Is there any need for a universal Open Access label?

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Mon, 1 Dec 2003 19:56:39 +0000

> From: "The need for a universal Open Access label"
> [I]n line with a recent prediction from technology journalist Richard
> Poynder that "the term 'Open Access' is about to go through a very
> difficult period in which it will be used to mean all things to all men"
> [s]ome fear that this will make the work of Open Access advocates far
> more difficult and could confuse researchers who may turn away from Open
> Access thinking it is something else.

Yes, misunderstanding and misuse of the term "open
access" is becoming one of the many obstacles -- at least 31: -- that are still slowing
our progress toward the optimal and inevitable.

Perhaps it would have been better if instead of calling it "open
access" we had just spelled it all out longhand:
The acronym -- FIPATRAFTO -- would have been a lot harder to hijack
or misconstrue!

> There is now an agreed definition of Open Access - namely the Bethesda
> Principles - that was designed to guide the use of the term. 'Open
> Access' refers to primary research literature that is immediately and
> permanently freely available online to readers, is centrally archived,

No need for the archiving to be "central," though it helps if it is
OAI-compliant, hence interoperable. But "permanently available online"
and "archived" are already redundant.

    "Re: Bethesda statement on open access publishing"

    "Central vs. Distributed Archives"

    "Central versus institutional self-archiving"

> and can be copied, used, distributed, transmitted and displayed without
> restrictions.

This too is redundant with the full-text's being permanently available
free online. The free/open distinction is empty, as noted in this critique
of the Open Access Now editorial on this topic:

    "Free Access vs. Open Access"

> BioMed Central has recently developed the blue 'Open Access' label...
> as a certificate of true 'Open Access'. This label appears at
> the top of all BioMed Central articles that fulfill the definition laid
> out in the Bethesda Principles. The widespread use of such a label would
> provide a clear indication to readers about the status of the article
> they are reading and help to prevent confusion. Adoption of this type of
> 'Open Access' stamp would be a service to the wider research community.

It would be a much more useful and universal solution to incorporate
the criteria for being "FIPATRAFTO" into the OAI archives: An article
is FIPATRAFTO if the OAI archive in which it is archived contains
its full-text (not just its metadata), it is tagged as "refereed"
(including journal-name), and its deposit date is not later than its
publication date.

Stevan Harnad
Received on Mon Dec 01 2003 - 19:56:39 GMT

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