I think Stevan has touched on more fundamental issues here and they are
academic freedom and open debate. Whether I agree with Graham or not, I
would defend his right to voice his opinions in a personal capacity as
he has done. We can argue against colleagues but should not seek to
Open Access Adviser (Repositories Support Project)
Centre for Research Communications
T: +44 (0)115 8466389
F: +44 (0)115 8467577
[log in to unmask]
From: An informal open list set up by UKSG - Connecting the Information
Community [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Stevan
Sent: 27 July 2010 17:30
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: [lis-e-resources] The Mandate of Open Access Institutional
SUMMARY: Open Access (OA) Institutional Repository (IR) managers need to
remind themselves that their mandate is to see to it that their IRs are
filled with OA's target content (peer-reviewed research journal
articles) so as to maximize the accessibility, visibility, usage and
impact of their institution's research output. Their mandate is not to
seek or provide alternative "business models" for journal publishing.
In a UKSG Serials News posting,
"Are we nearly there yet? On the road to open access",
Graham Stone [GS], Repository Manager, University of Huddersfieldand
Chair, UK Council of Research Repositories (UKCoRR) wrote:
GS: "Not too long ago, I took a phone call from an academic colleague
from the Health Sciences regarding the submission of an article to
Biomed Central. [The colleague] phoned me as I am the 'Repository guy'
and [the colleague was] learning to play the 'Repository game', that is
getting their work out there on open access and increasing their
citations. [The colleague was] very impressed that so many people
downloaded their last paper within days of it appearing in the
This upbeat-sounding paragraph is unfortunately a series of (familiar)
misunderstandings and non-sequiturs about Open Access (OA) and
Institutional Repositories (IRs):
(1) Biomed Central (BMC) is a gold OA (pay-to-publish) journal
(2) Publishing in a BMC journal has nothing to do with depositing an
article in "the Repository."
Which Repository -- Huddersfield's? You don't need to publish in a
pay-to-publish gold OA journal in order to deposit in a green OA
Institutional Repository (IR) like Huddersfield's, nor in order to
benefit from the increased downloads and citations that OA makes
possible. All you do is publish in whatever journal you publish in, and
deposit the final refereed draft in your OA IR as soon as it is accepted
Or was the deposit in PubMed Central (PMC, not BMC)? Likewise no payment
(3) There is no "Repository game". There is just the research and
(Providing OA maximizes research access, usage and impact, and OA can be
provided in two ways. I. "Gold OA": by publishing in an OA journal (of
which the major ones require payment to publish); orII. "Green OA": by
publishing in any journal at all -- whether subscription-based or OA --
and also depositing the final draft in your OA IR: no payment required.
The "game" is merely ensuring that allpotential users have online access
to your published articles, not just those whose institutions can afford
to subscribe to the journal in which it happened to be published.)
GS: "It struck me as very interesting that to [this colleague], the next
stage of the 'game' was to consider switching from green to gold open
access - providing someone would pay of course!"
The colleague sounds like a researcher who has just deposited an article
for the first time in an OA repository (perhaps PMC, though it should
have been Huddersfield's IR), and not a researcher who has just paid BMC
for gold OA publication (otherwise the colleague would know who was
GS: "This is not the first time that this topic has come up in
conversation in the past few weeks. At the recent LIBER conference at
Aarhus University in Denmark discussion over dinner turned to open
access. One comment from a colleague was that green open access could
not be successful in the long run as this was a compromise, and
'compromises never work'."
How is providing OA to one's published article by depositing it in one's
IR a "compromise"?
A compromise of what, with what, for whom?
Depositing an article in an IR consists of a few minutes' worth of
keystrokes that maximize the access, usage and impact of one's article.
But perhaps the LIBER discussion was not among (1) researchers,
discussing the problem of how to "get their work out there on open
access and increase their citations" rather than continue to allow
access to it to be restricted only to those researchers whose
institutions can afford to pay for subscription access to the journal in
which it happens to be published...
Perhaps the LIBER discussion was instead among (2) librarians,
discussing the problem of how to afford to pay for subscription access?
Or perhaps the LIBER discussion was among (3) publishers, discussing the
problem of how to guarantee current subscription revenue streams in a
growing climate of demand for open access on the part of researchers,
their institutions, their funders, and the tax-paying public that funds
To repeat: In what sense is green OA self-archiving a "compromise"?
A compromise of what, with what, for whom?
Is a university repository manager a representative of the immediate
interests of the university's researchers (and their institutions,
funders, and the tax-paying public that funds the research), or of the
interests of publishers and their present and future business models?
If librarians are to fulfill the role of repository managers, they need
to re-think what they are doing, and why, and what it is that
researchers and research need in the OA era.
An OA IR is not a buy-in collection of journal subscriptions: It is a
give-away provision of access to an institution's published journal
GS: "The road to open access is covered in gold and this is the way
The way forward for whom? And according to whom? And in the interests of
Researchers can be mandated to provide green OA for their published
work. (Without mandates, onlyabout 20% self-archive.)
And funds, if available, can be provided to pay for gold OA.
