The benefits and limitations of Green Open Access

In a reply to my exposition of Green, Gold, Gratis and Libre, Steve Hitchcock comments:

 

Steve Hitchcock says:

July 20, 2011 at 5:03 pm  

Peter, In this blog post you say "Modern e-science requires documents over which the reader/user has rights of re-use, which is why Green self-archiving is of little value to high-volume information analysts." In your next post on the Aaron Swartz/JSTOR case you arrive at a concluding point: "I am concerned that academic institutions will continue to develop their role as "police for publishers" rather than pressuring for democratic and legal change in the system." What institutional change do you have in mind? In this context one is to provide, and mandate the use of, 'green' open access institutional repositories, but you appear to rule this out. Institutions can influence what their researchers and authors do more directly than they can act for 'democratic and legal change'. I know from reading your posts and mails over many years that you prefer the libre OA approach above others, but you seem unsure who should take the lead on this, publishers or institutions. The one you choose will determine the starting point: green gratis OA (which institutions can provide), or libre OA (which institutions cannot provide for journal published content).

Steve is from Southampton, which is one of the shining examples of how to manage scholarship on a University-wide scale – with deposition mandates, clear IT infrastructure, etc. Researchers probably get more implicit and explicit support for self-archiving than almost anywhere else.

Green OA has the following advantages over Gold OA (I am assuming we compare gratis with gratis and libre with libre). (I am not including hybrid Gold in this – operationally it has almost no benefit over Green)

  • It costs no cash and the effort (particularly with a system like Soton's Eprints with Chris Gutteridge to help) is fairly small

I cannot immediate think of any other universal advantages – I will add them as I go along and as they are pointed out

The following advantage(s) are common to both Gold and Green

  • They get indexed by search engines such as Google and Bing. I am not aware of any independent academic archive of Green OA or Gold OA. In fact I have a suggestion for doing exactly that which I will put in a later blog. I do not regard deposition in an IR as making Open content more discoverable than on a publisher's web site – I suspect they are roughly equivalent – Bingle will index both.

The following are the advantages of Gold:

  • The licence is clear, both on the document itself and in the context. (Green OA almost never confers any rights explicitly, and the context may well not include rights
  • The documents may be systematically discovered by iterating through the publisher's tables of contents. This is VERY important, perhaps the most striking advantage of Gold (whether gratis or libre). I can for example download all BMC content whenever I wish , subject only to the courtesy of agreeing a robot-friendly protocol when I want. Can I systematically download all Green material from the 100 UK repositories? I doubt it (a) how do I discover it? (b) when I have discovered it how does my machine know the rights?
  • With Gold It is almost always possible to know whether the content is libre. It is almost impossible to determine the gratis/libre on Green. I am therefore assuming that there are very few Green documents where I can trivially determine that they are libre

The advantages of libre are enormous. I am assuming a high correlation between Gold = libre and Green = gratis. Effectively only Gold gives me a significant amount of libre. The advantages:

  • I can copy and reproduce some or all of the content
  • I can rework the text into book chapters
  • I can include the diagrams as slides
  • I can compute the tables in R or other statistic programs
  • I can extract the chemistry (yes we can extract the chemistry automatically).
  • I can use the material as a corpus for developing textmining
  • I can use the corpus to extract information
  • I can use the corpus to compare documents, including detection of plagiarism
  • I can make my own overlay journal (and we are doing exactly that with Acta Crystallographica E)
  • I can create resources on the web of Linked Open Data
  • I can create Open Research Reports for diseases (OKF/JISC hackathon in December)

And much more.

A caution. Some Greenophiles such as Stevan Harnad have told me I can do all this with Green material. I believe that in every case I would be breaking contract and/or copyright law. If anyone can convince me that almost all Green carries implicit rights to do this I would change my view. But I am very sceptical.

Gold Open Access has one major limitation:

  • It normally costs a considerable amount of money.

SteveH says:

green gratis OA (which institutions can provide),

This is not correct. The providers of the permission for Green gratis are the publishers. Some publishers such as the American ******** Society have been solidly set against Green Open Access of any sort. The instituions cannot provide Green. They can help authors find out WHETHER they have a right to self-archive as Green and they can – perhaps – lobby publishers to persuade them to allow Green SA. They can provide the technology to do it and they can provide implicit and explicit support. But they cannot provide it absolutely.

I need tens of thousands of articles. I need to know I am legally and contractually able to obtain and re-use them. If SteveH or anyone else can show how this can be done with Green articles in Repositories I'd be grateful.

As a touchstone it is impossible even to get all the UK theses published last year. Impossible to determine their rights. Impossible to know how to write a universal downloader. That's much the same with Green, which need n ot even be in IRs.

Please – anyone – adjust this analysis.

