The Open Access Interviews: Paul Royster, Coordinator of Scholarly Communications, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Stevan Harnad amsciforum at GMAIL.COM
Tue Sep 2 12:19:41 EDT 2014

*What OA Needs Is More Action, Not More Definition*

For the record: I renounce (and have long renounced) the original 2002 BOAI
(and BBB) definition of Open Access
<>(OA) (even though I was
one of the original co-drafters and co-signers of BOAI) in favour of its 2008
revision *(sic)* as Gratis OA (free online access) and Libre OA
<> (free
online access plus certain re-use rights, e.g., CC-BY).

The original BOAI definition was improvised. Over a decade of subsequent
evidence, experience and reflection have now made it clear that this first
approximation in 2002 was needlessly over-reaching and (insofar as Green OA
self-archiving was concerned) incoherent (except if we were prepared to
declare almost all Green OA — which was and still is by far the largest and
most reachable body of OA — as not being OA!). The original BOAI/BBB
definition has since also become an obstacle to the growth of (Green,
Gratis) OA as well as a point of counterproductive schism and formalism in
the OA movement that have not been to the benefit of OA (but to the benefit
of the opponents of OA, or to the publishers that want to ensure -- via
Green OA embargoes -- that the only path to OA should be one that preserves
their current revenue streams: Fool's Gold OA

I would like to agree with Richard Poynder that OA needs some sort of
"authoritative" organization -- but of whom should that authoritative
organization consist? My inclination is that it should be the providers and
users of the OA research itself, namely peer-reviewed journal article
authors, their institutions and their funders. Their “definition” of OA
would certainly be authoritative.

Let me close by emphasizing that I too see Libre OA as desirable and
inevitable. But my belief (and it has plenty of supporting evidence) is
that the only way to get to Libre OA is for all institutions and funders to
mandate (and provide) Gratis Green OA first — not to quibble or squabble
about the BOAI/BBB “definition” of OA, or their favorite flavours of Libre
OA licenses.

My only difference with Paul Royster is that the primary target for OA is
peer-reviewed journal articles, and for that it is not just repositories
that are needed, but Green OA mandates from authors’ institutions and

*P.S. *To forestall yet another round of definitional wrangling: Even an
effective Gratis Green OA mandate requires some compromises, namely, if
authors elect to comply with a publisher embargo on Green OA, they need
merely deposit the final, refereed, revised draft in their institutional
repository immediately upon acceptance for publication -- and set the
access as "restricted access" instead of OA during the (allowable) embargo.
The repository's automated email copy-request Button
<> will
allow any user to request and any author to provide a single copy for
research purposes during the embargo with one click each. (We call this
compromise "Almost-OA." It is a workaround for the 40% of journals that
embargo Gratis Green OA; and this too is a necessary first step on the road
to 100% immediate Green Gratis OA and onward. I hope no one will now call
for a formal definition of "Almost-OA" before we can take action on
mandating OA...)

