Re: Open Access vs. NIH Back Access and Nature's Back-Sliding

From: Brian Simboli <brs4_at_LEHIGH.EDU>
Date: Fri, 4 Feb 2005 08:36:05 -0500

Thanks for your comments.
In [ ] are replies below.
A general point: even if the subscription overlay is not the best or
most economically viable model, this does not mean that some other
overlay design is not desirable. Also, my critique of the faults of the
green approach, as expressed in various venues, does not ride on the
viability of the subscription overlay model. One thing is pretty clear
so far: librarians as a group are not likely to be enamored with this
approach, which (along with the other considerations thus far expressed)
is one reason why it is unlikely to succeed. The NIH and Nature events
have signalled the final death-knell of the green approach, in any case,
Brian Simboli

Tim Brody wrote:

> Brian Simboli wrote:
>> (Worries that
>> people will merely use OAIster or google to bring up all the articles
>> for a given issue can be circumvented if the journal title is suppressed
>> in the metadata for the freely available article.)
> This wouldn't help citation linking, which is already pretty patchy.
> Anyway, I think you'll find autonomous services already get around
> missing metadata through triangulation!

[Re. citation linking: SFX works for access to both "for pay" (part of
subscriptions) and "not for pay"
articles. Can you elaborate here? I guess I'm not seeing the argument.
If the argument is that citation linking would only work for access to
the material as linked off the subscription table of contents, then that
seems no problem. No different from the way things are done now, right?
Re. triangulation, I take it the argument here is that an autonomous
service could perhaps do this and artificially create a table of
contents that would compete
commercially with the subscription-based table of contents. However,
some possible rejoinders are:
i. suppress not just the journal title, but also most other information
that would enable the triangulation. Perhaps just the author's name
would be left?
ii. again, I've argued that institutions may be willing to pay for
value-added features of the publisher's website, not just access to
table of contents. Even if an autonomous service did what you mention,
there is no guarantee that they could provide these value-added services
in quite the way the publisher would.
iii. even if there were these autonomous services doing triangulation,
would institutions rather pay them than pay for the direct access from
the publisher's table of content? It would get down to pricing, and as
I've argued, the subscription overlay model would force pricing to be
low, by its design. It would not be a commercial enterprise, but rather
a cost recovery one.]

>> Interestingly, aren't the physics societies right now partially
>> committed to something like a de facto subscription overlay model, in
>> that many physics peer-reviewed postprints are being archived on
>> and are therefore freely accessible? Why shouldn't the physics
>> socieities then just directly link to the postprints at,
>> obviating the need for authors to engage in duplicative, afterglow
>> self-archiving efforts? Or is it the case that, if only a portion of
>> articles published by the physics societies have self-archived
>> counterparts on arxiv, the "tipping point" has not been reached yet
>> where it becomes not in their economic interest to allow access to a
>> free copy (via author self-archiving)?
> I believe that some physics societies will accept *submissions* from a
> pre-print server, but it's not the case that the publisher version gets
> pushed back onto an e-print server (unless the author has permission and
> does that himself, which I haven't noticed).

[This is just an argument for the subscription overlay publisher working
closely with
the likes of arxiv, to push the publisher version onto the e-print
server. The model may
require changes in the way things have been done in the past, but these
changes don't seem
overwhelmingly daunting.]

> Searching for "referee" in arXiv finds only ~1000 matches, "referee or
> corrected" only 37,000. So, perhaps:
> 1) Physicists don't need to make corrections (so only the pre-print is
> arXived)
> 2) Only the post-refereed version gets archived
> 3) Physicists don't provide a comment when they do update to reflect
> referee's comments
[Can you elaborate on how this constitutes a critique of the
subscription overlay model?]

