AAU misinterprets House Appropriations Committee Recommendation

From: Stevan Harnad <harnad_at_ecs.soton.ac.uk>
Date: Tue, 3 Aug 2004 14:19:12 +0100

In the AAU CFR Weekly Wrap-Up

    "The House Appropriations Committee
    Enters Scholarly Publishing Fray"

concerning the House Committee recommendation to mandate the
self-archiving of NIH-funded research articles within 6 months of


the Association of American Universities writes the following:

    "AAU Position on Labor/ HHS/ Ed Report Language

    "AAU has not taken a position on the substance of the proposal
    contained in the report language, but the association believes that
    a congressional prescription for scholarly publishing is unwise
    and unwarranted. However the debate over public access is decided,
    the quality and reliability of scholarly publishing should remain the
    first priority. A congressional mandate requiring a specific business
    model for the scholarly publishing enterprise prejudges what should be
    an internal, transparent deliberation by the academic and scientific
    communities. That process should examine the full range of options
    for controlling costs and increasing access to scholarly publishing
    while preserving its quality and reliability. Publishers are exploring
    different options, and outside groups or the government -- no matter
    how well intended -- should not prematurely pick winners and losers."

The AAU does not appear to have understood the substance of the
House Appropriations Committee proposal. It is not a congressional
prescription for scholarly publishing, nor a congressional mandate
requiring a specific business model. It is merely one (additional)
condition on receiving NIH research funding:

It is already mandated that funded research findings must be published
in a peer-reviewed journal, not just put in a desk-drawer ("publish or
perish"). The House Committee's recommended new funding-agency condition
is simply that user-access to those published journal articles must be
maximised by also self-archiving them in Open Access Archives. (The UK
Parliamentary Science and Technology Committee has just made essentially
the same recommendation.)

This misinterpretation by AAU is yet another symptom of the widespread
conflation of (1) the library serials crisis and journal affordability
problem with (2) the research access/impact problem. They are not the
same problem, and the solution to the one is not a solution to the other.

Open Access (OA) does not equal OA Publishing, and OA provision strategies
need not be publishing reform strategies. In particular, the "green"
road to OA -- the author-institution self-archiving of their own (non-OA
journal) article output in OA Archives -- which is what Congress is
proposing to mandate, is not a publishing reform strategy. It is an
access maximization strategy (just as the mandate to publish itself is).

When will we stop confusing the green road of OA self-archiving with
the "golden road" of OA publishing?


    "The Green and Gold Roads to Open Access"


    "Re: Mandating OA around the corner?"

Stevan Harnad

UNIVERSITIES: If you have adopted or plan to adopt an institutional
policy of providing Open Access to your own research article output,
please describe your policy at:

    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.

A complete Hypermail archive of the ongoing discussion of providing
open access to the peer-reviewed research literature online (1998-2004)
is available at:
        To join the Forum:
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Received on Tue Aug 03 2004 - 14:19:12 BST

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