But publishers cannot be mandated to provide gold OA.
And the funds to pay for gold OA cannot be mandated while they are still
tied up in paying for subscriptions (and the asking price for gold OA is
designed to preserve publishers' current revenue streams, come what
The road to green OA is wide open, and traversing it is entirely in the
hands of researchers (and their institutions and funders).
The road to gold OA is not wide open; it costs money, and it is in the
hands of publishers, not researchers. And the potential money to pay for
gold OA is currently tied up in institutions' subscriptions, which are
being paid to publishers, by institution's libraries.
So how is the road to OA covered with gold, and how is it the way
GS: "A few days earlier, Kurt de Belder from Leiden University in the
Netherlands had laid out his vision of the future, which assumed that
open access would be via the gold route and if Repositories existed,
they would only contain grey literature."
Kurt de Melder is the director of Leiden University's library (and an
advisor to several publishers). Does his golden vision (like the green
vision) include a practical means (like the green vision's mandates) of
getting us from here to there? Or is it all just a golden wish, waiting
for publishers to convert to gold and release the subscription money to
pay their asking price?
And while the institution's library keeps waiting for this to happen, is
the access, usage and impact of the institution's research to continue
to be denied to all but subscribing institutions, as now, while
institutions' IRs (which already exist, by the way) be devoted instead
to "grey literature" (whatever that means) instead of to refereed
research (green OA)?
And meanwhile, visions aside, those who have their eyes wide open cannot
help but notice that IRs (which already exist, remember) contain green
content rather than just grey content, and that green deposit mandates
can and do drive up the percentage green from the baseline 20% to 60%
and approaching 100% within a few years.
What's missing, and needed (for those with eyes wide open to see) is
more green OA mandates from institutions and funders -- not a-priori
visions generated by pre-emptive gold fever (with no serious reflection
on practical means and ends: visions of golden roads to OA, wide open
GS: "Personally, and not as Chair of UKCoRR (UK Council of Research
Repositories), I must admit that I am starting to agree with the gold
only route, although I'm not sure I should."
If the Chair of UK's Council of Research Repositories is starting to
agree (whether personally or ex officio) with the gold-only route, then
perhaps it is time for the Chair to think of resigning, and allowing
UKCoRR's direction to be set by those who understand the needs of
research and researchers, the power of green OA IRs, and the urgent need
for Green OA mandates.
Surely there is a "UK Council of Publishing Business Models" that could
be joined instead, by those who have become afflicted by gold fever,
forgetting about research and researchers' urgent immediate need for OA,
and IRs' mission to provide it.
GS: "I have been espousing the virtues of green open access for nearly
five years. At Huddersfield we have 26% full text in the Repository
despite not yet having a mandate and our full text downloads are really
taking off - 46,000 in the last 12 months."
If that 26% is 26% of Hudderfield's current yearly research output, then
that deposit rate is somewhat above the global spontaneous (i.e.,
unmandated) baseline deposit rate of about 20%, but it is a far cry from
what the deposit rate would be if Huddersfield were to adopt a mandate.
A repository manager espousing the interests of Hudderfield's
researchers should be espousing the virtues of green OA mandates to
Hudderfield's researchers and administration, not just the virtues of
providing green OA spontaneously (although that is, of course, welcome
Well over five years' consistent experience (and surveys) worldwide have
shown that most researchers will not deposit spontaneously but they will
deposit (willingly) if deposit is mandated. In the past few years, it is
not spontaneous deposit rates that have been picking up, but the deposit
mandate adoption, and the resulting green OA.
This is not the time for repository managers to succumb to gold fever
(which leads next to nowhere, and is not even part of their remit),
resigning their IRs to warehousing "grey literature."
GS: "However, for some time I have had my doubts as to whether the
championing of green open access was actually taking us down the right
road. I could see that gold open access was a good business model. "
If we all commit to deposit, we don't need green OA self-archiving
But we don't all commit to deposit, even though it costs nothing. Only
about 20% commit (26% at Huddersfield, perhaps because the IR manager
has for five years espoused the virtues of deposit so persuasively).
But even fewer commit to gold OA, because it costs money, and the money
to pay for it is still tied up in paying for subscriptions.
And there are no mandates to require researchers to pay for gold OA, nor
to release the subscription money, nor to dictate publishers' business
model, nor to set their asking price.
Besides, none of that is within an OA IR manager's remit. An OA IR
manager is supposed to get his IR filled with OA target content, and
that target content is supposed to be, first and foremost, peer-reviewed
journal articles, most of which are today published in subscription
What needs to be championed by IR managers (and a fortiori, by the Chair
of the UK Council of Research Repositories). and championed for their
researchers and their institutions, are the virtues of green OA mandates
that will fill their IRs -- not the virtues of "good business models,"
championed for publishers, by librarians. (You don't need to be an IR
manager to go down that road.)
And those who are indeed committed to championing green OA mandates
(rather than succumbing to gold "visions") worldwide are beginning to
GS: "The trouble to me is that the model only really works if we all
commit. Otherwise, you end up paying twice, once for the open access
article and once for the journal subscription. I just didn't see how we
arrived at this brave new world of gold open access journals, no serials
budgets and stuff in the cloud."
