[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: On OA, Self-Interest and Coercion

It seems I began to understand logic of the proponents of OA.

They believe authors are either lazy or negligent to make their results open to others as soon as possible - and want to coerce them by new laws. They cover themselves with nice words about public welfare.

While to open results to others at once is important, this can certainly distract from more serious work in the field.

Once I spent entire evening trying to place a file at the arXive and did not succeed. The people who support the site explained that no one can place two PDF files at once (separate for a main text and for an appendix) but I stopped doing any other attempt to finish the job.

Ari Belenkiy
Math Department
Bar-Ilan University

----- Original Message -----
From: "Stevan Harnad" <harnad@ecs.soton.ac.uk>
To: <liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu>
Sent: Monday, January 28, 2008 2:35 AM
Subject: On OA, Self-Interest and Coercion

On Thu, 24 Jan 2008, James J. O'Donnell wrote:

...Whether to include [books] in OA "mandates" is Stevan Harnad's
question, and since I regard such mandates with skepticism, that question
doesn't concern me.
But the question of mandates does concern a bigger and bigger
constituency, now that 6 of 7 UK Research Councils, the European Research
Council, the US National Institutes of Health, and a growing number of
universities worldwide have already mandated OA self-archiving, and the
vast sleeping giant of universities worldwide is about to awaken and
follow suit:

22 funder mandates,
    12 institutional mandates,
    3 departmental mandates,


    5 proposed funder mandates,
    3 proposed multi-institutional mandates,
    1 proposed institutional mandate

That's a total of

    37 mandates already adopted and
    9 more proposed so far
    = 46

So this might be an opportune time to re-examine the basis of one's
skepticism about OA mandates...

I am struck by the assertion that "all authors would want OA for their
articles" if certain conditions are met.  That's an interesting
hypothesis, but I would simply underscore that the number of authors who
currently *do* want OA for their articles is low enough that Harnad and
others recommend they be coerced to achieve the goal. That fundamental
disjuncture is important to understand and is advanced by empirical work,
not by thought experiments.
(1) "Coerced" is a rather shrill term! (Is every rule that is in the
public interest -- smoking bans? seatbelt laws? breathalyzer tests?
taxes? -- coercion? Is academia's "publish or perish" mandate "coercion"?)

(2) It is empirically incorrect to assume that the number of authors that
do want OA for their articles is the same as the number who spontaneously
self-archive or publish in an OA journal today:

(3) Considerable empirical work has been done on these questions: The
surveys by Alma Swan and others have repeatedly shown that (a) many
authors still don't know about OA, and (b) many of those who know about it
agree that they would want it for their articles, but they fear (wrongly)
that it might be illegal, prejudicial to their publishing in their journal
of choice, or just plain too complicated and time-consuming to do it.

(4) As a matter of empirical fact, (a) - (c) are all wrong.

(5) More important, the surveys have found that although most authors
still do not self-archive, 95% report that they would self-archive if
their institutions and/or funders mandated it --
and 81% of them report they would do so *willingly*.

(6) In other words, most authors regard Green OA self-archiving mandates
not as coercion, but as facilitation, for doing what they would want to
do, but otherwise daren't (or otherwise could not assign it the proper
priority in their academic publish-or-perish obligations).

(7) By way of still further empirical confirmation, Arthur Sale's many
studies have shown that institutional self-archiving policies are
successful -- and institutional OA repositories successfully approach
capture of 100% of institutional research output -- if and only if they
are mandates.

(8) All of that is empirical; there is one thought-experiment, however,
and that is the various speculations and counter-speculations about
whether or not Green OA self-archiving mandates will destroy peer-reviewed
journal publication (see APPENDIX below).

(9) I fully agree that the only way to settle that question too, is
empirically -- and the mandates will do just that.

(10) All indications are that if and when mandated Green OA should ever
make the journal subscription model unsustainable, the only thing that
will happen is a natural transition to Gold OA publishing, with (a portion
of) the institutional subscription savings simply redirected to paying the
(reduced but nonzero) costs of Gold OA: implementing peer review.