Re: A Simple Way to Optimize the NIH Public Access Policy

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Fri, 24 Jun 2005 11:15:18 -0400

On Fri, 24 Jun 2005, David Goodman wrote:

> It has the disadvantage of having to devise new systems for
> quality control, but I think the academic world can manage that.

General principle: Any OA strategy that begins with or depends on a
premise or conclusion like the above is wrong. It is barking up the wrong
tree. 100% OA can and will be reached by 100% self-archiving in authors'
own IRs. 92% of journals already say go ahead, but it does not depend on
what journals say or don't say, and never has. It depends on what
authors do (which in turn depends on what their institutions and funders
require them to do).

"Devising new systems of quality control" has absolutely nothing to do
with it. It is merely a way for those who prefer to wait or speculate
to fill their time.

> I suggest that the best attitude for us is that we have won
> on principle, and now merely need to spend a year or two improving
> the details and extending the coverage.

There is no principle other than that maximizing research usage and
impact by maximizing research access is optimal for research, researchers,
their institutions and their funders. That is virtually self-evident. What
needs to be done to maximize research access has also been obvious
for at least 10 years. What needs to be done is to *provide* that access
at long last -- not "spend [yet another!] year or two improving improving
the details"! -- by putting that principle into practice, *exactly* as
Southampton and CERN have done.

> For one thing we do have an actually functioning scheme, if only in one
> subject and one country-- inadequate though it certainly is.

We certainly do not! If you mean NIH, it is a dysfunctional scheme.
The UK Select Committee and Berlin-3 have a scheme, and Southampton and
CERN have already put it into successful practice. And the scheme is
neither country- nor subject-specific. And the lastest Swan/Brown JISC
study confirms that the vast majority of researchers will *wiilingly*

> I think PMC has real reasons apart from OA for needing to be a
> repository

Fine: Let them be a harvested repository, enhancing the harvested
metadata any way they wish. But let self-archiving be done by the
content-providers (the researchers institutions) in their own
institutional OA repositories. Then harvest from there, exactly as
recommended by Swan et al.

> perhaps it would be profitable to concentrate on the embargo front

Certainly not! The embargo nonsense is best ignored, and not emulated,
elsewhere on the planet.

Stevan Harnad

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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:

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     BOAI-2 ("gold"): Publish your article in a open-access journal if/when
             a suitable one exists.
     in BOTH cases self-archive a supplementary version of your article
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Received on Fri Jun 24 2005 - 16:15:18 BST

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