> See also Alma Swan's presentation
> All the best,
> Tim.
>> Alma Swan wrote:
>>> In recent days there has been some discussion as to whether NIH's
>>> retreat
>>> may in fact be due to a fear of adverse effects on the scholarly
>>> publishing
>>> industry if immediate self-archiving were to be mandated by NIH for its
>>> grantholders
>>> (
>>> And, certainly, the Nature Publishing Group appears to be changing its
>>> policy on self-archiving. It is not easy to follow NPG's arguments
>>> so far
>>> because they are rather complicated, but it appears to be suggesting
>>> that it
>>> is aiding Open Access by moving from allowing immediate
>>> self-archiving by
>>> authors in their institutional repositories to allowing it only after a
>>> period of six months post-publication of an article. The logic of
>>> this is
>>> not at all clear. It would be very helpful if NPG would clearly
>>> explain the
>>> causal inferences and its policy but one has to infer that NPG has
>>> apprehensions about a possible adverse effect of self-archiving upon
>>> its
>>> business.
>>> Many publishers, particularly some learned societies, share these
>>> apprehensions and that is perfectly understandable if they base their
>>> view
>>> of the future on imaginings rather than on actual evidence.
>>> In the case of self-archiving, there is absolutely no need for this
>>> sort of
>>> self-terrorising. The experiment has been done and the results are
>>> clear-cut. Fourteen years ago the arXiv was set up ( It
>>> houses preprints and postprints in physics, predominantly in the
>>> areas of
>>> high-energy physics, condensed matter physics and astrophysics. It
>>> is the
>>> norm for researchers in these areas to post their articles either
>>> before or
>>> after refereeing to this repository. In 2003, the 421 physics journals
>>> listed in ISI's SCI published a total of 116,723 articles. The arXiv
>>> receives approximately 42,000 articles per annum, meaning that around a
>>> third of all physics research articles appear not only in journals but
>>> ALSO
>>> in the arXiv.
>>> Have physics publishers gone to the wall in the last 14 years? No,
>>> and not
>>> only have they continued to survive, they have also continued to
>>> thrive. I
>>> have recently asked questions about this of two of the big learned
>>> society
>>> publishers in physics, the American Physical Society in the US and the
>>> Institute of Physics Publishing Ltd in the UK. There are two salient
>>> points
>>> to note:
>>> 1. Neither can identify any loss of subscriptions to the journals that
>>> they
>>> publish as a result of the arXiv.
>>> 2. Subscription attrition, where it is occurring, is the same in the
>>> areas
>>> that match the coverage of the arXiv as it is across any other areas of
>>> physics that these societies publish in.
>>> Both societies, moreover, see actual benefits for their publishing
>>> operations arising from the existence of arXiv. The APS has "cooperated
>>> closely with arXiv including establishing a mirror (jointly with
>>> Brookhaven
>>> National Laboratory)... We also revised our copyright statement to be
>>> explicitly in favor of author self-archiving. These efforts
>>> strengthened
>>> (rather than weakened) Physical Review D [an APS journal that covers
>>> high-energy physics] ...I would say it is likely we maintained
>>> subscriptions
>>> to Physical Review D that we may otherwise have lost if we hadn't
>>> been so
>>> pro-arXiv .."
>>> In answer to the question "Does arXiv worry or threaten your
>>> business?" the
>>> APS answered: "We don't consider it a threat. We expect to continue to
>>> have
>>> a symbiotic relationship with arXiv. As long as peer review is valued
>>> by the
>>> community (and it seems to be), we will be doing peer review. While
>>> the APS
>>> aspires to open access and is not threatened by, we do have
>>> strong
>>> reservations about government requirements for open access."
>>> The Institute of Physics Publishing's response was: "IOPP's experience
>>> as a
>>> learned society publisher illustrates the strong synergies and mutual
>>> benefits that currently exist between major peer-reviewed journals,
>>> such as
>>> our Classical and Quantum Gravity, and the arXiv e-print server. Both
>>> systems continue to serve the scientific community very effectively.
>>> Journals act as the "brand", setting standards for scientific quality.
>>> Our
>>> authors and editors tell us that they value publishing in a
>>> peer-reviewed
>>> journal because this continues as an essential requirement for
>>> establishing
>>> reputation and authority of the research they publish. Whilst
>>> posting an
>>> pre-print or post-print is becoming more of an essential in some
>>> areas of
>>> the physics community for immediate and wide dissemination, we do
>>> not see
>>> the arXiv or repositories threatening our business."
>>> Publishers who prefer to base their future strategies on experimental
>>> data
>>> rather than untested apprehensions may be heartened by these findings.
>>> Institutions that prefer explicitly to help their researchers to
>>> disseminate
>>> their research results should provide archives for the purpose. And
>>> researchers who prefer to have their results available to as many
>>> people as
>>> they
>>> are subscription-based publications - should get on with self-archiving
>>> their articles.
>>> Alma Swan
>>> __________________________
>>> Alma P Swan, BSc, PhD, MBA
>>> Director
>>> Key Perspectives Ltd
>>> Topsham
>>> Devon
>>> EX3 0EP
>>> United Kingdom
>> --
>> Brian Simboli
>> Science Librarian
>> Library & Technology Services
>> E.W. Fairchild Martindale
>> 8A East Packer Avenue
>> Bethlehem, PA 18015-3170
>> (610) 758-5003
>> E-mail:

Brian Simboli
Science Librarian
Library & Technology Services
E.W. Fairchild Martindale
8A East Packer Avenue
Bethlehem, PA 18015-3170
(610) 758-5003
Received on Fri Feb 04 2005 - 13:36:05 GMT

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