The new Finch/RCUK policy started off on the wrong foot from the very beginning, downgrading cost-free Green OA self-archiving and preferentially funding Gold OA publishing: double-paid Fool's Gold. That was already at the behest of the publishing lobby.
But unfortunately that was aided and abetted by OA advocates in the thrall of Gold Fever and Rights Rapture, needlessly over-reaching for more than just the free online access that is already within reach, and making even that yet again escape our grasp. Yes, the publisher lobby is trying to divide and conquer.
But it will not succeed, because the HEFCE/REF proposal has come to the rescue, dividing deposit and access-setting, requiring that deposit be immediate, in the author's IR, and relegating publishers' embargoes only to access-setting. It is that dividing that will conquer.
"Why did 34,000 researchers sign a threat in 2000 to boycott their journals unless those journals agreed to provide open access to their articles - when the researchers themselves could provide open access (OA) to their own articles by self-archiving them on their own institutional websites?"
Not only has 100% OA been reachable through self-archiving as of at least 1994, but over 90% of journals have even given author self-archiving their explicit green light. Over 60% of them, including Elsevier -- have given their green light to self-archive the refereed final draft ("postprint") immediately upon acceptance for publication...
So why are researchers again boycotting instead of keystroking?
Here are some of the many reasons why it is Gratis Green OA self-archiving (free online access) rather than Libre OA (free online access plus remix and republication rights) that should be mandated (by researchersí institutions and funders):
1. 100% OA is reachable only if we mandate it; 2. only Green OA self-archiving (not Gold OA publishing) can be mandated; 3. all researchers want to provide Gratis OA (free online access); 4. not all researchers want to provide Libre OA (free online access plus remix and republication rights); 5. all disciplines need Gratis OA; 6. not all disciplines need Libre OA (mash-up rights for verbatim text); 7. Gratis OA is much more urgent than Libre OA (for all would-be users whose institutions cannot afford subscription access); 8. 100% Gratis OA is already reachable, 100% Libre OA is not; 9. publisher restrictions are less of an obstacle for Gratis OA; 10. Mandating Green Gratis OA is not only the fastest, surest and cheapest way to reach 100% Gratis OA but it is also the fastest, surest and cheapest way to reach Gold OA and Libre OA thereafter.
Harnad, S. (2007) The Green Road to Open Access: A Leveraged Transition. In: The Culture of Periodicals from the Perspective of the Electronic Age, pp. 99-105, L'Harmattan. ABSTRACT: What the research community needs, urgently, is free online access (Open Access, OA) to its own peer-reviewed research output. Researchers can provide that in two ways: by publishing their articles in OA journals (Gold OA) or by continuing to publish in non-OA journals and self-archiving their final peer-reviewed drafts in their own OA Institutional Repositories (Green OA). OA self-archiving, once it is mandated by research institutions and funders, can reliably generate 100% Green OA. Gold OA requires journals to convert to OA publishing (which is not in the hands of the research community) and it also requires the funds to cover the Gold OA publication costs. With 100% Green OA, the research community's access and impact problems are already solved. If and when 100% Green OA should cause significant cancellation pressure (no one knows whether or when that will happen, because OA Green grows anarchically, article by article, not journal by journal) then the cancellation pressure will cause cost-cutting, downsizing and eventually a leveraged transition to OA (Gold) publishing on the part of journals. As subscription revenues shrink, institutional windfall savings from cancellations grow. If and when journal subscriptions become unsustainable, per-article publishing costs will be low enough, and institutional savings will be high enough to cover them, because publishing will have downsized to just peer-review service provision alone, offloading text-generation onto authors and access-provision and archiving onto the global network of OA Institutional Repositories. Green OA will have leveraged a transition to Gold OA.
1. First, congratulations to Princeton University (my graduate alma mater!) for adopting an open access mandate: a copyright-reservation policy, adopted by unanimous faculty vote.
2. Princeton is following in the footsteps of Harvard in adopting the copyright-reservation policy pioneered by Stuart Shieber and Peter Suber.
4. I hope that Princeton will now also follow in the footsteps of Harvard by adding an immediate-deposit requirement with no waiver option to its copyright-reservation mandate, as Harvard has done.
5. The Princeton copyright-reservation policy, like the Harvard copyright-reservation policy, can be waived if the author wishes: This is to allow authors to retain the freedom to choose where to publish, even if the journal does not agree to the copyright-reservation.
6. Adding an immediate-deposit clause, with no opt-out waiver option, retains all the properties and benefits of the copyright-reservation policy while ensuring that all articles are nevertheless deposited in the institutional repository upon publication, with no exceptions: Access to the deposited article can be embargoed, but deposit itself cannot; access is a copyright matter, deposit is not.
7. Depositing all articles upon publication, without exception, is crucial to reaching 100% open access with certainty, and as soon as possible; hence it is the right example to set for the many other universities worldwide that are now contemplating emulating Harvard and Princeton by adopting open access policies of their own; copyright reservation alone, with opt-out, is not.
8. The reason it is imperative that the deposit clause must be immediate and without a waiver option is that, without that, both when and whether articles are deposited at all is indeterminate: With the added deposit requirement the policy is a mandate; without it, it is just a gentleman/scholar's agreement.
[Footnote: Princeton's open access policy is also unusual in having been adopted before Princeton has created an open access repository for its authors to deposit in: It might be a good idea to create the repository as soon as possible so Princeton authors can get into the habit of practising what they pledge from the outset...]
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