On Mon, Sep 1, 2014 at 12:52 PM, Stevan Harnad <harnad at>

> On Sep 1, 2014, at 11:19 AM, Stephen Downes <stephen at DOWNES.CA> wrote:
> Some really important discussion here. In particular, I would argue (with
> this article) that  the insistence on CC-by (which allows commercial reuse)
> comes not from actual proponents of open access, but by commercial
> publishers promoting their own interests.
> Actually, it’s much more complicated than that. Journal publishers (both
> commercial and learned-society) have conflicts of interest with Green OA --
> both Gratis (free for all online) and Libre (free for all online *plus*
> re-use rights, especially commercial re-use rights).
> And, on top of that, there are impatient researchers militating
> uncompromisingly for Libre OA in certain fields that would especially
> benefit from Libre OA re-use rights.
> And there are the Gold OA publishers that want to promote their product by
> lionizing the benefits of Libre OA and deprecating Gratis OA, whether from
> author self-archiving (Gratis Green) or rival Gold OA  and hybrid
> publishers (Gratis Gold).
> And often, alas, the library community, including SPARC, does not
> understand either, and needlessly complicates things wtill further.
> Let me simplify: Libre OA (free for all online *plus* re-use rights) is
> Gratis OA (free for all online) PLUS re-use rights. Libre OA asks for MORE
> than Gratis OA. Hence Libre OA faces far more obstacles than Gratis OA.
> *Yet we are nowhere near having even Gratis OA yet:* Around 30% in most
> fields, especially during the first 12 months of publication (mainly
> because of publisher embargoes — on Gratis OA — but also because of
> (groundless) author fears).
> *That’s why Gratis Green OA mandates are urgently needed from institutions
> and funders, worldwide.*
> Once we have 100% Gratis Green OA globally, all the rest will come:
> Fair-Gold OA and all the re-use rights researchers want and need.
> But as long as we keep fussing and focussing pre-emptively and
> compulsively on Libre OA re-use rights (and Fool’s Gold OA) instead of
> mandating Gratis Green, we will keep getting next to no OA at all, of
> either kind, as now.
> And all it requires is a tiny bit of thought to see why this is so. (But
> for some reason, many people prefer to fulminate instead, about the
> relative virtues of Gratis vs Libre, Green vs Gold, and CC-BY vs
> non-commercial CC-BY.)
> Let’s hope that the institutions and funding agencies will get their acts
> together soon. At least 20 years of OA have already been needlessly lost…
> Dixit,
> Stevan Harnad
> Exceedingly Weary Archivangelist
> *From:* Repositories discussion list [
> ] *On Behalf Of *Richard Poynder
> *Sent:* September-01-14 8:20 AM
> *Subject:* The Open Access Interviews: Paul Royster, Coordinator of
> Scholarly Communications, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
> Paul Royster is proud of what he has achieved with his institutional
> repository. Currently, it contains 73,000 full-text items, of which more
> than 60,000 are freely accessible to the world. This, says Royster, makes
> it the second largest institutional repository in the US, and it receives
> around
> 500,000 downloads per month, with around 30% of those going to
> international users.
> Unsurprisingly, Royster always assumed that he was in the vanguard of the
> OA movement, and that fellow OA advocates attached considerable value to
> the work he was doing.
> All this changed in 2012, when he attended an open access meeting
> organised by SPARC in Kansas City. At that meeting, he says, he was
> startled to hear SPARC announce to delegates that henceforth the sine qua
> non of open access is that a work has to be made available with a CC BY
> licence or equivalent attached.
> After the meeting Royster sought to clarify the situation with SPARC,
> explaining the problems that its insistence on CC BY presented for
> repository managers like him, since it is generally not possible to make
> self-archived works available on a CC BY basis (not least because the
> copyright will invariably have been assigned to a publisher).
> Unfortunately, he says, his concerns fell on deaf ears.
> The only conclusion Royster could reach is that the OA movement no longer
> views what he is doing as open access. As he puts it, “[O]ur work in
> promulgating Green OA (which normally does not convey re-use rights) and
> our free-access publishing under non-exclusive permission-to-publish (i.e.,
> non-CC) agreements was henceforth disqualified.”
> If correct, what is striking here is the implication that institutional
> repositories can no longer claim to be providing open access.
> In fact, if one refers to the most frequently cited definitions of open
> access one discovers that what SPARC told Royster would seem to be in
> order. Although it was written before the Creative Commons licences were
> released, for instance, the definition of open access authored by those who
> launched the Budapest Open Access Initiative (BOAI) in 2001 clearly seems
> to describe the same terms as those expressed in the CC BY licence.
> What this means, of course, is that green OA does not meet the
> requirements of the BOAI — even though BOAI cited green OA as one of its
> “complementary strategies” for achieving open access.
> Since most of the OA movement’s claimed successes are green successes this
> is particularly ironic. But given this, is it not pure pedantry to worry
> about what appears to be a logical inconsistency at the heart of the OA
> movement? No, not in light of the growing insistence that only CC BY will
> do. If nothing else, it is alienating some of the movement’s best allies —
> people like Paul Royster for instance.
> “I no longer call or think of myself as an advocate for ‘open access,’
> since the specific definition of that term excludes most of what we do in
> our repository,” says Royster. “I used to think the term meant ‘free to
> access, download, and store without charge, registration, log-in, etc.,’
> but I have been disabused of that notion.”
> For that reason, he says, “My current attitude regarding OA is to step
> away and leave it alone; it does some good, despite what I see as its feet
> of clay. I am not ‘against’ it, but I don't feel inspired to promote a
> cause that makes the repositories second-class members.”
> How could this strange state of affairs have arisen? And why has it only
> really become an issue now, over a decade after the BOAI definition was
> penned?
> More here:
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