[GOAL] Re: Quo vadere?

Stevan Harnad amsciforum at gmail.com
Mon Jan 4 15:23:30 GMT 2016

On Sun, Jan 3, 2016 at 6:15 PM, Christian Gutknecht <
christian.gutknecht at bluewin.ch> wrote:

> Stevan,
> I guess the record in RoarMap about the policy of the University of Zurich
> is not correct at that point. The deposition of at least the metadata of a
> publication in the IR is required to get included in the annual report,
> which is the foundation of research evaluation.

That is of no use whatsoever for OA. It is mere record-keeping. What must
be deposited immediately is the full text, because (1) that is what creates
the systematic universal practice of immediate self-archiving and (2) that
is what allows the repository's request-a-copy Button to provide
immediate-Almost-OA (the author willing).

It’s however correct that the distinction of of the accessibility on ZORA
> (Fulltext freely available or not) is not part of the research evaluation.
> But I do not know any university that only counts publications that are
> freely available at the repository.

Again, the requirement is that the full-text be immediately deposited, not
that it be immediately OA. And there is a growing number of institutions
and funders that are adopting this optimal policy
called the "Liège model
See for example the U Liège policy <http://roarmap.eprints.org/94/> as well
as the HEFCE/REF policy in ROARMAP.

> Also counting records where the full text is restricted but only available
> with a request-a-copy button as Almost-OA on the same level as OA is not
> valid for me. With „Request a copy“ there’s always a certain chance that
> you never will get the full text. Especially for older records you cannot
> expect the author to answer your request, because he/she may already have
> left the university.

As noted, there are two objectives of the immediate-deposit mandate: (1) To
get all authors into the systematic habit of depositing their full test
immediately upon acceptance for publication and (2) to provide Almost-OA
via the Button for embargoed deposits during the embargo.

And, with all due respect, the purpose of the mandate is not to be valid
"for you" or for me or for anyone, but to reach 100% immediate-OA as
quickly as possible, for all institutional refereed research output.

The Button is a compromise to make the most of deposits that (foolishly)
elect to comply with publisher OA embargoes. It is then up to authors to
decide whether and when to provide requested copies (with one click). Those
scholarly practices will of course evolve, and they will evolve in the
direction of providing OA. For now, the fundamental hurdle to overcome
(universally) is *immediate deposit*. That done, all the rest (the collapse
of subscriptions and embargoes, downsizing and conversion to fair-gold fees
for peer review alone, CC-BY) will all take care of itself
easily and naturally, of its own accord (including the release of older

> Regarding the suggested approach of Jan to charge authors publishing in
> subscription journals, I think this would be a bad option. Any requirement
> that tells authors where to publish (even indirectly by imposing charges)
> will be rejected as a not tolerable influence of the academic freedom. I
> mean some academics already protesting with this argument, if the
> university requires them to make their full text available on the IR.

Constraints on journal choice, i.e., on where authors may publish (and
especially constraints based on the publisher's economic model rather than
its quality) are most definitely violations of academic freedom.

But the requirement to deposit the digital full text immediately upon
acceptance (not necessarily as OA), regardless of where it is published, is
most definitely not a violation of academic freedom, any more than the
requirement to publish-or-perish is.

The (very common) conflation of these two things is just one of many
examples of the astonishingly muddy and careless thinking of the academic
community on the subject of OA (and no doubt on many other subjects!)

> But I really like the idea to let researchers feel that subscription is an
> outdated model. And an easy way to do that without upsetting them too much,
> is to cancel subscriptions and get rid of the Big Deals. With the free
> money the library then can create two kind of funds: One is the Gold OA
> fund (incl. hybrid options but with a cap) and one is the fund for costs
> resulting getting access to documents that are not longer available via
> subscription (like costs for pay-per-view, document delivery, individual
> subscription of a really important journal).. Because librarians constantly
> overestimate the importance of their subscriptions and especially the Big
> Deals where they buy/rent a lot of stuff that is never used by their
> community. I think most libraries would find out that researchers would get
> along quite well with this option

Christian, I strongly suggest that you look into the actual costs of such a
proposal (replacing subscriptions by pay-to-view costs, per paper).

We are in the online era, when scholars are accustomed to reaching content
immediately with one click, and browsing it to see whether it's even worth
reading. A scholar may look at dozens of papers a day this way. That's what
they do with their institutional licensed content. You are imagining
(without any data at all) that the cost of doing this via pay-per-view, at
the usual $30 or so per paper, would amount to less cost for an institution
than its current licensing costs.

Please repeat this proposal once you have done the arithmetic and have the
evidence. (It won't be enough to find out the license costs and the
pay-per-view costs. You will also have to monitor the daily usage, per
discipline, of a sufficient representative sample of researchers.
Until then, subscription cancellation is not an option for institutions
today. (But with universal immediate-deposit
it will be.)

As Thomas mentioned it’s really easy these days to get to the papers by
> simply asking the author. Also Researchgate and academia.edu close the
> gap where IRs fail to provide access.

