What an amazing day for open access

February 23, 2013

Well, yesterday was insane.

In the morning, we had the UK House of Lords report on its inquiry into open access: fearful, compromised, regressive, and representing the latest stage in the inexorable defanging of RCUK’s policy.

I happened to be going out yesterday evening; when I left the house it had been the worst day for open access in recent memory. Then when I got back three hours later it was to the news the the US Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) had responded to the #OAMonday petition, issuing a memorandum that greatly increases access to US government-funded research.

So it’s one step back in the UK, two steps forward in America. With my nationalist hat on, it’s a shame to see Britain so cravenly abandon its position of leadership in the worldwide move to open access. But I can’t really care too much about that. Progress towards open access is not a zero-sum game: when America wins, we all win. And when we in the UK win — as we surely win — everyone will benefit from that, too.

I won’t go into details — there’s no need to, as Peter Suber has done a fantastically detailed job of explaining what the new policy does and doesn’t include, and how it resembles and differs from the still very important FASTR legislation. Get yourself over there are read up on the details.

Then crack open a bottle a wine and celebrate. This policy isn’t perfect, no, and there is still a lot of work to do. But it represents significant progress. O happy day.


9 Responses to “What an amazing day for open access”


    The new US OATP OA policy is a wonderful step forward for the entire planet, but let’s not just emulate it: let’s improve upon it.

    Here are some crucial improvements that will make a world of difference for UK and OA.

    (1) Specify that the deposit of the article must be in an institutional repository (so the universities and research institutions can monitor and ensure compliance as well as adopt mandates of their own).

    (2) Specify that the deposit must be done immediately upon publication.

    (3) Urge (but do not require) authors to make the immediate-deposit immediately-OA.

    (4) Urge (but do not require) authors to reserve the right to make their papers immediately-OA (and other re-use rights) in their contracts with their publishers (as in the Harvard-style mandates).

    (5) Shorten, or, better, do not mention allowable OA embargoes at all (so as not to encourage publishers to adopt them).

    (6) Implement the repositories’ automated “email sprint request” Button (for embargoed [non-OA] deposits).

    (7) Designate repository deposit as the sole mechanism for submitting publications for performance review, research assessment, grant application, or grant renewal.

    (8) Implement rich usage and citation metrics in the institutional repositories as incentive for compliance.

    If that is done universally, Global OA will soon be upon us — and a transition Fair-Gold OA, plus as much CC-BY and users need and authors wish to provide — will not be far behind.

  2. Mike Taylor Says:

    Thanks, Stevan. I agree with your points 2-6. I strongly disagree with #1 because my experience has been that large subject repositories (arXiv) are much more useful, reliable, accessible and discoverable than IRs. If I understand #7 correctly — that Gold OA should not be accepted, then I disagree with that as well (needless to say) but I hope I misunderstood you. Your #8 is obviously good when applied to all repositories, institutional and other.


    (#1) It is an illusion that Arxiv is more useful than institutional repositories. The only reason it is more useful is because far more papers have been deposited there over the past 20 years — by authors (mostly physicists) who, unlike most other authors, deposit spontaneously, unmandated.

    Arxiv (or any other central repository) would have identical functionality (hence usefulness) if it harvested from institutional repositories rather than being deposited into directly.

    But the difference is that institutions are the universal provider of all research, in all disciplines, funded and unfunded, and they are in the best position to ensure that Green OA self-archiving mandates are complied with.

    (#7) Of course all Gold OA articles can and should be deposited in their author’s Institutional Repository too!

    (#8) Yes, of course metrics should be gathered and displayed at both the institutional repository and harvester level.

  4. Brian Says:

    I know this open access is an important thing for science, but isn’t there an excessive excess of access to your open assessment of the extent of actual open access on this exclusive blog on extraordinary accessories of extinct excessively large animals ?

  5. Mike Taylor Says:

    I’m not sure what point you’re making, Brian. Are you saying we’re writing too much about open access?

  6. C. Pahl Says:

    You probably answered this in another post, but isn’t it possible for both sides to win? It seems obvious to me that prestigious journals could still make lots of money if they provided open access to primary articles… They could still publish books for consumers. Why don’t they do this already? I mean, I would gladly pay $40 for a “Best of JVP 2009” anthology at Barnes and Noble. I realize that not everyone at B&N can probably pick up a “Best of Cell” collection and understand all of it, but from a business perspective, I think that just provides another opportunity to make profit, because you can diversify your product even more. Why not make “Layman’s Anthology of Cell 2012”, and sell it in the Science section of Powell’s, or on Amazon? Something like this would also make primary, new research more available to the public, which would be very excellent, but it would also provide a profit avenue for journal publishing companies that would not necessitate the exorbitant fees we currently have… Access to articles could be free, while the collections of work, etc. would cost a little bit of money, like regular books. I mean, JK Rowling didn’t make her money by selling 3 copies of Harry Potter at $1,000,000,000 per book, she made it by selling a lot of books to a lot of people at reasonable prices. I see no reason this thinking can’t apply to scientific publishers as well.

  7. Matt Wedel Says:

    I know this open access is an important thing for science, but isn’t there an excessive excess of access to your open assessment of the extent of actual open access on this exclusive blog on extraordinary accessories of extinct excessively large animals?

    One order of “extraordinary accessories of extinct excessively large animals” coming right up!

  8. […] sure we all remember the White House OSTP’s recent memo on open access — a huge step forward that extends an NIH-like Green OA policy to all US federally funded […]

  9. […] is the NSF’s rather belated response to the OSTP memo on Open Access, back in January 2013. This memo required all Federal agencies that spend $100 million in […]

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