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Re: Open Choice a Trojan Horse??

The Howard Hughes deal is *not* a setback for open access, even if it is not the greatest imaginable step forwards perhaps. To knock the HHMI for getting into this deal is short-sighted. And subject lines like 'Trojan Horse' with their insidious negativity raise the suspicion that the agenda of some list participants is not really 'open access', but a desire to get rid of publishers or of the notion that publishing, including open access publishing, actually costs money. It's a delusion that one can get open access by self-archiving mandates that imply having to rely on librarians to keep paying for subscriptions to keep journals alive. Or is the idea that librarians keep paying for journals of which the articles are available with open access part of the proposed mandates?

Authors can self-publish easily these days and provide open access to their articles to their hearts' content. Once they involve a publisher, though, they don't do that out of altruistic motives. They don't 'give' their articles to publishers. They come to ask for a 'label', a 'mark', an official journal reference that makes their article from a piece of text, perhaps interesting, but not recognised by the academic community, into a formally peer-reviewed and published article. It's not the publishers that compel them to do that.

And publishers cannot provide those services, on the scale they are needed, on a philanthropic basis. This may be possible for a number of small journals, and where it is possible it deserves to be done that way and probably is already. But the worldwide scientific enterprise needs sustainable large-scale industrial-strength publishing to deal with the publication of more than a million new articles a year (and in terms of submissions a multiple of that, given that most papers are rejected at least once).

The HHMI deal is a very positive step towards sustainable open access and should be recognised for that. The 'cure' of OA publishing is to be preferred to the 'palliative' of self-archiving. The derision that funding agencies suffer who put open access first, and not cost reduction, is uncalled-for.

If a full, safe cure for a disease is possible, though not necessarily cheaper than lifelong symptom-management and the real possibility of a much shorter life, is it better to go for cheap palliative care than for this full cure?

Jan Velterop

On 10 Mar 2007, at 02:53, Stevan Harnad wrote:

On Fri, 9 Mar 2007, Leslie Chan wrote:

I see the HHMI-Elsevier deal as a major set back for institutional self-archiving as it muddies the green landscape, which I am sure is one of the underlying intents of Elsevier and other publishers in the STM group. I suspect more publishers may follow suit and reverse their stand on green if they think there is money to be made. Something needs to happen quickly. The Trojan Horse has proved to work, unfortunately. What should we do???
I know *exactly* what needs to be done, and it has been obvious all along: The mandates have to be taken completely out of the hands of publishers and out of the reach of embargoes, and there is a sure-fire way to do it:

The mandates must be Immediate-Deposit/Optional-Access (ID/OA) mandates.

Let the *access* to the deposit be provisionally set as Closed Access wherever there is the slightest doubt. Just so publishers have no say whatsoever in whether or when the deposit itself is done. And let the EMAIL EPRINT REQUEST button -- and human nature, and the optimality of OA -- take care of the rest of its own accord, as it will. If only we have the sense to rally behind ID/OA.

It is as simple as that. But *we* have to unite behind ID/OA, and give a clear consistent message (and for that we have to first clearly understand ID/OA!)

If we keep flirting with embargoes and Gold and publishing reform and funding instead of univocally rallying behind the ID/OA mandate that will immunise us from publisher policies and further embargoes, we will get nowhere, and indeed we will lose ground.

It is as simple as that.

Stevan Harnad