 

 

 

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14 Responses to The benefits and limitations of Green Open Access

  1. bill says:

    Some Greenophiles such as Stevan Harnad have told me I can do all this with Green material. I believe that in every case I would be breaking contract and/or copyright law.

    Peter Suber has pointed out that this lack of clarity is functionally equivalent to an outright ban, because anyone who wishes to (or by virtue of their position must) remain inside the law will choose NOT to copy, mine, etc etc in order not to risk IP trespass.

  2. THE PRACTICAL ADVANTAGES OF GRASPING GRATIS GREEN OA BEFORE TRYING TO REACH LIBRE GOLD OA

    Peter, you missed the main advantages of Gratis Green OA (GrGrOA):

    -- (1) Immediate GrGrOA has far smaller obstacles, being already endorsed by over 60% of journals (including almost all the top journals).

    -- (2) Hence GrGrOA can already provide at least 60% GrGrOA plus 40% almost-OA (with the repository's automated email-eprint-request button) today.

    -- (3) Hence immediate 60% GrGrOA plus 40% almost-OA can already be mandated.

    This contrasts with Libre Gold OA (LiGoOA):

    -- (1) LiGoOA is not yet endorsed by any journal other than the small proportion of LiGoOA that already exist (say, about 10%, and that does not include most of the top journals).

    -- (2) Hence LiGoOA can only provide 10% LiGoOA today.

    -- (3) LiGoOA cannot be mandated (today, or ever).

    All the LiGoOA advantages you seek will come, but before we reach LiGoOA we have to reach GrGrOA, and we won't reach it by over-reaching: GrGrOA will simply inherit LiGoOA's bigger obstacles.

    (And what I said came with the territory with GrGrOA is searching, downloading locally, reading, saving locally, data-crunching, printing off; that's all. But it's incomparably more than what we have not, without GrGrOA.)

    Stevan Harnad
    EnablingOpenScholarship
    http://www.openscholarship.org

    • pm286 says:

      Thanks Stevan,

      >>– (1) Immediate GrGrOA has far smaller obstacles, being already endorsed by over 60% of journals (including almost all the top journals).

      There is a difference between the size of an obstacle and the number of obstacles. I agree that there is quantitiatively more opportunity for self-archiving than LiGo.

      – (2) Hence GrGrOA can already provide at least 60% GrGrOA plus 40% almost-OA (with the repository’s automated email-eprint-request button) today.

      – (3) Hence immediate 60% GrGrOA plus 40% almost-OA can already be mandated.

      This sums to 100% I do not understand the phrase "almost-OA". Do you regard the articles in (say) J. Am. Chem. Soc as "almost-OA"? Because I have a different view.

      This contrasts with Libre Gold OA (LiGoOA):

      – (1) LiGoOA is not yet endorsed by any journal other than the small proportion of LiGoOA that already exist (say, about 10%, and that does not include most of the top journals).

      I am sorry that you class journals such as the one I am on the editorial board of (J. Cheminformatics) as in some way inferior. It may not have such a high impact factor, but I denounce the impact factor.

      – (2) Hence LiGoOA can only provide 10% LiGoOA today.

      Correct. And before PLoSONE and BMC the figure was much smaller. This figure is growing

      – (3) LiGoOA cannot be mandated (today, or ever).

      You assert opinions as axioms and if so I am afraid I cannot therefore discuss this without challenging the axioms.

      >>All the LiGoOA advantages you seek will come, but before we reach LiGoOA we have to reach GrGrOA, and we won’t reach it by over-reaching: GrGrOA will simply inherit LiGoOA’s bigger obstacles.

      Another axiom

      >>(And what I said came with the territory with GrGrOA is searching, downloading locally, reading, saving locally, data-crunching, printing off; that’s all. But it’s incomparably more than what we have not, without GrGrOA.)

      You and I differ as to what is formally allowable.

      Best

      • NO AXIOMS: JUST EVIDENCE, LOGIC & PRAGMATICS:

        PMR: "There is a difference between the size of an obstacle and the number of obstacles. I agree that there is quantitatively more opportunity for self-archiving than LiGo."

        sh: And for mandating 100% of it. And that's what OA is about: Reaching 100% OA, at long last.

        PMR: "I do not understand the phrase “almost-OA”."

        sh: Articles deposited as Closed Access but semi-automatically requestable via the repository's email eprint request Button.

        Sale, A., Couture, M., Rodrigues, E., Carr, L. and Harnad, S. (2010) Open Access Mandates and the "Fair Dealing" Button. In: Dynamic Fair Dealing: Creating Canadian Culture Online (Rosemary J. Coombe & Darren Wershler, Eds.) http://eprints.ecs.soton.ac.uk/18511/

        PMR: "This figure [% Gold OA] is growing"

        sh: But not fast enough. And unlike Green, cannot be accelerated with mandates.

