petermr's blog

A Scientist and the Web

 

The Open Access Movement is disorganized; this must not continue

I am going to have to reply to an article by Stevan Harnad (http://openaccess.eprints.org/index.php?/archives/862-guid.html ) where he argues inter alia that gratisOA (e.g. through Green, CC-restricted) rather than libreOA (e.g. through Gold, or CC-BY) should be adopted because:

“Note that many peer-reviewed journal article authors may not want to allow others to make and publish re-mixes of their verbatim texts”

“It is not at all it clear, however, that researchers want and need the right to make and publish re-mixes of other researchers’ verbatim texts.”

“Nor is it clear that all or most researchers want to allow others to make and publish re-mixes of their verbatim texts. “

“Hence Gratis OA clearly fulfils an important, universal and longstanding universal need of research and researchers.

This is a new, specious and highly damaging assertion that I have to challenge. If we restrict ourselves to STM publishing (where almost all of the funders’ efforts are concentrated) there is not a shred of evidence that any author wishes to restrict the re-use of their publications through licences. My analysis is:

  • Most scientists don’t care about Open Access. (Unfortunate, but we have to change that)
  • Of the ones that care, almost none care about licence details. If they are told it is “open Access” and fulfils the funders’ requirements then they will agree to anything. If the publisher has a page labelled “full Open Access – CC-NC – consistent with NIH funding” then they won’t think twice about what the licence is.
  • Of the ones who care I have never met a case of a scientist – and I want to restrict the discussion to STM – who wishes to restrict the use of their material through licences. No author says “You can look at my graph, but I am going to sue you if you reproduce it” (although some publishers, such as Wiley did in the Shelley Batts affair, and presumably still do).

My larger point, however, is that the OA movement is disorganised and because of that is ineffective. The movement :

  • Cannot agree on what “open access” means in practice
  • Appears to be composed of factions which while they agree on some things disagree on enough others to make this a serious problem.
  • Does not sufficiently alert its followers to serious issues
  • Has no simple central resource for public analysis of the major issues.
  • Is composed of isolated individuals and groups rather than acting on a concerted strategy
  • Spends (directly or indirectly) large amounts of public money (certainly hundreds of millions of dollars in author-side fees) without changing the balance of the market
  • Has no clear intermediate or end-goals

I accept that all movements have differences of opinion. This happened in the Open Source movement. Richard Stallman proposed a model of [UPDATED] Free Software with a strong political/moral basis. Software should be free and should be a tool of liberation, and hence the viral GPL (similar to CC-BY-SA). Others see software as a public good where optimum values is obtained by requiring libre publication but not restricting downstream works to this model (similar to CC-BY). These coexist fairly well in two families – copyleft and copyright. There are adherents of both – my own approach is copyright where anyone can use my software downstream for whatever purpose save only crediting the authors (and with ArtisticLicence requiring forks to use a different name).

The point relevant to Open Access is that this market / movement is regulated. They have formed The Open Source Initiative (OSI, http://www.opensource.org/) which

“is a non-profit corporation with global scope formed to educate about and advocate for the benefits of open source and to build bridges among different constituencies in the open source community.”

“One of our most important activities is as a standards body, maintaining the Open Source Definition for the good of the community. The Open Source Initiative Approved License trademark and program creates a nexus of trust around which developers, users, corporations and governments can organize open source cooperation.”

This is critical.

When I find an Open Source program, I know what I am getting. When I find an Open Access paper I haven’t a clue what I am getting. When I publish my code as Open Source I can’t make up the rules. I must have a licence and it must be approved by OSI (they have a long list of conformant licences and discuss why some other licences are non-conformant.

The Open Source movement decided early on that the Non-Commercial clause in licences was inappropriate / incorrect / unworkable and NO OSI licences allow such restrictions. This is one of the great achievements of OpenSource

And it’s policed. When I published some GPL-licenced CML-generating code I added the constraint “if you alter this code you cannot claim the result is CML”. I was contacted by the FSF and told this was incompatible with the GPL. So I changed it.

In short the OS community cares about what Open Source is, how it is defined, how it is labelled and whether the practice conforms to the requirements.

By contrast the OA community does not care about these things.

That’s a harsh thing to say, and there are many individuals and organizations who do care. But as a whole there is no coherent place where the OA movement expresses its concern and where concerns can be raised.

