Against Promoting Pre-Emptive Gold OA Payment Before Mandating Green OA Provision

From: Stevan Harnad <amsciforum_at_GMAIL.COM>
Date: Mon, 23 Aug 2010 12:41:33 -0400

On Mon, Aug 23, 2010 at 10:10 AM, Velterop <> wrote:

> Might Stevan be implying that OA forums should not be promoting
> financial/commercial sustainability of OA? Is it OA he is for, or is it
> commercial activity he is against? Or is he a denialist when it comes to the
> contribution of commercial ventures to OA?

Jan does not seem to have noticed that I said Gold OA should not be
paid for or promoted *until/unless Green OA has been mandated.*

No, OA is not about promoting financial/commercial sustainability, it
is about providing OA.

And (Green) OA can be provided for free.

Publishers are (understandably) interested in promoting the
financial/commercial sustainability of their business.

But what is missing today is not the financial/commercial
sustainability of the publishing business. What is missing today is

And, to repeat, (Green) OA can be provided for free.

*If and when* Green OA has been universally mandated, and *if and
when* that in turn should prove to make the financial/commercial
sustainability of the publishing business a genuine practical problem,
rather than the hypothetical pseudo-problem it is now, then you can
count on my whole-hearted "affirmationism."

Till then, you can count on my denialism:

The promotion of pre-emptive Gold OA payment is an obstacle to
achieving universal OA.

After Green OA is universally mandated, it is not.

But Green OA is far from being universally mandated; whereas the hand
is already outstretched for pre-emptive Gold OA payment.

Pre-emptive paid Gold OA is an obstacle to achieving universal OA
until Green OA is universally mandated.

    Harnad, S. (2010) The Immediate Practical Implication of the
Houghton Report: Provide Green Open Access Now. Prometheus, 28 (1).
pp. 55-59.

    Harnad, S. (2009) The PostGutenberg Open Access Journal. In: Cope,
B. & Phillips, A (Eds.) The Future of the Academic Journal. Chandos.

    Harnad, S. (2007) The Green Road to Open Access: A Leveraged
Transition. In: Anna Gacs. The Culture of Periodicals from the
Perspective of the Electronic Age. L'Harmattan. 99-106.