The ease and immediacy of online access to which institutional authors are
now accustomed is for *licensed (+ OA) content*. Find the actual  user data
for *unlicensed, non-OA* content. And prepare to discover that
copy-requests -- for which you have expressed pessimism when they are
Button-based -- may turn out to be much less immediate or reliable if they
must be mediated by email address search and waiting to see whether the
author responds then when they are requested. With immediate deposit and
the Button, the request is just one click for the user and one for the

The advantage in this approach is that libraries clearly set the incentive
> to Gold OA without the need of additional budget. It doesn’t say, don’t
> publish in subscription journals, it’s just says that subscription is
> something that isn't supported by default anymore. And changing the default
> really can make the difference, as there will immediate (Hybrid) Gold OA.

It seems to me that you, too, are in favour of constraining authors'
journal choice, based on economics rather than quality, though you
(rightly) consider it a violation of academic freedom if done one way, yet
(incoherently) not if done the other way...

To be honest, I rather have a flip RIGHT NOW with the existing "grotesquely
> inflated total expenditure“, then going on like this for years where we
> spend the money anyway to the Closed Access publishers and get nothing in
> return. It’s not that I’m not concerned about the costs in the Gold OA
> world. But the current situation is with the subscription business is
> already so bad, it can’t get worse.

The trouble is not only that such a "flip" is inconceivable (given that the
world has P publishers publishing Ji journals each, and I institutions,
subscribing to Jj journals each, making the "flip" an oligopolistic Escher
impossible-figure of multiple providers and multiple user-institutions),
but for reasons that are evident upon just a little reflection, even
on the counterfactual
miracle premise
of a global "flip" it would all immediately be destabilized because of
institutional defections, flopping soon after it flipped.

But yes, for what it's worth, a redistribution of the current institutional
expenditure on subscriptions in exchange for Gold OA at the same price
would certainly be better than the status quo -- if only it weren't an
unsustainable counterfactual fantasy.

In contrast, universally mandated immediate-deposit (plus Green OA and
Almost-OA via the Button) generating subscription collapse and sustainable
fair-gold is not a fantasy but a viable practical agenda.

PS: Okay, it can get worse: Paying for Hybrid Gold and keeping the
> subscriptions like it’s currently done in UK is really not sustainable. But
> that was clear from the beginning. Maybe it becomes better when offsetting
> agreements are set in place.

All just unreflective and unrealistic fantasy, I'm afraid. Apparently it
will be reality (rather than heeding archivangelists) that sets us on a
viable path to the optimal. inevitable outcome of fair gold, sooner or

