Replies for SSHRC Consultation on Open Access

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Fri, 4 Nov 2005 13:44:12 +0000 (GMT)

    Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) (Canada)
    Consultation on Open Access All quotes are from:

> Should SSHRC adopt [a] regulation requiring that one copy of all
> research results be deposited in an institutional repository?

Yes, but SSHRC should make sure that what they require to be deposited
is the author's final draft, *not* necessarily the publisher's official
version (PDF). That's all the RCUK is requiring; that's all the NIH and
Wellcome require; and that's all that's needed for 100% OA.

The publisher's PDF can be deposited too, optionally, if the publisher
agrees; but it is impostant to make sure SSHRC doesn't get bogged down
by that, by needlessly insisting on the publisher's version instead of
just the author's final draft.

> Should such a regulation apply to all forms of research outputs
> (i.e. peer-reviewed journal articles, non-peer reviewed research
> reports, monographs, data sets, theses, conference proceedings,
> etc.)?

It should be mandatory for authors' final drafts of journal and
refereed-conference articles for sure.

It's up to SSHRC whether to make it mandatory for data too.

It is tricky to force authors to make unrefereed reports public if they
don't wish to, so that should probably be optional, merely recommended,
not required.

Monographs are even trickier, as there is no need to jeopardise
OA's main target -- research articles -- by needlessly threatening
authors' potential revenues from books: Of course SSHRC authors make
next to no money that way, and of course many SSHRC authors will be
happy to self-archive their monographs anyway; but SSHRC should on
no account put the real OA target at risk by needlessly over-reaching:
Require self-archiving for articles, but only recommend it (strongly,
if SSHRC wishes) for books.

Theses too are tricky, because some are destined to be books, and SSHRC
is not really supporting the thesis itself, just the supervisor's
research. So it might inspire less needless author opposition if thesis
self-archiving too were strongly recommended, rather than required, as
with articles.

> Should there be exceptions for research outputs where there is an
> expectation of financial return to the author (i.e., monographs where
> royalties are accrued)?

Yes, definitely exempt them: OA is for give-away writing, written for
research impact, not for trade writings, written for sales-revenue.

> In general, there are two accepted routes to open access:
> Self-archiving - depositing research results and materials in
> institutional repositories that can be searched by anyone with
> Internet access;

OA Self-archiving is exactly what can and should be mandated.

> Open access electronic journals - peer-reviewed journals that
> provide Internet-based access for readers without subscription
> charges.

OA journal-publishing cannot and hence should not be mandated,

    (1) there aren't anywhere near enough suitable OA journals in
    most fields yet;

    (2) dictating authors' choice of journals would only elicit needless
    opposition from authors;

   (3) authors can be mandated, but publishers cannot;

   (4) hence mixing OA archiving and OA publishing into the same mandate
   will just elicit publisher opposition to *both* (needlessly);

   (5) OA self-archiving will already take care of 100% OA for all
   SSHRC research output,

Let journal reform take care of itself: SSHRC's concern should only
be with research access (and impact). Mixing that up with forced
journal-reform will again just elicit needless opposition and delay for
the primary target: 100% OA for Canadian SSHRC-funded research article
output (authors' final drafts) so that all users worldwide can access,
use, apply and build upon it, and not just those users who (or whose
institutions) happen to be able to afford to access the journal in which
the publisher's official version happens to be published.

Publishing in OA journals should be encouraged where possible, but not
mandated. IF SSHRC wishes, it can offer to help support authors' OA
journal publishing costs.

In sum: Mandating OA self-archiving and encouraging (and supporting) OA
publishing is all that's needed from SSHRC. The rest will come with the
territory. But if SSHRC instead needlessly over-reaches, needlessly
trying to strong-arm publishing reform directly, the whole thing will
just get needlessly bogged down for years more.

> Both routes present SSHRC and the research community with operational
> challenges:
> 1. Institutional repositories: Building a management
> and service platform

Institutional repositories present no "operation challenges," either
for SSHRC or for institutions. Institutional Repositories (IRs) can
and will take care of themselves. SSHRC should mandate self-archiving,
and the IRs will be created and filled.

SSHRC needs no central SSHRC or Canadian archive. Distributed
institutional self-archiving is the most natural, and efficient route to
100% OA: the IRs all interoperable because they are OAI-compliant. If
SSHRC wishes, it can harvest from them the articles it has funded. See
the Swan/Brown JISC study on central vs. distributed institutional
self-archiving and central harvesting:

    Swan, A., Needham, P., Probets, S., Muir, A., Oppenheim,
    C., O'Brien, A., Hardy, R., Rowland, F. and Brown, S. (2005)
    Developing a model for e-prints and open access journal content in
    UK further and higher education. Learned Publishing 18(1):pp. 25-40.

> Currently, not all Canadian universities provide an institutional
> repository service. Some 26 repositories are now in place, or are in
> development, but this does not yet provide the necessary services for
> all SSHRC-funded researchers.

Every Canadian university is less than $10,000 away from having an IR.
This is a red herring.

> If required by SSHRC, would you be willing to send all outputs from
> SSHRC-funded research to an institutional repository?

