Dear Wiley: please use Creative Commons Attribution for your open-access activities
July 3, 2012
I sent this letter to Wiley today, in response to their announcement of elective open access being available in 81% of their journals. I will blog the response when it comes (or the lack of one if they don’t reply after a reasonable time).
Date: Tue, 3 Jul 2012 11:22:55 +0100
From: Mike Taylor <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: New Open Access option on 81% of journals
I am writing to express my thanks and congratulations on extending your elective open-access policy to 81% of your journals, as announced in yesterday’s press-release.
Wiley is an important publisher and the guardian of many significant journals. Given the increasing inevitability of open access, as noted in recent months by US congressmen, UK government ministers, and numerous academics and publishers, it’s going to be crucial to avoid becoming marginalised during the transition. In concert with your existing all-open-access journals, and your Free Backfiles provision, yesterday’s announcement goes a long way to assuring the community that Wiley will be around to be part of the transformed landscape.
I do have an important reservation, though. When I checked the specific details of what Wiley means by “open access” I saw to my dismay that instead of using the standard Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) licence, Wiley has rolled its own set of terms and conditions which, in addition to being more restrictive than the standard ones, will not be immediately recognised and comprehended by potential authors.
As you probably know, the CC BY licence unambiguously fulfils all the terms of the original definition of “open access”, as specified in 2001 by the Budapest Open Access Initiative. It is for this reason that it has been overwhelmingly adopted by for-profit and non-profit open-access publishers, including BioMed Central, PLoS and Hindawi. I assume this is also why it was recently adopted by Springer for its own elective open-access programme (“Open Choice”). For a fuller discussion of the merits of fully BOAI-compliant open access, please see the article Why Full Open Access Matters.
The unfortunate upshot is that, as things currently stand, Wiley’s elective open-access programme stands alongside Elsevier’s derided “sponsored article” scheme, rather than having joined the true open-access advocates BMC and PLoS, as Springer’s Open Choice has done. This makes Springer journals currently a much more attractive open-access choice than Wiley’s. At a time when lines are being drawn, and when Elsevier in particular is widely seen in a very negative light, it’s important to establish which side of this divide Wiley is going to position itself on.
So I strongly urge Wiley, with all possible haste, to adopt the Creative Commons Attribute licence for all its open-access activities. In doing so, you will send out a strong statement. I am confident that the commercial benefits will greatly outweigh the loss of whatever minor revenue accrues from the licenced commercial re-use of not-quite-open-access articles under the current scheme.
I hope this is helpful; if desired, I will be more than happy to discuss these issues in more detail with with anyone at Wiley.
Dr. Michael P. Taylor
Department of Earth Sciences
University of Bristol
Bristol BS8 1RJ
P.S. This is an open letter; I will be posting it on my blog, along with your reply. It’s important that the wider community see and understand what decisions are being made as publishers transition to open access.
Update 1 (Wed 4 Jul 2012 17:38:31 BST)
Received a brief response from Wiley’s Director of OA via LinkedIn:
Many thanks for the congratulations and for the helpful comments on your blog. We are well aware of the policies of our competitors and review appropriate licensing arrangements regularly. I’ll be out of the office 6-23 July, but otherwise happy to talk further.
Vice President and Director, Open Access
Update 2 (Thu Jul 5 09:57:01 BST 2012)
Another, independent response, from Wiley’s STM publicity manager:
Thank you for your timely note. We are considering our options for open access licensing arrangements at the moment, so it’s useful to hear the views of the wider community.
Global Publicity Manager
Scientific, Technical, Medical, and Scholarly
Again, noncommittally encouraging. We’ll see what comes of this.