The problem can be expressed simply. “Open Access” was defined in the Budapest and other declarations. Budapest (see http://www.earlham.edu/~peters/fos/boaifaq.htm ) says:

“By ‘open access’ to this literature, we mean its free availability on the public internet, permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of these articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself. The only constraint on reproduction and distribution, and the only role for copyright in this domain, should be to give authors control over the integrity of their work and the right to be properly acknowledged and cited.”

Everyone (including Stevan) would agree that this is now consistent with what is (belatedly) being labelled as OA-libre. Note that Stevan was a signatory to this definition of Open Access.

My immediate concern is that unless we organize the definition, labelling and practice of Open Access we are simply giving OA-opponents or OA-doubters carte blanche to do whatever they like without being brought to account. We are throwing away hundreds of millions of dollars in a wasteful fashion. We are exposing people to legal action because the terms are undefined.

In short “Open Access” is a legally meaningless term. And, whether you like it or not, the law matters. If you try to re-use non-libre material because it was labelled “Open Access” you could still end up in court.

As a UK taxpayer I fund scientists to do medical research (through the MRC). The MRC has decided (rightly) that the results of scientific research should be made Open. But they are not Open according to the BOAI declaration. Every paper costs taxpayers 3000 USD to publish and we do not get our money’s worth.

The fundamental problem is that this is an unregulated micro-monopoly market and no-one really cares. The BBC discuss today about how some bus operators had 70% of the market. That means they have an effective monopoly. They can run the services they want, not what we need. The only possible constraint is government regulation.

Scientific publishing is an unregulated pseudo-monopoly market where the publishers make the rules and make the prices. The bargaining (such as it is) comes from:

  • Libraries (who are fragmented, and who care only about price, not rights)
  • Funders (who are fragmented across disciplines and countries)
  • Small scholarly organisations such as SPARC. (BTW I thought SPARC was advocating for OA-libre but I can’t see much sign)
  • Individuals such as Stevan, Peter Suber, Alma Swan, with relatively little coordination and no bargaining power

These have been ineffectual in creating a coherent OA market. BMC and PLoS have been very useful in showing that OA is possible on several fronts – without them I think OA in STM would be effectively dead.

So the OA movement desperately needs coordination. Coordination of:

  • Terminology
  • labelling
  • Dissemination of information and coordinated search
  • Advocacy
  • Enforcement

It also needs to coordinate on price-bargaining in a more effective way than libraries do at the moment. We (our governments, our charities, our universities) provide the money but they don’t coordinate how it’s spent or what value they get.

So my simple proposal is that we need an Open Access Institute/initiative similar to the OSI for Open Source. It would cost a small fraction of what we already pay in unregulated Open Access fees (who for example challenges the 5000 USD that Nature charges for a hybrid paper). It costs more to run a car than to publish one hybrid paper per year in Nature.

Stevan’s response will be: “let’s concentrate on getting all papers published as Green before we worry about anything else”. I don’t agree with this and I will explain more later. The OAI will have to accommodate such differences of opinion and label the approaches properly rather than allowing everyone to redefine Open Access as they think best or trying to get everyone under a common ultra-fuzzy label.

[UPDATE: I typed "Open Source" instead of "Free Software" by mistake and apologize to RMS for the slip.]

 

25 Responses to “The Open Access Movement is disorganized; this must not continue”

  1. Mike Taylor says:

    First of all, I strongly agree with your broad point, that we need more clarity in exactly what is meant by Open Access, and more muscle in negotiating for and enforcing it. I agree agree that a widely recognised institute would be helpful in achieving this, and I would like to be a part of such an institute.

    A couple of less important points, though.

    First, Richard Stallman would be horrified to read that he “proposed a model of Open Source”. He strongly dislikes the term Open Source and believes that it describes something which, while good, is completely different from the specific good that he wants to promote. See http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/open-source-misses-the-point.html

    Second, while I agree that CC-BY is a much better OA licence than CC-BY-NC and that we should push hard for its adoption whenever possible, I wonder whether any publisher that has made open-access article available under and NC licence has actually pursued someone who reused the article in a way not technically compatible with NC? I don’t know of any such examples, and I’d be interested to hear of them. Surely doing this would be an enormous publicity own-goal?