        Poynder, Richard (2011) Open Access by Numbers, Open and Shut, 19 June 2011 http://poynder.blogspot.com/2011/06/open-access-by-numbers.html

        PMR: "You assert opinions ['LiGoOA cannot be mandated'] as axioms and if so I am afraid I cannot therefore discuss this without challenging the axioms."

        sh: Please describe how (and who) you propose to mandate (i.e. require) LiGoOA, that is, require authors to publish in Libre Gold OA Journals.

        PMR: "Another axiom ['before we reach LiGoOA we have to reach GrGrOA, and we won’t reach it by over-reaching: GrGrOA will simply inherit LiGoOA’s bigger obstacles']"

        sh: Please describe how you propose to persuade authors who are not even providing GrGrOA to their articles, published in their journals of choice, for free, to pay instead to publish them in LiGoOA journals. (And then describe how you propose to mandate it, if they demur.)

        PMR: "You and I differ as to what is formally allowable [with GrGrOA]"

        sh: If it's not "searching, downloading locally, reading, saving locally, data-crunching, printing off" as I said, then what *is* formally allowable with GrGrOA, by your lights?

        Chrs, S

  3. Steve Hitchcock says:

    Peter, One advantage of green over gold open access that you don't mention: there is already a lot more of it, and it can potentially grow much faster still. You note without comment one limitation of gold OA: It normally costs a considerable amount of money. You might want to comment on whether what follows from this and a switch to gold OA will cause an author crisis (the mirror of the 'library crisis') when, without green OA in your approach, fewer authors are able to publish for lack of funds.

    On your correction re. institutions providing green gratis open access, I was of course assuming the case where a publisher allows green OA, which the majority do, but not all as you say. My point was that for OA content, where by definition there is another rights-holder involved such as a publisher, neither the institution nor author can unilaterally change the rights in the case of gratis to libre.

    You did not seem to address my question about what you want institutions to do to change the system.

    Growing open access is about making choices, about objectives and strategies. Too much of the debate on OA is about wants and wishes and simply isn't clear on objectives or strategic enough. I think that fits your analysis here, unless I have missed your objective or strategy. Alternatively, if we start with an objective of 100% OA, for example, it becomes clearer we need to start by backing green OA, which has a clear strategy even though not enough institutions have yet implemented it as effectively as the best. Ultimately we want the same thing, but it's how we get there, and how quickly we get there, that really matters.

    • pm286 says:

      >>>Peter, One advantage of green over gold open access that you don’t mention: there is already a lot more of it, and it can potentially grow much faster still.

      I don't see why the amount of something alters the rate of growth

      >>You note without comment one limitation of gold OA: It normally costs a considerable amount of money. You might want to comment on whether what follows from this and a switch to gold OA will cause an author crisis (the mirror of the ‘library crisis’) when, without green OA in your approach, fewer authors are able to publish for lack of funds.

      OTOH Libre costs the reader nothing. Yes, we have a prisoner's dilemma, or a transition process. I would argue that the final state of ull Libre will cost less than the current toll-access. But we are in the land of opinions, not logic.

      >>You did not seem to address my question about what you want institutions to do to change the system.

      No - I wanted to keep things separate. I would urge:
      * funders to insist on Libre content
      * authors to insist on financial support from either funders or their institutions
      * libraries cancelling as many toll-journals as possible
      * development of new and imaginative and lower-cost ways of publishing

      This seems reasonable to me, it may seem unreasonable to others. That's politics

      >>Growing open access is about making choices, about objectives and strategies. Too much of the debate on OA is about wants and wishes and simply isn’t clear on objectives or strategic enough. I think that fits your analysis here, unless I have missed your objective or strategy.

      I have given them above. I have never formally voiced them in bullet points, but I have written in a way consistent with them

      >>Alternatively, if we start with an objective of 100% OA, for example, it becomes clearer we need to start by backing green OA, which has a clear strategy even though not enough institutions have yet implemented it as effectively as the best. Ultimately we want the same thing, but it’s how we get there, and how quickly we get there, that really matters.

      Stevan has asserted this as an axiom for 10 years. I don't agree. And as important, Gratis OA is no use to me, while continuing to legitimise the ownership of material inappropriately

      • PRIORITIES AND PRAGMATICS

        PMR: "I don’t see why the amount of something alters the rate of growth"

        sha: It doesn't. It's just that the rate of growth of Gold OA is way too slow. The current growth rate will not even reach 60% Gold OA before 2026, whereas Green OA mandates have been reaching 60% Green OA within two years of adoption for years now:

        Poynder, Richard (2011) Open Access by Numbers, Open and Shut, 19 June 2011 http://poynder.blogspot.com/2011/06/open-access-by-numbers.html

        PMR: "Libre costs the reader nothing. Yes, we have a prisoner’s dilemma, or a transition process. I would argue that the final state of full Libre will cost less than the current toll-access. But we are in the land of opinions, not logic."

        sha: It is the author who pays for Gold OA, not the reader. And it is the author who provides Gold OA, not the reader. So it is not a Prisoner's Dilemma but an Escher Impossible Figure. Green OA mandates can cure the paralysis for Gratis Green OA, and this is a matter of evidence and logic, not opinion. What's your alternative, for curing paralysis for Libre Gold OA?