Of course. (I already do.) Another JISC Swan & Brown worldwide survey
has already reported that 90% of Canadian researchers worlwide would
comply (80% willingly, 10% reluctantly). This is almost identical to the
international average of 95% compliance (81% willingly, 14%

    Swan, A. (2005) Open access self-archiving: An Introduction.
    Technical Report, JISC, HEFCE.

> What range of electronic publications and institutional repository
> services are needed to fully meet the needs of the scholarly
> community? See, for example (, a
> Quebec-based electronic service provider. Should this model be
> extended across Canada?

Erudit is not an institutional repository, it is a journal archive. For
institutional repositories, see:

Don't mix up journal repositories with institutional repositories. It is
the latter that are needed, and all that's missing is the SSHRC mandate.
Mandate institutional self-archiving and the archives will be created,
and the archives will be filled, with the primary target content (author
final drafts of refereed journal articles).

If SSHRC wants to emulate a Quebec self-archiving model, have a look at
the institutional self-archiving policy shortly to be announced by
l'Université du Québec à Montréal.

Or see the mandates of CERN, University of Minho, University of Zurich,
Queensland University of Technology, or University of Southampton in:

> Open access journals: Revising the SSHRC Aid to Research and
> Transfer Journals Program. Although SSHRC financially supports the
> majority of social science and humanities journals produced in
> Canada , the Aid to Research and Transfer Journals Program does not
> provide support for non-subscription based journals. Scholarly
> peer-reviewed journals play a crucial role in the certification of
> research knowledge. In the context of open access, institutional
> repositories must be able to distinguish between peer-reviewed and
> non-peer-reviewed research outputs. Therefore, the continued
> existence, and financial viability, of journals is clearly a
> critical issue.

The continued existence of peer-reviewed journals is not at issue, as
long as SSHRC resists mixing up publishing reform (gold) with OA
self-archiving (green).

    Harnad, S. (2005) Fast-Forward on the Green Road to Open Access:
    The Case Against Mixing Up Green and Gold. Ariadne 43.

It is the authors' final drafts of journal articles that need to be
self-archived, and they will be tagged as "peer-reviewed final drafts"
(plus journal name).

Journals' financial viability is not at issue; nor is there any
objective evidence to date that it is at risk.

The only thing at issue is research access; and the only thing at risk
(indeed 50%-250% of it is being outright lost today) is research usage and

    Harnad, Stevan (2005) Making the case for web-based self-archiving.
    Research Money 19(16).

> Please comment on each of the three following possible ways to
> tackle this challenge, taking into consideration the fact that there
> are limited resources for the support of research:

> A "moving wall" system where journal articles are available only by
> subscription for the first six months, and then made available free
> of charge.

Very bad. And why are journal funding issues being mixed up with funded
research access issues?

Self-archiving should be immediate, upon acceptance of the final
refereed draft for publication by the journal.

No "moving walls" (unless the journal wishes to make its own contents OA
after a period of its choosing, which is fine, but completely
independent from the issue of immediate self-archiving by the author,
and an SSHRC requirement to do it).

"Please Don't Copy-Cat Clone NIH-12 Non-OA Policy!" (Jan 2005)

> A publication fee, charged by journals to authors, to be considered
> an eligible expense within a SSHRC research grant. This would
> require researchers to have access to SSHRC or other grant funds.

Good idea, if the journal is an OA journal; absurd and irrelevant if it
is not.

> A modification to the SSHRC support program for journals -- which
> currently covers 40 to 50 per cent of journal expenditures -- to
> allow grants to cover all peer review, administration = and
> manuscript preparation costs, but not costs associated with
> distribution.

Only if the journals become OA. But this has nothing whatsoever to do
with the SSHRC self-archiving requirement and should not be mixed up
with it in any way.

> As journal editors, do you allow your contributing authors to place
> their accepted articles in an institutional repository or on a Web
> site not connected with the journal? Why, or why not?

Who is being asked? The Romeo registry lists the 8620 journals
indexed so far for their self-archiving policy, and 93% of them endorse
it, 7% do not. Journal editors should register their policies if they
are not already registered:

> As researchers/authors, would you be willing to comply with a SSHRC
> regulation that requires peer-reviewed articles to be published in
> an open access journal and/or placed in a publicly-accessible
> institutional repository?

Why is this question being asked in this illogical and arbitrary
composite/interwoven form (worthy of a gerry-rigged referendum query,
contingent on all sorts of unfulfilled and unfulfillable premises)
instead of being asked in a straight-forward way?

The two (separate!) straight-forward questions should be:

    (1) Would you be willing to comply with a SSHRC regulation that
    requires peer-reviewed articles to be placed in a publicly-accessible
    institutional repository?

(The replies are very likely to be those we already know from the two
JISC international surveys.)

    (2) Would you be willing to comply with a SSHRC regulation that
    recommends peer-reviewed articles to be published in an open access
    journal when possible?

(As this is a recommendation and not a mandate, and only pertains to
cases when the author judges that a suitable journal exists, the outcome
will not be terribly informative; in any case, the JISC surveys have
already polled authors on this score, and they are favorably inclined
toward *suitable* OA journals, if/when they exist. Now back to the real
problem, with is the non-existence of OA for the 85% of worldwide
research article output that is not yet being self-archived: *That* is
what the SSHRC self-archiving mandate -- (1), above -- is for. The rest
will take care of itself.)

Stevan Harnad
Received on Wed Nov 09 2005 - 19:54:30 GMT

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