Stevan Harnad

> Stevan Harnad wrote:
> I wonder if it is a good idea for Open Access forums to become the publicity
> vehicles for commercial deals?
> Stevan Harnad
> Scaling to Global OA: Parallel Local Green/Gold Is OK, But Gold Alone First,
> No Way
> Trying to morph incoming institutional non-OA journal-fleet subscriptions
> into outgoing institutional Gold OA journal-fleet "memberships" is
> incoherent and cannot scale across journals and institutions; alongside an
> institutional Green OA mandate, however, it is innocuous: The Green mandates
> will ensure the real, leveraged, scalable, unstoppable progress toward
> global OA. Without an institutional Green OA mandate, pursuing local Gold OA
> "memberships" is not only futile but a retardant on real progress toward
> global OA, creating instead an illusory local sense of progress that further
> distracts from and obscures what really needs to be done locally to generate
> global OA.
> The Immediate Practical Implication of the Houghton Report: Provide Green
> Open Access Now
> ABSTRACT: Among the many important implications of Houghton et al’s (2009)
> timely and illuminating JISC analysis of the costs and benefits of providing
> free online access (“Open Access,” OA) to peer-reviewed scholarly and
> scientific journal articles one stands out as particularly compelling: It
> would yield a forty-fold benefit/cost ratio if the world’s peer-reviewed
> research were all self-archived by its authors so as to make it OA. There
> are many assumptions and estimates underlying Houghton et al’s modelling and
> analyses, but they are for the most part very reasonable and even
> conservative. This makes their strongest practical implication particularly
> striking: The 40-fold benefit/cost ratio of providing Green OA is an order
> of magnitude greater than all the other potential combinations of
> alternatives to the status quo analyzed and compared by Houghton et al. This
> outcome is all the more significant in light of the fact that self-archiving
> already rests entirely in the hands of the research community (researchers,
> their institutions and their funders), whereas OA publishing depends on the
> publishing industry. Perhaps most remarkable is the fact that this outcome
> emerged from studies that approached the problem primarily from the
> standpoint of the economics of publication rather than the economics of
> research.
> OA McMemberships, Dismemberment and MC Escher
> Gold OA institutional "membership" is incoherent and does not scale. It only
> gives the illusion of making sense if you think of it locally, and
> myopically. Annual institutional subscriptions to journals containing the
> annual outgoing refereed research of all other institutions do not morph
> into annual institutional memberships for publishing each institution's own
> outgoing refereed research. There are 25,000 journals and 10,000
> institutions! Is every single institution to commit and contract in advance
> to pay for its authors' (potential) fraction of annual submissions to every
> single journal? Is that a "membership" or a distributed dismemberment? And
> is every journal to commit and contract in advance to accept every
> institution's annual fraction of submissions? (Is that peer review?) This is
> a global oligopolistic illusion that would fit publishers just about as well
> as it would fit McDonalds, except there are at least 25,000 different
> journals to "join", and institutions each have thousands of author-consumers
> with diverse dietary needs, varying day to day and year to year.
> Gold Conversion: A Prisoners' Dilemma?
> Given the undeniable, irreversible and growing clamour for Open Access (OA)
> worldwide, journal publishers face two Prisoners' Dilemmas.
> (1) The first concerns whether to continue business as usual, to mounting
> opprobrium from the academic community as well as the tax-paying public, or
> to convert directly to Gold OA now, at the risk that institutional
> subscriptions at current prices for incoming journals may not transmute
> stably into institutional "memberships" for outgoing article publication
> costs at the same institutional price. If publishers convert from
> institutional subscriptions to institutional Gold OA "memberships" today,
> they counter the opprobrium and lock in current subscription rates for a
> year (or whatever duration-deal is agreed with institutions), but they risk
> institutional memberships defecting after the duration elapses, with
> cost-recovery fragmented to an anarchic individual author/article level that
> may not be enough to make ends meet.
> (2) The second Prisoners' Dilemma facing publishers is that if they instead
> counter the opprobrium by converting to Green OA now (as 62% of them already
> have done), Green OA Self-Archiving Mandates may still force their
> conversion to Gold eventually, but because access-provision and archiving
> (and their costs) will by then be performed by the distributed network of
> mandated Green OA Institutional Repositories, the revenues (and expenses) of
> journal publishing then may be reduced from what they are now. (Perhaps this
> can all be integrated into just a single Prisoners' Dilemma -- or perhaps it
> is not a Prisoners' Dilemma at all: just the optimal and inevitable outcome
> of the powerful new potential unleashed by the online medium for the
> communication of peer-reviewed scholarly and scientific research.)
> On Not Putting The Gold OA-Payment Cart Before The Green OA-Provision Horse
> SUMMARY: Universities need to commit to mandating Green OA self-archiving
> before committing to spend their scarce available funds to pay for Gold OA
> publishing. Most of the university's potential funds to pay Gold OA
> publishing fees are currently committed to paying their annual journal
> subscription fees, which are thereby covering the costs of publication
> already. Pre-emptively committing to pay Gold OA publication fees over and
> above paying subscription fees will only provide OA for a small fraction of
> a university's total research article output; Green OA mandates will provide
> OA for all of it. Journal subscriptions cannot be cancelled unless the
> journals' contents are otherwise accessible to a university's users. (In
> addition, the very same scarcity of funds that makes pre-emptive Gold OA
> payment for journal articles today premature and ineffectual also makes Gold
> OA payment for monographs unaffordable, because the university funds already
> committed to journal subscriptions today are making even the purchase of a
> single print copy of incoming monographs for the library prohibitive, let
> alone making Gold OA publication fees for outgoing monographs affordable.)
> Universal Green OA mandates will make the final peer-reviewed drafts of all
> journal articles freely accessible to all would-be users online, thereby not
> only providing universal OA, but opening the doors to an eventual transition
> to universal Gold OA if and when universities then go on to cancel
> subscriptions, releasing those committed funds to pay the publishing costs
> of Gold OA.
> Springer's Already on the Side of the Angels: What's the Big Deal?
> SUMMARY: The Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU) has made
> a deal with Springer that articles by VSNU authors will be made OA. But
> Springer is already on the side of the angels on OA, being completely Green
> on immediate, unembargoed author OA self-archiving. Hence all VSNU authors
> are already free to deposit their refereed final drafts of their Springer
> articles in their institutional repositories, without requiring any further
> permission or payment. So what in addition is meant by the VSNU deal with
> Springer? that the Springer PDF rather than the author's final draft can be
> deposited? That Springer does the deposit on VSNU authors' behalf? Or is
> this a deal for prepaid hybrid Gold OA? In the case of Springer articles, it
> seems that what the Netherlands lacked was not the right to make them OA,
> but the mandate (from the VSNU universities and Netherlands' research
> funders like NWO) to make them OA. There are some signs, however, that this
> too might be on the way...
> University of California: Throwing Money At Gold OA Without Mandating Green
> OA
> On 2010-08-23, at 8:22 AM, Peter Suber wrote:
> [Forwarding from Renate Bayaz at Springer. --Peter Suber.]
> Springer and Helmholtz Association sign agreement for open access membership
Received on Mon Aug 23 2010 - 17:43:44 BST

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