Some test cases for strongOA/weakOA

I am still – honestly – completely unable to work out what the proposed boundary between strongOA and weakOA (see copious blog posts recently) . I therefore put forward some testcases and ask those who understand it – especially the proponents – what category they fall into:

  • CC-BY
  • CC-NC
  • Springer Open Choice from the site:Springer operates a program called Springer Open Choice. It offers authors to have their journal articles made available with full open access in exchange for payment of a basic fee (‘article processing charge’).
    With Springer Open Choice the authors decide how their articles are published in the leading and well respected journals that Springer publishes. Springer continues to offer the traditional publishing model, but for the growing number of researchers who want open access, Springer journals offer the option to have articles made available with open access, free to anyone, any time, and anywhere in the world. If authors choose open access in the Springer Open Choice program, they will not be required to transfer their copyright to Springer, either.
  • ACS Author Choice ; from the site: ACS AuthorChoice facilitates unrestricted web access to your published ACS article—at the time of publication—for a one–time fixed payment, provided by you or your funding agency. Contributing authors who are ACS members and/or are affiliated with an ACS subscribing institution receive significant discounts. This policy also allows you to post copies of published articles on your personal website and institutional repositories for non–commercial scholarly purposes.
  • The NIH Public Access Policy [which] ensures that the public has access to the published results of NIH funded research. It requires scientists to submit journal articles that arise from NIH funds to the digital archive PubMed Central ( The Policy requires that these articles be accessible to the public on PubMed Central to help advance science and improve human health.
  • Green self-archival of a final author manuscript  in toll-access journal with copyright transferred to publisher
  • articles published describing work currently funded by the Wellcome trust

The following terms have been proposed as synonymous with strongOA:
transparent and self-explanatory (Harnad):
PMR: I am particularly worried about the use of “FULL-OA” for anything that isn’t.
To recap – I now have no idea what the boundaryline is. I hope some testcases will make it clearer. Because everyone except me seems to agree the line is clear but I suspect they will all put it at different places.

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2 Responses to Some test cases for strongOA/weakOA

  1. Klaus Graf says:

    Harnad/Suber call “strong” all what exceeds fair use. Weak is cost-free only (given national copyright restrictions), strong is if not all rights are reserved.
    Here are some samples what they mean with strong:
    (i) Strong is if an author has the right to put his article on his homepage or in a repository. This means that no third-party re-use is allowed.
    (ii) Strong is if class-room/educational use is allowed (publisher will not sue the university, see the recent Georgia State University case).
    (iii) Strong is all what has a CC license (or a compatible license) allowing non-commercial third-party use or non-derivative use.
    For me that’s a betrayal of the BBB definition of OA.
    We need at least three categories of OA.
    (1) Full OA = BBB OA = CC-BY = SPARC OA Seal
    (2) Permission reduced OA with third-party rights – case (iii) above
    (3) Cost-free OA, including OA whith author’s self-archive permission and educational use – case (i)

  2. B.C.Kaemper says:

    This seems to be a reasonable set of categories. It has the advantage that it does not have any pejorative connotations associated with the labels, but neither does it hide the important differences between full OA and permission reduced OA (which is completely hidden, if you call both strong). Even though as a question of principle it is not clear why allowing educational use (w/o other third party use) should be included in (3) and not together with non-commercial third party use in general under (2), I believe that Klaus Graf got it right. In practice probably no one would disallow unrestricted class room/educational use, even if non-commercial third-party use in general were not included. It seems unwarranted to group the few who would care to explicitely state educational use rights into the next higher group, and doing so would only blur the rather clear distinction between the three categories.
    I am also glad that SPARC has already introduced its OA seal, and that the seal is given only for Full OA in the sense of BBB. The SPARC seal, in my view, is more important than the Suber/Harnad agreement, because of its strong organisational support.

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