Publishers to Researchers: "Want OA? OK, but only on our terms, and timetable!"

Stevan Harnad amsciforum at GMAIL.COM
Sun Nov 17 06:43:42 EST 2013

Re: The Journal Publisher Lobby in the UK & Netherlands: Part

On Sun, Nov 17, 2013 at 3:32 AM, Tom Olijhoek <tom.olijhoek at>wrote:

what would be wrong with all publishers adopting open access, financing
> their businesses with money that is freed because of canceled subscriptions?

Nothing wrong -- *after* Green OA has been mandated globally, has caused
subscriptions to be canceled, and has driven down the price of Gold OA from
today's over-priced, double-paid Fool's Gold to affordable, sustainable
Fair Gold.

Everything wrong -- *before* Green OA has been mandated globally, while
publishers instead try to force Fool's Gold to be paid for OA by embargoing
Green OA and lobbying against Green OA mandates, in order to make sure they
control the terms and timetable for any transition, locking in their
current levels of revenue come what may.

Plans by universities and research funders to pay the costs of Open Access
Publishing ("Gold OA") are premature.

Funds are short; 80% of journals (including virtually all the top journals)
are still subscription-based, tying up the potential funds to pay for Gold
OA; the asking price for Gold OA is still arbitrarily high ("Fool's Gold");
and there is concern that paying to publish may inflate acceptance rates
and lower quality standards.

What is needed now is for universities and funders to mandate OA
self-archiving (of authors' final peer-reviewed drafts, immediately upon
acceptance for publication) ("Green OA").

That will provide immediate OA; and if and when universal Green OA should
go on to make subscriptions unsustainable (because users are satisfied with
just the Green OA versions) that will in turn induce journals to cut
obsolete post-Green costs (print edition, online edition, access-provision,
archiving -- all offloaded onto the global network of Green OA
institutional repositories), downsize to just providing the service of peer
review, and convert to the Gold OA cost-recovery model ("Fair Gold").

Meanwhile, the subscription cancellations will have released the funds to
pay these residual service costs.

The natural way to charge for the service of peer review then will be on a
"no-fault basis," with the author's institution or funder paying for each
round of refereeing, regardless of outcome (acceptance,
revision/re-refereeing, or rejection).

This will minimize cost while protecting against inflated acceptance rates
and decline in quality standards.

--- Harnad, S. (2010) No-Fault Peer Review Charges: The Price of
Selectivity Need Not Be Access Denied or
D-Lib Magazine 16 (7/8)

> I think we should fight the risk of publishers taking open access as a
> means to increase their incomes by adamantly refusing to accept any
> embargoes, not for journals and not for repositories. That is the big
> mistake that was made ,allowing these embargo periods in the first place.

Easy to say; hard to get researchers to do (because they fear that their
journals will not accept their articles, or will take legal action against

The fears are ungrounded (physicists have been doing it in Arxiv,
unchallenged, since 1991, and computer scientists, in FTP archives, even

But simply saying to researchers "we
has proved ineffective for 20 years now.

And that is why research institutions and funders worldwide have now
begun mandating
<>that their researchers must provide Green OA.

And those Green OA mandates are precisely what (some) publishers are now
working feverishly to try to stop, by embargoing Green OA and lobbying
governments to mandate (Fool's) Gold OA instead.

And with the UK and the Netherlands governments (only), the publishing
lobby has made some recent headway.

The remedy is available, however, and the worldwide OA movement will make
sure it is made known and used:

(a) Research funders and institutions worldwide all adopt an immediate-deposit
requiring, as a condition of funding, employment and evaluation, that all
researchers deposit their final, peer-reviewed drafts in their
institutional repositories immediately upon acceptance for publication,
regardless of whether they are published in a subscription journal or a
Gold OA journal -- and regardless of whether access to the deposit is made
Green OA immediately or only after a publisher embargo.

(b) Do not mandate or designate any extra money to pay for Gold OA: let
that come from the subscription cancellation savings -- if and when Green
OA actually releases institutions to cancel

(c) To tide over research access needs during any embargo, make sure to
implement the institutional repository's automated copy-request
Button<> so
that any user can request -- and any author can provide -- a single copy
for research purposes with just one click each.

*Stevan Harnad*
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