Re: Is Embarged Access Open Access?

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Fri, 2 Apr 2004 01:25:25 +0100

On Thu, 1 Apr 2004, George S. Porter wrote:

> I, for one, am a mite frustrated by the strait jacketed insistence
> that there are only two approaches to opening access to the research
> literature.

There are many approaches to "opening" access to the research
literature. One is to publish it at all (rather than just leave it
in a desk-drawer). Another is to sell access to those who can afford
the tolls. Another is to lower the tolls to make them affordable to more
users. Another is to make it freely accessible for a while, as a hook,
then withdraw it. Another is to make it freely accessible eventually,
after an embargo period, once sales have subsided.

None of these is open access (though any "opening" of access is certainly
welcome too!).

> The DC Principles <> are
> very closely aligned with the original petition of the Public Library
> of Science.

Open Access (OA) to some articles is closer to Open Access than Open
Access to no articles, but it is not Open Access. -- Or perhaps the right
way to describe it is as OA *for those articles* and those articles
only. But the BOAI is seeking OA for *all* articles. And not after an
embargo interval, but immediately: If a piece of research is ready to be
published at all, it is ready to be made accessible to all of its
would-be users, regardless of whether their institutions can afford to
pay the access-tolls.

> The BOAI-limited discussion of Open Access therefore seems
> to ignore, if not deny, the significant progress being made on almost a
> daily basis in the biomedical literature through the retrodigitization
> program of PubMed Central <>
> and the Free Online Full-text Articles program of HighWire Press
> <>.20

BOAI neither ignores nor denies the progress being made in either
retrodigitization or delayed access. I invite George Porter to read the
BOAI as well as Peter Suber's
extensive and eloquent ongoing coverage of such topics (and
many others) in Open Access News

> I haven't done a detailed analysis of the DC Principles signatories
> <>, but have come to understand
> that much of the access granted back to the commons is being done through
> HighWire Press and the mechanisms which they have developed to make
> (somewhat) delayed access to the scholarly record available through
> toll/subscription-based journals.

Delayed toll-free access is preferable to toll-based access, but it is
not open access.

> My question, then, is does there already exist an adequate descriptor
> for these other varieties of Open Access materials?

Yes: "Delayed Access" (DA) (or "Embargoed Access") (EA).

> If so, why is the focus of debate so narrowly constrained?

There are debates on all sorts of topics, all over the place. But the OA
debates are about OA, and the means of attaining it, as quickly and as
fully as possible. They are not about delayed access. We already have
plenty of delays!

> Or, does the Open Access
> movement need to development new terminology/coloration to acknowledge
> and embrace this concept and the hundreds of journals, hundreds of books,
> and thousands (perhaps millions) of articles and chapters which are
> already openly available?

No need to develop new terminology or color-codes for delayed access,
because delayed access is not a road to open access, any more than
more affordable access is. Partial (immediate) access *is* a variety
of open access, indeed the green road of self-archiving *is* a case of
partial OA, because it renders OA that fraction of the literature that
its authors elect to self-archive (upon publication, or even earlier).

*Delayed* self-archiving, on the other hand, is in the same category
as embargoes: better than nothing, but too little, too late.

On delayed and embargoed access, see:

    "Shulenburger on open access: so NEAR and yet so far"

    "Needless Pruning of Research's Growth-Tip"

    Harnad, S. (2001) AAAS's Response: Too Little, Too Late.
    Science dEbates [online] 2 April 2001.

Stevan Harnad

NOTE: A complete archive of the ongoing discussion of providing open
access to the peer-reviewed research literature online (1998-2004)
is available at the American Scientist Open Access Forum:
        To join the Forum:
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        Hypermail Archive:

Unified Dual Open-Access-Provision Policy:
    BOAI-2 ("gold"): Publish your article in a suitable open-access
            journal whenever one exists.
    BOAI-1 ("green"): Otherwise, publish your article in a suitable
            toll-access journal and also self-archive it.
Received on Fri Apr 02 2004 - 01:25:25 BST

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