        PMR: "I would urge funders to insist on Libre content"

        sha: Good luck. But reality is that most funders don't even insist on Gratis content yet. Might it not be better to start to try to succeed in urging them to insist on *at least* that, first?

        PMR: "authors to insist on financial support from either funders or their institutions"

        sha: If authors want, and can provide Gratis Green OA for free (and don't even bother to do it until/unless mandated), what leverage do they have with their funders (when research funds are already scarce) or with their institutions (whose spare funds are locked into subscriptions) -- even if authors bother to insist at all on what they don't even bother to do themselves for free?

        PMR: "libraries cancelling as many toll-journals as possible"

        sha: Libraries are already cancelling as many toll journals as possible, but they can't cancel the must-have ones until/unless their institutional users can get access to their contents some other way. That's the Escher Impossible Figure (not a Prisoner's Dilemma). And what will resolve it is mandating Green OA, which, once Green OA is universal, allows the libraries to cancel their subscriptions, releasing the institutional windfall savings to pay for a universal conversion to Gold (and Libre!) OA.

        PMR: "development of new and imaginative and lower-cost ways of publishing"

        sha: Gold OA publishing -- once all access-provision and archiving (and their costs) have been offloaded onto the worldwide network of Green OA institutional repositories -- will already reduce the cost of publishing to just the cost of peer review. All it takes to see this is a little imagination (but for that, you have to be able to defer immediate gratification on Libre OA!).

        PMR: "Stevan has asserted ['if we start with an objective of 100% OA… we need to start by backing green OA, which has a clear strategy…. Ultimately we want the same thing, but it’s how we get there, and how quickly… that really matters'] as an axiom for 10 years. I don’t agree. And as important, Gratis OA is no use to me, while continuing to legitimise the ownership of material inappropriately"

        sha: But perhaps you'll allow that Gratis OA may be of use to many other would-be users, in many fields -- and that the fields for which Libre OA is less urgent may be far fewer…

        Chrs, sha

  4. The people responsible for the relevant OA definitions BBB have clearly voted for libre OA. That's all what counts. For me Harnad is annoying pest for the OA movement.

    • The BBB definition was drafted in 2002; the G/L update was drafted in 2008. I am not aware of any "vote." But if the number of documents that have since been made Gratis OA vs Libre OA, or their annual growth rates constitute "voting" then there is a G/L majority of at least 10/1. (With cheery greetings to the unswervingly well-bred and well-informed conscience and guide of the OA movement, from the pest of the OA movement!)

    • pm286 says:

      Please don't become personal. Stevan and I agree on some things and not on others (and I think we never will - it is like the difference between capitalists and socialists - they have different political axioms). Stevan has made great contributions the the OA movement. We differ on tactics and probably always will.

      • POLITENESS, PRAGMATICS AND PRIORITIES

        Thanks, Peter, for your welcome vote for civility!

        I don't think we differ on axioms. We both seek the same things. We differ only on pragmatics, and hence on priorities. The essence of the difference is very simple: I keep urging that we should first grasp what is already fully within reach (Gratis Green OA), rather than over-reaching for what is not within reach (Libre Gold OA) and thereby continuing to get almost no OA at all.

        I value Libre OA as highly as you do, and for the very reasons and purposes you enunciate so well. But I think the evidence suggests that trying to attain Libre OA (or Gold OA) directly simply doesn't scale, whereas once Green Gratis OA mandates scale universally, Libre and Gold OA will follow soon thereafter, like dominoes cascading.

        (I do not want to pretend, though, that patience is one of my virtues! Two frustrating decades of waiting in vain for even "reachable" Green Gratis OA has largely obliterated whatever trace quantities of that virtue this weary archivangelist might once have possessed…)

        • pm286 says:

          >>>(I do not want to pretend, though, that patience is one of my virtues! Two frustrating decades of waiting in vain for even “reachable” Green Gratis OA has largely obliterated whatever trace quantities of that virtue this weary archivangelist might once have possessed…)

          It seems that things progress on the level of decades where academics are concerned. Academia can fail to tackle problems for years. I have the same frustration with the scientific web (and chemistry in particular). Almost no one is interested in changing the model to a collaborative one. Meanwhile the people who need drugs are doing it independently of the western academic model.

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