    • pm286 says:

      >>First, Richard Stallman would be horrified to read that he “proposed a model of Open Source”. He strongly dislikes the term Open Source and believes that it describes something which, while good, is completely different from the specific good that he wants to promote. See http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/open-source-misses-the-point.html

      PMR scores an own goal. I ought to know better.

      >>Second, while I agree that CC-BY is a much better OA licence than CC-BY-NC and that we should push hard for its adoption whenever possible, I wonder whether any publisher that has made open-access article available under and NC licence has actually pursued someone who reused the article in a way not technically compatible with NC? I don’t know of any such examples, and I’d be interested to hear of them. Surely doing this would be an enormous publicity own-goal?

      The commercial organizations (e.g. search engines) do this all the time, of course. No o. ne is going to pursue them.

      It’s more likely that the licence would be broached by someone reusing material in a textbook. I doubt whether a mainstream publisher would pursue this (though they probably could) but an example would be if a publisher went bust, got bought by a troll who then sued everyone who had used content from them. Or maybe a rights agency which took a blanket approach to all content from a closed publisher. Many automatic systems ignore hybrid rights – it’s too much trouble and you get more revenue. It’s not hypothetical.

      • Mike Taylor says:

        You’re right — I’d forgotten the problem of trolls. While (say) Elsevier still try to maintain some semblance of working with and for the academic community, and would be reluctant to blow their cover by suing someone for reusing portions of an open-access article, there is never any guarantee that the copyrights won’t fall into the hands of lowlife with no reputation to protect.

  2. Ross Mounce says:

    PMR: Thoroughly agreed!

    What about the Open Knowledge Foundation, wrt to organising a movement for the advancement, education and promotion of full Open Access (BOAI) research publication in science? [for the benefit of others: http://okfn.org/ Are they too broad-focused to pursue this issue at an organisational level?

    In response to Stevan's assertion [IMO, simply and demonstrably untrue for science]:
    “It is not at all it clear, however, that researchers want and need the right to make and publish re-mixes of other researchers’ verbatim texts.”

    perhaps we should set about crowd-sourcing a compilation of REAL examples from published research and other sources, where there has been a need (and perhaps even, evidence of this having been done or attempted already) for full-text compilations, re-mixes and re-uses e.g. training corpora (corpuses?)

    …on a wiki or an etherpad perhaps?

    Likewise with Mike, you can count on my support for any such initiative to promote full Open Access, and a better understanding of what it is, and why it IS important, to the rest of academia and related stakeholders e.g. funding bodies & research institutions.

    I suspect there are plenty of very willing supporters out there – just a lack of organization and direction, as you say, to harness this relatively untapped enthusiasm.

    • pm286 says:

      Thanks,
      The OKF, of course, is BOAI compliant by defintion(s), but it’s only one of many areas it’s involved in. SPARC-Europe has a sticker for BAOI-compliance and this is used in DOAJ (which are Open Access Journals). However no-one seems to care about BOAI-non-compliance in hybrids and they should. There are enough people in OA that they should be chasing this through existing means.

  3. A very thorough and well presented view on the status of open access.
    I agree with you that the movement is fragmented and that we need to unite to gain the necessary force for changing the publishing business. I do not think that most scientists don’t care about open access. Many are supportive and the fragmentation of the open access movement and the resulting fuzziness might be the reason that people remain inert. Your recommendation for an Open Access Initiative is just what the movement needs, it would provide a means to link all active groups and would give the movement a clear and single voice.
    I have been playing for some time now with the idea of establishing a website / foundation for Open access for all the reasons you describe and more. The foundation could work like the open source initiative and in addition I was thinking of using the foundation for developing and promoting tools for a open access publishing model, like Mendeley, Readermeter,post-publication peer review, impact assessment through social media, promotion of Google+ etc.
    I have been planning this for some time now and now could be the right moment to get real.
    I am willing to offer time and efforts to start and coordinate such an initiative and to do my best to find funding.
    Dr. Tom Olijhoek

    • pm286 says:

      This is a great offer. The OA movement needs fresh blood and energy. Given the requirements of funders then the way forward in STM is pretty clear. I’ll keep my brain in gear.

