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[BOAI] The Open Access Interviews: Paul Royster, Coordinator of Scholarly Communications, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

From: "Richard Poynder" <richard.poynder AT>
Date: Mon, 1 Sep 2014 09:40:01 +0100

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             [BOAI] Re: The Open Access Interviews: Paul Royster, Coordinator of Scholarly Communications, University of Nebraska-Lincoln from jean.claude.guedon AT

Paul Royster is proud of what he has achieved with his institutional
repository. Currently, it contains 73,000 full-text items, of which more
than 60,000 are freely accessible to the world. This, says Royster, makes it
the second largest institutional repository in the US, and it receives
around 500,000 downloads per month, with around 30% of those going to
international users.


Unsurprisingly, Royster always assumed that he was in the vanguard of the OA
movement, and that fellow OA advocates attached considerable value to the
work he was doing.


All this changed in 2012, when he attended an open access meeting organised
by SPARC in Kansas City. At that meeting, he says, he was startled to hear
SPARC announce to delegates that henceforth the sine qua non of open access
is that a work has to be made available with a CC BY licence or equivalent


After the meeting Royster sought to clarify the situation with SPARC,
explaining the problems that its insistence on CC BY presented for
repository managers like him, since it is generally not possible to make
self-archived works available on a CC BY basis (not least because the
copyright will invariably have been assigned to a publisher). Unfortunately,
he says, his concerns fell on deaf ears.


The only conclusion Royster could reach is that the OA movement no longer
views what he is doing as open access. As he puts it, "[O]ur work in
promulgating Green OA (which normally does not convey re-use rights) and our
free-access publishing under non-exclusive permission-to-publish (i.e.,
non-CC) agreements was henceforth disqualified."


If correct, what is striking here is the implication that institutional
repositories can no longer claim to be providing open access.


In fact, if one refers to the most frequently cited definitions of open
access one discovers that what SPARC told Royster would seem to be in order.
Although it was written before the Creative Commons licences were released,
for instance, the definition of open access authored by those who launched
the Budapest Open Access Initiative (BOAI) in 2001 clearly seems to describe
the same terms as those expressed in the CC BY licence.


What this means, of course, is that green OA does not meet the requirements
of the BOAI - even though BOAI cited green OA as one of its "complementary
strategies" for achieving open access.


Since most of the OA movement's claimed successes are green successes this
is particularly ironic. But given this, is it not pure pedantry to worry
about what appears to be a logical inconsistency at the heart of the OA
movement? No, not in light of the growing insistence that only CC BY will
do. If nothing else, it is alienating some of the movement's best allies -
people like Paul Royster for instance.  


"I no longer call or think of myself as an advocate for 'open access,' 
the specific definition of that term excludes most of what we do in our
repository," says Royster. "I used to think the term meant 'free to 
download, and store without charge, registration, log-in, etc.,' but I have
been disabused of that notion."


For that reason, he says, "My current attitude regarding OA is to step 
and leave it alone; it does some good, despite what I see as its feet of
clay. I am not 'against' it, but I don't feel inspired to promote a cause
that makes the repositories second-class members."


How could this strange state of affairs have arisen? And why has it only
really become an issue now, over a decade after the BOAI definition was


More here:


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