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Re: May issue of the SPARC Open Access Newsletter

My understanding of why many publishers oppose FRPAA and the NIH 
policy is that it mandates the uncompensated appropriation of the 
peer review conducted by publishers. Given the retention of 
rights involved in the agreements that researchers will be 
required to sign, this does not have to raise any copyright 
issues per se.  But it does mean that the federal government is 
requiring publishers to pay the cost of peer review if they want 
to continue publishing any articles funded by agency dollars.

Because this involves just Green OA, it remains to be seen 
whether libraries, especially given the pressures on their 
budgets today, will have sufficient incentive to continue 
subscribing to high-priced STM journals they know they can access 
for free after 6 months just for the benefit of the final 
processing that publishers provide.

>From what I have learned over the past several years about how 
little importance people, including even authors, seem to place 
on copyediting, I'm not sanguine that this deal is going to work 
out well for publishers.

In that event, it seems to me that publishers have three choices:

1)start charging fees to cover the cost of peer review and final 
processing (in effect, becoming Gold OA publishers), 2) 
accepting for publication only articles not funded by 
government, or 3) investing their capital in some more promising 
business.  Since FRPPA includes no provision for paying any such 
fees, that burden will fall back upon authors and their 
universities. Under scenarios 2 and 3, government-funded 
research will then need to be peer reviewed in some other way 
than by publishers. Who will provide that service?  FRPPA 
requires peer review. If government starts to provide peer 
review, then we are into uncertain territory, with potential 
politicization of the process and variability in funding levels 
from year to year. Professional societies are the logical 
players here, but they are already suffering from financial 
problems and are loath to raise membership fees much higher to 
pay for added services.

FRPAA does not at the moment include the NEH, which funds most 
research in the humanities--when government funding is available 
at all. But as we all know, it funds only a minuscule portion of 
humanities research.  If FRPAA is extended to the NEH eventually, 
or if the Executive Branch decides to mandate open access for the 
NEH via executive order, as Peter suggests it might do, I would 
guess that most publishers of humanities journals will either 
begin not to accept NEH-funded articles for review or else 
require special fees for such articles to cover costs of 
peer-reviewing them, in effect instituting hybrid Gold OA.

What does seem perfectly clear is that scholars are going to 
continue needing their articles peer reviewed because only in 
that way can they advance in their careers. If FRPPA does not pay 
for peer review, and publishers decide not to consider articles 
funded by government research, then some mechanism will still 
need to be put in place to have peer review carried out. Has 
anyone given much thought to how that will be accomplished if 
scenarios 2 and 3 comes to pass?

Sandy Thatcher

P.S. Peter says that 60% of publishers now allow "postprints" to 
be posted OA. Is that true? I thought "postprint" meant 
peer-reviewed but not finally processed, but in this newsletter 
he seems to be talking as though "postprints" meant the final 
versions as published. I believe the 60% figure is accurate for 
Green OA. I doubt it is accurate for final versions.

>For the first six months after publication, publishers will have 
>exclusive distribution rights to both the published edition and 
>(at their choice) the final version of the author's 
>peer-reviewed manuscript.  After six months, publishers will 
>still have exclusive distribution rights to the published 
>edition, and the only time limit on that exclusivity is the 
>duration of copyright itself (the life of the author plus 70 
>years).  Of course, publishers may voluntarily waive some of 
>these exclusive rights by permitting authors to self-archive 
>their postprints, and today more than 60% of surveyed publishers 
>do just that.

At 12:43 PM -0400 5/2/10, Peter Suber wrote:
>May 2010 issue