      • Dear Peter,
        thanks for your very positive reaction. I have been in contact with my collegues at malariaworld and we agreed that starting a new OAinitiative is something we want to do. First thing is setting up a website, i have made arrangements to do that in january 2012. I want to ask you and Peter Suber to think along and therefore I want to send you a preview of the site once it’s finished. All suggestions are welcome, so please anyone reading this tell us about your vision of what the site should offer, and what it should look like.
        regards Tom Olijhoek

  4. If you wish to focus on STM, what about arXiv? http://arxiv.org/

    With “Open access to 723,485 e-prints in Physics, Mathematics, Computer Science, Quantitative Biology, Quantitative Finance and Statistics”, over half a million hits on the main server every day, 18 mirror sites, and a major international initiative underway to ensure ongoing financial sustainability, arXiv is THE place to look, read, and deposit for scholars in certain areas of physics. This free service, developed initially by individual scholar / open access activist Paul Ginsparg and reflecting the long-standing tradition of sharing of preprints among physicists, is arguably the reason the whole high energy physics community has embarked on the first disciplinary systemic transition to full open access through SCOAP3. Both arXiv and SCOAP3 are, I would argue, very well organized and not in need of any assistance with this. If anything, the rest of us should look to these services as possible models for other disciplines to emulate – keeping in mind that different disciplines and sub-disciplines have their own cultures, and what works for one will not work for all.

    • pm286 says:

      I am a great admirer of ArXiV. It has created a culture which works in maths, physics and compsci. It coexists with subsequent formal publication, and peer review for academic merit. It shows that valuable manuscripts can be created with very little explicit funding. The value-add by the subsequent publication is often only the legitimization.

      It does NOT work in bioscience, chemistry, materials, medicine. Whether or not it “should”, it doesn’t. A preprint server was tried in chemistry in ca 1997. It failed. Preprint servers elsewhere do not work.

      Similarly Green open access (whether pre-or post-print) does not work in these sciences. The take up is less than 5% and will never get larger, regardless of exhortation.

      University mandates fail. They fail because they are half-hearted or because universities have little real control over academics.

      In the bio/chem/med field what works is funder mandates. The NIH gets very high compliance. No Open publication, no next grant. Simple, effective. The RCUK should be doing this, because their compliance is much less.

  5. Nick Barnes says:

    I completely agree. You already have Budapest, which is your OSD. You already have a number of Budapest-conformant licenses (e.g. CC-BY). Make an OAI (which can start as a board of the usual suspects, together with a simple website). Start calling out transgressors: anyone using “Open Access” when they don’t mean “Budapest-conformant”. Write to editors and funding agencies. Explain, over and over again, that the meaning of “Open Access” was laid down ten years ago and has not changed.

    Sadly, AFAIK “Open Source” is also a legally meaningless term. As I recall, when the OSI was formed back in the late 90s they attempted to secure it as a “Service Mark” (SM), specifically to mean “available under an OSD-conformant license”, but were unable to do so, because the term was already in use to mean a variety of different things, not all of which were OSD-conformant. Sound familiar?

    Having said that, this specific OSD meaning of “Open Source” has spread since then and passed into common parlance among a very large community of people (almost certainly a majority of English-speaking software industry professionals, at least). I suspect, though IANAL so this is just a WAG, that this usage has become sufficiently widespread to be worth something in a court. That is, if rights-holder A describes closed-source software as “Open Source”, and B treats it as being OSD-conformant, B may have a sensible defence against an infringement suit by A.

    Also, associating Stallman with “Open Source” will make him quite unhappy. I recommend you find some way of rewriting to bring in the important “Free Software” term.

    • Nick Barnes says:

      Re “worth something in a court”. I didn’t make it clear that this is obviously where you want to get to with “Open Access”. At that point you can treat “Open Access” as meaning “Budapest-compliant”, whether or not that is what the publisher intended by the term.

  6. bill says:

    I was contacted by the FSF and told this was incompatible with the GPL. So I changed it.
    In short the OS community cares about what Open Source is…

    How is the FSF “part of the OS community”? To make that work it seems to me that you need to redefine “OS” — which is what keeps happening to OA.

    (I shall put my more substantive remarks in a separate comment.)

  7. bill says:

    The movement :

    Cannot agree on what “open access” means in practice
    Appears to be composed of factions which while they agree on some things disagree on enough others to make this a serious problem.

