Re: Free Access vs. Open Access

From: Jim Till <till_at_UHNRES.UTORONTO.CA>
Date: Thu, 8 Jan 2004 12:54:45 -0500

In a message sent to this Forum on 3 Jan 2004, I asked:

> Has anyone who has contributed to this thread proposed a
> revised definition of open access? Or, is the debate
> mainly about how best to implement the BOAI definition? See:

I'll try to answer my own question. The debate seems to me
to be mainly about the 2nd component of the definitions of
open access that are included in the Berlin Declaration,
and in the Bethesda Statement,

I'll quote the 2nd component of the definition that's
included in the Bethesda Statement, mainly because the same
definition is also included in the Wellcome Trust position

"2. A complete version of the work and all supplemental
materials, including a copy of the permission as stated
above, in a suitable standard electronic format is deposited
immediately upon initial publication in at least one online
repository that is supported by an academic institution,
scholarly society, government agency, or other
well-established organization that seeks to enable open
access, unrestricted distribution, interoperability, and
long-term archiving (for the biomedical sciences, PubMed
Central is such a repository)."

An example of what is (or is not) a "suitable standard
electronic format" isn't provided in this version of the 2nd
component of the definition. (I assume that "suitable
formats" would include XML, PDF & HTML? Plus some other

The only example of a suitable "online repository" that's
provided is PubMed Central. It seems clear to me that the
kind of stable-institution-based archive that Stevan Harnad
has been advocating so vigorously would also fit this

So, the debate about definitions of open access may be, in
essence, a debate that's primarily about the stability and
interoperability of any particular "online repository", and,
secondarily, about what's a "suitable standard electronic
format"? There seems to me to be little debate about the 1st
component of the definition of open access (which is the
only component of the BOAI definition).

The key issues then remain: how best to persuade authors
either to publish in open-access journals, or to seek (or
retain) the right to self-archive a version in a suitable
institutional or disciplinary online repository (if one is
available to them).

What have I misunderstood, or missed?

In my own case, publication in a suitable open-access
journal is more feasible for me, as an author, because I can
pay any necessary article-processing fees (APFs) from the
(modest!) funds available for the support of my research and
scholarship, and because no suitable institutional online
repository is currently available to me.

There's such a repository ("T-Space", based on D-Space
software) at my university (Toronto):

However, only members of particular "communities" within the
university may self-archive eprints there, and, at present,
I'm not a member of any of these particular "communities".
So, I'm left with the alternatives of publishing in "gold"
open-access journals, and/or advocating for the
establishment of an appropriate online repository that I
could use for self-archiving of eprints that have been
published in "green" journals.

I don't need to wait to use the former route. I do need to
wait in order to use the latter one. So (contrary to the
norm!), I'm a author who wants to self-archive in an online
repository, but currently can't. An exception is one
commentary of mine, entitled "Predecessors of preprint
servers", published originally in Learned Publishing
2001(Jan); 14(1): 7-13 and subsequently self-archived, in
HTML, in the Physics section of the arXiv repository,

I've recently prepared an eprint that's an invited
commentary (about electronic support groups). It's just been
submitted, for peer-review, to a toll-access journal. If
it's accepted, I'd like to self-archive it in some
appropriate non-profit online repository (I have already
obtained permission to do so, and also have retained
copyright). This particular commentary isn't suitable for
submission to the Quantitative Biology section of the arXiv
repository, nor to Cogprints. Constructive advice would be

Jim Till
University of Toronto
Received on Thu Jan 08 2004 - 17:54:45 GMT

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