A role for metrics in the US Federal OA system design

David Wojick dwojick at CRAIGELLACHIE.US
Tue Jul 23 11:58:25 EDT 2013

While we are on this topic I want to point out the potential major role for 
metrics in the US Federal OA system design. The design guidance says the 
agencies may provide different embargo periods for different disciplines, 
other than the 12 month default period. In documents submitted at the one 
hearing held so far some publishers and OA advocates have already suggested 
other embargo periods, ranging from 6 to 24 months. But deciding these 
issues will require some sort of analytical framework and this is where 
metrics may play a big role.

Here is how I put it in my first article on the Federal guidance, calling 
it a monster challenge (emphasis added):

"The third monster is the multiplicity of disciplines. The OSTP memorandum 
explicitly provides for having different embargo periods for different 
disciplines. This is because there is evidence that the journals in these 
disciplines are financially sensitive to the embargo period in different ways.

Having discipline-specific embargo periods is an intriguing prospect, but 
it will not be easy to develop. To begin with, there is again the challenge 
of multiple agencies. Because the government is organized by mission, not 
by scientific discipline, most disciplines are funded by a number of 
different agencies. Almost everyone does some economics, computer science, 
biology, chemistry, and physics, for example. This raises the prospect that 
different agencies might have different embargo periods for the same 

Then there is the challenge of formally identifying the discipline of every 
journal article. The British do it based on the sponsor because their 
sponsoring organizations are discipline-specific. US federal sponsors are 
not discipline-specific except perhaps at the program level. Going to that 
level would be a very complex process indeed. Then, too, there are various 
discipline categorization schemes available in the bibliographic and 
science studies world that might be useful, but one would have to be 
selected, made official, and properly applied. And, of course, different 
agencies might choose different schemes.

But the real challenge will be deciding on the proper embargo periods for 
each discipline once these are defined. There are presently no analytical 
or administrative procedures for doing this that I know of. There is a joke 
that every government official has three boxes on their desk ­ In, Out, and 
Too Hard. Deciding on discipline-specific embargo periods may be too hard. 
If not, then the agencies and the discipline-specific societies need to 
really jump on this challenge because there is a lot of work to do."


I am very interested to hear any idea on how to meet this challenge.

David Wojick
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