Your Weary Archivangelist

Am 03.01.2016 um 18:31 schrieb Stevan Harnad <amsciforum at GMAIL.COM
> <amsciforum at gmail.com>>:
> Penalizing an institution's *authors* for publishing their own articles
> in subscription journals will not help that institution's *users* gain
> access to the subscription journal articles of authors *from all other
> institutions*, hence it will not reduce the institution's subscription
> budget, just increase the total institutional spend by the author spend.
> (Hence Jan's is yet another unstable, unscalable solution, the only stable,
> coherent one being for all authors, at all institutions, to be mandated to provide
> Green OA
> <http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/impactofsocialsciences/2014/04/28/inflated-subscriptions-unsustainable-harnad/>
> .)
> To assess the effectiveness of the University of Zürich
> <http://roarmap.eprints.org/329/> Green OA mandate (which has only one of
> the two conditions <http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/370203/> for the most effective
> mandates <http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/375854/>: immediate deposit is
> required, but deposit is not a precondition for research evaluation) what
> needs to be counted is not the annual proportion of OA deposits but the
> annual proportion of immediate-deposits -- because Zora
> <https://www.zora.uzh.ch/> implements the automated Request-a-Copy Button
> <http://www.zora.uzh.ch/117835/> to provide Almost-OA
> <https://www.google.ca/?gfe_rd=cr&ei=MUCJVraTOuiM8Qf8hrn4Cw&gws_rd=ssl#q=button+%22almost-OA%22>
> for embargoed deposits.
> Once (effective) immediate-deposit mandates are universal (or
> almost-universal), it will be universal (or almost-universal) Green OA plus
> Almost-OA that will make journal subscriptions cancellable at last, thereby
> not only forcing the publisher downsizing, cost-cutting and conversion to Fair-Gold
> OA
> <https://www.google.ca/?gfe_rd=cr&ei=MUCJVraTOuiM8Qf8hrn4Cw&gws_rd=ssl#q=harnad+%22fair+gold%22>,
> but also providing institutions and their authors with the windfall
> subscription cancelation savings out of which to pay the small remaining
> fair-gold costs (i.e., just peer review alone) many times over.
> A "flip
> <https://www.google.ca/?gfe_rd=cr&ei=MUCJVraTOuiM8Qf8hrn4Cw&gws_rd=ssl#q=harnad+flip+OA>"
> to today's Fools-Gold, even if it had been possible (which it is not) would
> simply have flipped today's grotesquely inflated total expenditure from
> subscription fees to publication fees (before it all flopped the very next
> day).
> (But I have reconciled myself to merely keep pointing the way to the
> optimal and inevitable outcome without fretting about how long it will take
> the research community to do the only sensible thing.)
> Your Zen Archivangelist
> On Sun, Jan 3, 2016 at 8:27 AM, Velterop <velterop at gmail.com> wrote:
>> I have advocated this for a while now (but am not aware of any university
>> or library that's taken it up):
>> Charge authors of your university who insist on publishing in a
>> subscription journal either
>>    - a nominal amount that is based on an estimate of the average
>>    per-article revenue of subscription journals/publishers (about $5000), or
>>    - the actual subscription amount paid by the university to a
>>    publisher, divided by the number of articles by authors from the
>>    university, published in the journals of that publisher.
>> These charges should be collected from the authors' grants, be put in an
>> open access fund, and then be used by the university/library to support
>> authors willing to publish in APC-supported open access journals.
>> (For those who really don't like the 'gold' strategy and favour the
>> 'green' one above all: you could use the open access fund to defray the
>> cost of your open repositories and of all the effort needed to ensure that
>> every single paper from your university or institution is properly and
>> 'findably' deposited.)
>> There will no-doubt be practical difficulties with this, but perhaps it
>> can be considered as the seed of an approach?
>> Jan Velterop
>> On 03/01/2016 12:39, Christian Gutknecht wrote:
>> Well, I think Thomas is right. As long libraries do not shift money from
>> the subscription side to the Gold OA side, the transformation will be very
>> very slow.
>> Take the University of Zurich for example. I’ve just disclosed for the
>> first time ever what they are paying for Elsevier, Springer and Wiley and
>> put that in relation with the institutional publication behavior in this
>> blog post:
>> <http://wisspub.net/2016/01/03/zahlungen-der-universitaet-zuerich/>
>> http://wisspub.net/2016/01/03/zahlungen-der-universitaet-zuerich/
>> The University of Zurich has a strong mandate since 2008 with probably
>> one of the best staffed OA team (7 persons) in Europe. But regarding
>> publications from 2014, only 23% (242 out of 1062) from all articles
>> published articles within journals from Elsevier, Wiley and Springer
>> Journals are freely accessible via the IR. In 2014 too, the University of
>> Zurich paid 3.4 Mio CHF/USD to Elsevier, Springer and Wiley only for
>> Journal subscriptions.
>> The situation becomes even more absurd, when you learn that in 2014 there
>> were 176 publications authored by the University of Zurich that were
>> published by PLOS (which by the way already is the half of what the
>> University of Zurich publishes with Wiley!). But there is only little
>> institutional funding for APCs explicitly limited to humanities. So all
>> authors who wish publish with PLOS have to throw in additional money by
>> their own research budget, because the library claims to have no additional
>> money for large scale Gold OA funding. Fortunately for the sake of OA,
>> Swiss authors are willing to pay with the own budget that because the
>> financial situation isn’t that bad. But think about the chance and the
>> boost for OA, if the University of Zurich would shift all or at least a
>> part of the money from the journal subscriptions and create a publisher
>> neutral Open Access funds.
>> So I think we can and should promote more Green OA and care about a
>> better compliance. But if we really want to speed up the transition to Gold
>> OA we really should consider to give the subscription money a new purpose
>> and use it in a coordinated way to force the publishers to change their
>> business model. And as I heard this was Berlin 12 about.
>> Best regards
>> Christian Gutknecht
>> Am 31.12.2015 um 19:15 schrieb Stevan Harnad <harnad at ecs.soton.ac.uk>:
>> On Dec 31, 2015, at 10:59 AM, Thomas Krichel <krichel at openlib.org> wrote:
>>  Stevan Harnad writes
>> 1. Actually, no one really knows why it is taking so long to reach the
>> optimal and inevitable outcome -- universal OA --
>>  oh I know. It's because libraries are spending money on subscriptions.
>>  And as long as they do, OA remains evitable.
>> That’s about as useful as saying that "I know why there is poverty:
>> because the rich are rich and the poor are poor."
>> Not only is it not possible to treat “libraries” as if they were a
>> monolith
>> any more than it is possible to treat “authors” as a monolith,
>> but it is completely out of the question for a university library
>> to cancel subscriptions while its users have no other means to
>> access that content.
>> (Please don’t reply that they do cancel what they cannot afford: that is
>> not relevant. Libraries subscribe to as much content that their users
>> need
>> as they can afford to subscribe to.)
>> The only way to make subscriptions cancellable is to first mandate
>> and provide (universal — not just local) Green OA
>> <http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/impactofsocialsciences/2014/04/28/inflated-subscriptions-unsustainable-harnad/>
>> .
>> SH
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