    I don’t know who these factions are. \Gratis\ and \Libre\, though they have not caught on, are both accurate and adequate descriptors of the only two serious competing definitions I know about, both of which derive from the BBB family of OA Declarations (which, as I read them, deliberately leave enough room for both). There are accordingly only two factions that I can see: Prof Harnad’s unflagging pursuit of Green/Gratis OA, and in the other (though not exactly opposing) corner those of us who align more with Peter Suber, who sees value in both Green and Gold roads even if the ultimate goal is BOAI-compliant, Libre, OA. If there are more factions, what are their positions and who leads or represents them?

    Does not sufficiently alert its followers to serious issues
    Has no simple central resource for public analysis of the major issues
    Is composed of isolated individuals and groups rather than acting on a concerted strategy

    Three ways to say the same thing: no central authority. If I understand your comments, you propose to create such a central agency, along the lines of the FSF or the OSI, to draw its authority from the community which supports it and use that authority to provide a central locus for definitions, arguments, lobbying, etc. While I am cautiously enthusiastic about that goal, I admit to being daunted by the size of the task. Start with this: how will you get Profs. Harnad and Graf to agree that the Open Access Foundation speaks for both of them? (A famously contentious example but I think it serves my purpose!)

    Spends (directly or indirectly) large amounts of public money (certainly hundreds of millions of dollars in author-side fees) without changing the balance of the market

    I don’t understand how the movement \spends\ anything… unless what you mean is that all the movement has accomplished is to bring into being the current lineup of (mostly Gold) OA journals, and this has had no impact? Perhaps it has not, from a machine’s point of view, but I am also sympathetic to the needs of human eyeballs, for which even Green OA is a tremendous boon.

    • pm286 says:

      >>>I don’t know who these factions are. \Gratis\ and \Libre\, though they have not caught on, are both accurate and adequate descriptors of the only two serious competing definitions I know about, both of which derive from the BBB family of OA Declarations (which, as I read them, deliberately leave enough room for both).

      I don’t read it in this way at all. Gratis imposes serious restrictions on top of BBB. The declarations have not been modified to allow for restrictions. Saying that gratis/Green is compatible with BBB is wrong.

      >>>There are accordingly only two factions that I can see: Prof Harnad’s unflagging pursuit of Green/Gratis OA, and in the other (though not exactly opposing) corner those of us who align more with Peter Suber, who sees value in both Green and Gold roads even if the ultimate goal is BOAI-compliant, Libre, OA. If there are more factions, what are their positions and who leads or represents them?

      Two are enough tohave to tackle. But actually the “Gold-BOAI” group is muddled. How else do we allow “open Access” in hybrids to mean almost whatever the publisher (not community) wants

      >>>Does not sufficiently alert its followers to serious issues
      Has no simple central resource for public analysis of the major issues
      Is composed of isolated individuals and groups rather than acting on a concerted strategy

      >>>Three ways to say the same thing: no central authority. If I understand your comments, you propose to create such a central agency, along the lines of the FSF or the OSI, to draw its authority from the community which supports it and use that authority to provide a central locus for definitions, arguments, lobbying, etc. While I am cautiously enthusiastic about that goal, I admit to being daunted by the size of the task.

      I never said it would be easy. But if funders are spending hundreds of millions on non-BOAI-compliant “open access” it should be possible.

      >>>Start with this: how will you get Profs. Harnad and Graf to agree that the Open Access Foundation speaks for both of them? (A famously contentious example but I think it serves my purpose!)

      I never suggested that (a) they could be brought together and (b) that the OKF should speak for anyone. All I have noted is that the BOAI is OKD-compliant.

      >>>Spends (directly or indirectly) large amounts of public money (certainly hundreds of millions of dollars in author-side fees) without changing the balance of the market

      >>>I don’t understand how the movement \spends\ anything… unless what you mean is that all the movement has accomplished is to bring into being the current lineup of (mostly Gold) OA journals, and this has had no impact? Perhaps it has not, from a machine’s point of view, but I am also sympathetic to the needs of human eyeballs, for which even Green OA is a tremendous boon.

      I am not arguing against the existence or value of Green, though in many fields it’s not working and if it did I cannot see its logical endpoint. I am arguing that the BBB-definition of OA does not apply to a wide range of “open access” offerings, for which many people pay lots of money.

