Re: AAU misinterprets House Appropriations Committee Recommendation

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Fri, 6 Aug 2004 00:57:24 +0100 (BST)

> Aug 5th 2004 From The Economist

> If the Senate approves the recommendation, it will become law and the NIH
> will be required to deposit research funded by the agency into an online
> government archive called PubMed Central within six months of publication
> in any journal.

No, it is the NIH grant recipients, the articles' authors, who will
be required to deposit (self-archive) their articles. The NIH funds,
it doesn't publish or deposit...

> Another possibility is to generalise the House of Representatives'
> proposal for American medical research and allow the traditional journals
> a limited period of monopoly--say six months--after which they have to
> make all taxpayer-funded content available free online.

No, neither the US Government nor the NIH can require publishers to do
anything. Again, it is the grant-recipient on whom the conditions can
be imposed, as a requirement for receiving the funding. And what is being
recommended is to mandate that all peer-reviewed journal articles
arising from NIH-funded research must be made Open Access by their
authors by self-archiving within 6 months of publication.

Since 84% of journals have already given their green light to author
self-archiving, this mandate will merely exert some additional pressure
on the remaining 16% gray journals to hurry up and go green or risk
losing their NIH authors:

But the real pressure of the mandate, however, is on the (funded) authors:
They must not only publish their NIH-funded research (as previously:
"Publish or Perish") but they must also self-archive it, to make it OA.

We already have the indications from Swan and Brown's (2004) JISC/OSI
author survey that grant recipients will willingly comply with such a
mandate. They asked authors:

    "how they would feel if their employer or funding body required
    them to deposit copies of their published articles in... [OA
    archives]. The vast majority... said they would do so willingly..."

    Swan, A. & Brown, S.N. (2004) JISC/OSI Journal Authors Survey

    Swan, A. & Brown, S.N. (2004) Authors and open access
    publishing. Learned Publishing 2004:17(3) 219-224.

Going on to sepcify that they should self-archive it centrally in
PubMed Central, however, is unnecessary over-management and
counter-productive. The mandate need merely be that all articles
must be made OA by self-archiving. The UK recommendations were
wiser in this respect. See:

    "Re: Mandating OA around the corner?"

> At the moment, the entire open access literature is tiny--less than 1% of
> what is published according to the Public Library of Science. But if
> governments were to insist that the results of research they fund must be
> published in an open-access way, that would change completely. The days of
> huge profits would then be numbered. Prestige has its uses--and the
> open-access journals will, no doubt, establish a pecking-order among
> themselves fairly quickly. But for prestige at any price, time is probably
> up.

First, the proportion of the existing 24,000 peer-reviewed journals that
is gold (Open Access Journals) is probably closer to 5% than 1% overall
today, but this is still far, far too small to even contemplate mandating
that all funded authors must publish in that 5%!

But second, this article is again misconstruing the US recommendations, which
were to self-archive all journal articles, not to publish them in OA journals!
"Publish in an open-access way" is just a conflation of the two!

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:
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Received on Fri Aug 06 2004 - 00:57:24 BST

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