mandate, the more the deposits. The strongest mandates generate deposit rates of 70%+ within 2 years of adoption, compared to the un-mandated deposit rate of 20%. The effect is already detectable at the national level, where the UK, which has the largest proportion of Green OA mandates, has a national OA rate of 35%, compared to the global baseline of 25%. The conclusion is that, contrary to the Finch Hypothesis, Green Open Access Mandates do have a major effect, and the stronger the mandate, the stronger the effect (the Liege ID/OA mandate, linked to research performance evaluation, being the strongest mandate model). RCUK (as well as all universities, research institutions and research funders worldwide) would be well advised to adopt the strongest Green OA mandates and to integrate institutional and funder mandates.

Gargouri, Yassine, Lariviere, Vincent, Gingras, Yves, Brody, Tim, Carr, Les and Harnad, Stevan (2012) Testing the Finch Hypothesis on Green OA Mandate Effectiveness Open Access Week 2012

Please Register OA Mandates in ROARMAP

OA Week has already generated several important OA mandates and mandate recommendations (from Hungary, Japan, Brazil, Science Europe, Ireland).

If your institution, funder or nation has adopted or proposed an Open Access Mandate, please register it in ROARMAP (Registry of Open Access Mandatory Archiving Policies):

This will inform the world about OA progress and motivate others to adopt and announce their OA policies.

ROARMAP: Science Europe Green Open Access Mandate Recommendation

“Funders should adopt a clear statement in favour of open access, provide a mechanism for funding gold open access and employ clear and binding mandates for green open access. They should encourage and work towards enabling gold open access publication and at the same time mandate green open access with an embargo period of no more than 6 months. Gold open access APCs should be based on an affordable, sustainable model and be monitored and recorded” [emphasis added]



ROARMAP: Japan Ministry of Culture and Science Recommends OA Policy

The establishment of open access [is] promoted in the Fourth Science and Technology Basic Plan. Funding agencies should require researchers to report to them the method of access to the results of the funded research, including its open access availability, to control the relationship between funding and its consequences. The research results report form of Grants for Scientific Research have fields in which researchers fill in the web addresses and DOIs of their research articles…. There are two main ways of making research results open access. One is to publish papers in open access journals; the other is for researchers themselves to make their papers accessible online.