  8. Matt Hodgkinson says:

    There is the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association, OASPA. http://www.oaspa.org/

  9. bill says:

    I don’t read it in this way at all.

    You’re right, I mis-spoke in paraphrasing Peter Suber:

    …the three component statements of the BBB definition do not agree on exactly which permission barriers must be removed. There’s room for variety here. BBB requires removing barriers to copying and redistribution. It doesn’t require removing barriers to commercial re-use; authors can go either way on this. Two of the three BBB component definitions require removing barriers to derivative works.

    [...]

    The BBB definition functions as a usefully firm definition of “open access” even if it leaves room for variation. We should agree that OA removes some permission barriers (e.g. on copying, redistribution, and printing) even if it leaves different OA providers free to adopt different policies on others (e.g. on derivative works and commercial re-use).

    If there’s “deliberate” room for anything, it’s not permission barriers but barriers to commercial and derivative use.

  10. bill says:

    One more, and then it’s Merry Christmas from me.

    I never suggested that (a) they could be brought together and (b) that the OKF should speak for anyone. All I have noted is that the BOAI is OKD-compliant.

    Perhaps I was too glib to be clear. I didn’t mean the OKF, I meant your proposed new Central Authority for Telling Everyone What OA Is. If the proposed Central Authority, etc, is to be more successful than SPARC, SHERPA/RoMEO etc, then it will indeed have to speak for everyone.

  11. PM-R: “Stevan Harnad… argues inter alia that gratisOA (e.g. through Green, CC-restricted) rather than libreOA (e.g. through Gold, or CC-BY) should be adopted…”

    Actually, I argue that Gratis Green OA rather than Libre OA should be mandated (by researchers’ institutions and funders), because

    (1) 100% OA is reachable only if we mandate it;
    (2) only Green OA self-archiving (not Gold OA publishing) can be mandated;
    (3) all researchers want to provide Gratis OA (free online access);
    (4) not all researchers want to provide Libre OA (free online access plus remix and republication rights);
    (5) all disciplines need Gratis OA;
    (6) not all disciplines need Libre OA’
    (7) Gratis OA is much more urgent than Libre OA;
    (8) 100% Gratis OA is already reachable, 100% Libre OA is not;
    (9) publisher restrictions are less of an obstacle for Gratis OA;
    (10) Mandating Green Gratis OA is not only the fastest, surest and cheapest way to reach 100% Gratis OA but it is also the fastest, surest and cheapest way to reach Gold OA and Libre OA thereafter.

    PM-R: “If we restrict ourselves to STM publishing (where almost all of the funders’ efforts are concentrated) there is not a shred of evidence that any author wishes to restrict the re-use of their publications through licenses.”

    (a) OA is not just for STM articles: it’s for peer-reviewed research in all disciplines

    (b) It is not just funders who are mandating OA but also institutions, for all research, funded and funded, in all disciplines

    (c) Ask, and you will find more than a shred of evidence that not all authors (not even all STM authors) want to allow their verbatim texts to be re-mixed and re-published by anyone, without restriction.

    (d) What all authors want re-used and re-mixed are their ideas and findings, not their verbatim texts.

    (e) STM authors do want their figures and tables to be re-used and re-published, but with Green Gratis OA, that can be done; it is only their verbatim texts that they don’t want tampered with.

    PM-R: “Most scientists don’t care about Open Access. (Unfortunate, but we have to change that)”

    Most still don’t know about it, and those who do are afraid to provide it, even though it has been demonstrated to be beneficial for them and their research (in terms of uptake, usage, applications, citations, impact, progress).

    And that’s just why OA mandates are needed.

    PM-R: “Of the ones that care, almost none care about details. If they are told it is “open Access” and fulfils the funders’ requirements then they will agree to anything. If the publisher has a page labeled “full Open Access – CC-NC – consistent with NIH funding” then they won’t think twice about what the license is.”

    What they care about in such cases is not OA, but fulfilling their funders’ (and institution’s) requirements.

    That’s why OA needs to be mandated.

    Most funders mandate only Gratis Green OA because it has fewer publisher constraints and fewer and shorter embargoes. But the advantage of mandating that the author’s version be made OA is that it makes it easier to give permission to re-use (the author’s version of) the figures and tables.

