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[BOAI] Fund Gold OA Only AFTER Mandating Green OA, Not INSTEAD
From: Stevan Harnad <amsciforum AT gmail.com>
Phil Davis, in Scholarly Kitchen, raises the right questions regarding the “Compact for Open-Access Publishing Equity”: (Hyperlinked version of this posting http://openaccess.eprints.org/index.php?/archives/628-guid.html ) "If the creation of a funding line to support a particular form of publishing is designed as a hypothesis, what result are they expecting? What constitutes a successful or failed experiment?... If this is about access, let’s talk about whether this type of publishing results in disseminating scientific results to more readers. If this debate is about economics, let’s talk about whether Cornell and the four other signatory institutions will save money under this model." Underlying the proposed “Compact” is the usual conflation of the access problem with the affordability problem, as well as the conflation of their respective solutions: Green OA self-archiving and Gold OA publishing. Open Access (OA) is about access, not about journal economics. The journal affordability problem is only relevant (to OA) inasmuch as it reduces access; and Gold OA publishing is only relevant (to OA) inasmuch as it increases access -- which for a given university, is not much: Authors must remain free to publish in their journal of choice. Most refereed journals are not Gold OA journals today. Nor could universities afford to pay Gold OA fees for the publication of all or most of their authors' research output today, because universities are already paying for publication via their subscription fees today. Hence the only measure of the success of a university's OA policy (for OA) is the degree to which it provides OA to the university's own research article output. By that measure, a Gold OA funding compact provides OA to the fraction of a university's total research output for which there exist Gold OA journals today that are suitable to the author and affordable to the university today. That fraction will vary with the institution, but it will always be small. In contrast, a Green OA self-archiving mandate provides OA to most or all of a university's research article output within two years of adoption. There are 5 signatories to the Gold OA "Compact" so far. Two of them (Harvard and MIT) have already mandated Green OA, so what they go on to do with their available funds does not matter here, one way or the other. The other three signatories (Cornell, Dartmouth and Berkeley), however, have not yet mandated Green OA. As such, their "success" in providing OA to their own research article output will not only be minimal, but they will be setting an extremely bad example for other universities, who may likewise decide that they are doing their part for OA by signing this compact for Gold OA (in exchange for next to no OA, at a high cost) instead of mandating Green OA (in exchange for OA to most or all their research articles output, at next to no extra cost). What universities, funders, researchers and research itself need, urgently, is Green OA mandates, not Gold OA Compacts. Mandate Green OA first, and then compact to do whatever you like with your spare cash. But on no account commit to spending it pre-emptively on funding Gold OA instead of mandating Green OA -- not if OA is your goal, rather than something else. Stevan Harnad American Scientist Open Access Forum -- To unsubscribe from the BOAI Forum, use the form on this page: http://www.soros.org/openaccess/forum.shtml?f
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