    If consensus can be successfully reached on mandating Libre OA rather than just Gratis OA, all the better. But on no account should there be a delay in adopting a Gratis OA mandate in order to hold out for Libre OA.

    Gold OA (whether Gratis or Libre) cannot be mandated, either by funders or institutions, and is hence not an issue. Funders and institutions cannot dictate researchers’ choice of journal; nor can they dictate publishers’ choice of cost-recovery model.

    PM-R: “Of the ones who care I have never met a case of a scientist – and I want to restrict the discussion to STM – who wishes to restrict the use of their material through licenses. No author says “You can look at my graph, but I am going to sue you if you reproduce it” (although some publishers, such as Wiley did in the Shelley Batts affair, and presumably still do).”

    The discussion of OA cannot be restricted to just STM, any more than it can be restricted to just Chemistry.

    Authors, mostly ignorant of OA as well as of rights and licenses, mostly haven’t given any of them much thought.

    But I can only repeat, even if they have not yet thought about it, many authors, including STP authors, would not relish giving everyone the right to publish mash-ups of their texts.

    Graphs and figures are a different story; authors are happy to have those re-used and re-published in re-mixes by others (with attribution), and, as noted, the fact that the Green Gratis OA version is the author’s final draft rather than the publisher’s proprietary version of record makes this much simpler. (For the graphs in their version-of-record, some publishers might conceivably think of suing for this; but authors certainly would never do it, for their Green Gratis OA versions. So that’s another point in favor of Green Gratis OA.)

    PM-R: “the OA movement … Cannot agree on what “open access” means in practice”

    They can agree, and they have agreed: http://www.earlham.edu/~peters/fos/newsletter/08-02-08.htm#gratis-libre

    PM-R: “the OA movement… Spends (directly or indirectly) large amounts of public money (certainly hundreds of millions of dollars in author-side fees) without changing the balance of the market

    The OA movement spends no public money. Perhaps you mean Gold OA journal authors?

    And the objective of the OA movement is not “changing the balance of the market.” Its objective is OA – Gratis, and, where needed, Libre.

    PM-R: “the OA movement… Has no clear intermediate or end-goals”

    The OA movement’s end-goal is Gratis OA (free online access) and, where needed, Libre OA (free online access plus re-use, re-mix re-publish rights).

    Where Libre OA is needed, Gratis OA is an intermediate goal.

    PM-R: “When I find an Open Source program, I know what I am getting. When I find an Open Access paper I haven’t a clue what I am getting”.

    You can be almost 100% sure that what you are getting is the peer-reviewed, final, accepted draft.

    And with that, researchers whose institution cannot afford access to the publisher’s version of record would be almost 100% better off than they are now.

    And that’s why the first priority is mandating Green Gratis OA self-archiving.

    (The disanalogies between Open Access and Open Source are too numerous to itemize.)

    PM-R: “When I publish my code as Open Source I can’t make up the rules. I must have a license and it must be approved by OSI”

    But OA is about peer-reviewed research, and there it is the refereed and editor that must approve the article.

    PM-R: “the OS community cares about what Open Source is, how it is defined, how it is labelled and whether the practice conforms to the requirements…. By contrast the OA community does not care about these things”.

    As stated earlier, the OA (advocacy) community knows what OA (Gratis and Libre, Green and Gold) and what their respective “requirements” are.

    It is not the OA advocates who don’t care enough about such things; it is, unfortunately, the researcher community: the ones who need to provide the OA content.

    And what’s missing isn’t a definition of OA, but OA.

    PM-R: ““Open Access” was defined in the Budapest and other declarations”.

    And the definition – not etched in stone but evolving – has been revised and updated: http://www.earlham.edu/~peters/fos/newsletter/08-02-08.htm#gratis-libre

    PM-R: “Everyone (including Stevan) would agree that this is now consistent with what is (belatedly) being labelled as OA-libre. Note that Stevan was a signatory to this definition of Open Access”.

    I signed and helped draft the first OA definition, but at that time I was not yet aware of nuances whose importance has since become apparent, requiring a revision of the definition.

    PM-R: “My immediate concern is that unless we organize the definition, labelling and practice of Open Access we are simply giving OA-opponents or OA-doubters carte blanche to do whatever they like without being brought to account. We are throwing away hundreds of millions of dollars in a wasteful fashion. We are exposing people to legal action because the terms are undefined”.

    I’m afraid I’m lost here: Who are “we”? OA advocates? What money are we throwing away? Perhaps you means authors and their funders, spending money on Gold OA that is Gratis rather than Libre? Well, I agree that’s a waste of money, but not because the OA’s Gratis but because Green OA needs to mandated before it makes sense to pay for Gold OA.

    PM-R: “If you try to re-use non-libre material because it was labelled “Open Access” you could still end up in court”.

    Highly unlikely (especially if you’re re-using graphics from the author’s draft rather than the publisher’s version-of-record).

    But if you have access to it at all, you’re already better off than those researchers who do not: And that’s the primary problem OA was defined and designed to fix.

    PM-R: “As a UK taxpayer I fund scientists to do medical research (through the MRC). The MRC has decided (rightly) that the results of scientific research should be made Open. But they are not Open according to the BOAI declaration”.

    They are Gratis OA (after an embargo period). Once all research is Gratis OA (and immediately upon acceptance for publication), Libre OA’s day will come.

    PM-R: “Individuals such as Stevan, Peter Suber, Alma Swan, [have] relatively little coordination and no bargaining power”

    True. But we did coordinate on the updating of the definition of OA. And EnablingOpenScholarship (EOS) will attempt to guide and coordinate the OA policy-making of universities and research instititions, worldwide.

    But OA advocates, individually and collectively, are not the ones with the power to provide OA: the ones with the power to provide it are researchers themselves. And the ones with the power to mandate that they provide it are their institutions and funders.

    PM-R: “So my simple proposal is that we need an Open Access Institute/initiative similar to the OSI for Open Source…. Stevan’s response will be: “let’s concentrate on getting all papers published as Green before we worry about anything else”. I don’t agree with this and I will explain more later”.

    Let’s publish our papers in whatever is the best journal for them, but let’s concentrate on persuading institutions and funders to mandate that we make them Green OA.

    I look forward to PM-R’s explanation of why he does not agree.

  12. I agree that there is need for an Open Access Institute/initiative. I suggested as much five years ago(http://poynder.blogspot.com/2006/03/where-is-open-access-foundation.html). Alas, it never happened.

    One reason I was given as to why it should not happen, by the way, was that any such organisation would quickly be dominated by OA publishers, who would use it as a platform to further their own interests/agenda, at the expense of researchers’ interests. No doubt there are ways around that, and Peter presumably assumes a researcher-led organisation here, but it is a point worth thinking about I think.

    • pm286 says:

      Many thanks Richard,
      I will mail you

    • Dear Richard,
      I wasn’t aware of the fact that you had suggested an open open access initiative already 5 years ago.
      In my reaction to the blog of peter I asked him and Peter Suber directly for input on the content and look of a coming OAFoundation website. I want to ask you the same in view of your knowledge and position in the Open Access movement Dr. Tom Olijhoek

  13. I was one of the Open Source Initiative’s co-founders and its first president. The confusion you guys are experiencing and the issues you’re debating are startlingly reminiscent of where we were in late 1997, early 1998. As the original poster noted, we got our act together. You can too.

    I endorse P-MR’s analysis and his conclusions. You need a parallel to our Open Source Definition – an Open Access Definition. And, yes, it cannot allow no-commercial-use restrictions.

    The reason for the this stance in the OSD wasn’t actually philosophical, it was brutally practical. The problem is that there is no bright-line definition of “commercial use”. Licenses with a no-commercial-use provision make it too difficult to reason about your rights are. Such uncertainty exerts a chilling effect on reuses which must be permitted if “openness” is to have any meaning.

    Some of you in this discussion seem ready to constitute yourselves as an Open Access Initiative and write an Open Access Definition. To which I say; do it! Audacity is required in these situations. :-)

    I’m willing to assist; I can help with drafting the definition, and I can explain lessons of experience from our community that I think will apply directly to the problems you face.

  14. [...] Mandating, Providing and Defining Open Access (Gratis and Libre) December 22nd, 2011 In “The Open Access Movement is disorganized; this must not continue,” Peter Murray-Rust [PM-R:] wrote: PM-R: “Stevan Harnad… argues inter alia that gratisOA [...]

Leave a Reply