Yes, that's indeed the size of it. Trying to go directly from the status
quo to gold OA is quite simply self-contradictory, like an Escher
drawing of an impossible shape:
The money to pay for gold OA is tied up in subscriptions. But
institutions cannot cancel their journal subscriptions unless the
journals' contents are accessible otherwise. Catch 22.
(And anyone foolish and gullible enough to believe publishers who say
they will reduce subscription fees as gold OA revenues increase is
forgetting that this requires institutions to find the money to pay the
gold asking price first, while it is still being spent on the
subscriptions! A good "business model" indeed...)
But apparently this baldly self-contradictory prospect, so evident to
explicit, sober reflection, is insufficient to to suppress gold fever
when an IR manager hears "colleagues" express their considered opinions
on the way to go, particularly in the glow of what looks like a "good
[albeit self-contradictory] business model."
(By the way, the somewhat uneven distribution of wealth on the planet
can also be fixed "if we all commit"...)
GS: "But maybe I can see how we get to gold open access now? With
researchers taking ownership of the 'game' by realising that gold open
access is the only way to ensure access for all and increased citations,
maybe we are on the right road after all?"
Researchers "taking ownership of the 'game'"? By "realizing gold OA is
the only way"?
The contradiction on the road to there from here is resolved by
"realization"? By researchers? (The same researchers for whom the only
thing they need to do to provide OA is a few keystrokes? And they're not
even "committed" enough to do those keystrokes, unless they are first
mandated by their institutions or funders?)
What does this vision envision that researchers are to do with this
newfound golden realization? The same thing 34,000 of them did
(unsuccessfully) in 2000? Sign a petition to boycott their journals if
they don't go OA?
And if researchers were really that committed to "ensuring access for
all and increased citations," wouldn't it be simpler than making empty
threats against all their publishers just to petition their one and only
institution to mandate deposit?
Better still, if their realisation about "the only way" were that
profound, wouldn't researchers just go ahead and do the keystrokes to
deposit of their own accord, unmandated, in order to "ensure access for
all and increased citations"?
And would it not be a remarkable coincidence it it turned out that the
most pressing thing on researchers' minds turned out not to be the
access and impact of their work (which they can already provide with a
few green keystrokes), but a "good business model" for their publishers
and their long-suffering librarians?
A remarkable coincidence that what researchers had been yearning for all
along turned out (upon "realisation") to be exactly the same thing their
librarians had been yearning for -- which was not the filling of their
OA IRs but relief from the serials crisis?
GS: "And maybe, instead of the superfast highway to gold open access
that some envisage, are we travelling down the leafy lane of green open
access with gold just around the next corner? A bit round the houses,
but yes we are certainly getting there."
The super-fast highway to gold OA? Amidst all this "realisation," I
don't recall hearing the game plan for solving the problem of the toll
booths posted along the ubiquitous subscription highways -- the ones
that are currently gobbling up institutions' serial budgets (i.e., the
funds that would be used instead to pay for gold OA)...
But it is true that green OA, once it becomes universal, may eventually
get us to gold OA too -- if it causes universal cancellations, forcing
journals to cut costs, downsize, and convert to gold OA, thereby
releasing the windfall subscription savings to pay the reduced cost of
gold OA (peer review alone, with the print and online editions gone, and
all access-provision and archiving offloaded onto the worldwide network
of OA IRs).
But that's not around the next corner; and we are certainly getting
ahead of ourselves, if we don't provide the universal green OA first --
for that's what the subscription cancellation windfall is predicated
upon. The cancellations can't be done pre-emptively. Certainly not by a
single institution, or IR manager -- not even the chair of the UK
Council of Research Repositories. That would require global
institutional subscription cancellations, and all at once (not one
institution or country at a time -- otherwise the researchers of that
institution or country, instead of gaining open access, lose
subscription access altogether).
My recommendation to OA IR managers (even the chair of UKCoRR) is to
focus on their own mandate, which is to fill their own IRs, not to dream
about business models that are as good as gold.
And the way to get their OA IRs filled is already known: It is by
getting their institutions to mandate green OA. That's all. And that's
enough. The rest will take care of itself, in its own time. But
meanwhile their institution's researchers will "ensure access for all
and increased citations."
And that, after all -- not "a good business model" -- is the purpose of
OA, and the mandate of an OA IR manager.
See "Waiting for Gold"
(from the 2002 BOAI Self-Archiving FAQ).
American Scientist Open Access Forum
lis-e-resources is a UKSG list - http://www.uksg.org/serials
UKSG groups also available on Facebook and LinkedIn
This message has been checked for viruses but the contents of an attachment
may still contain software viruses which could damage your computer system:
you are advised to perform your own checks. Email communications with the
University of Nottingham may be monitored as permitted by UK legislation.
lis-e-resources is a UKSG list - http://www.uksg.org/serials
UKSG groups also available on Facebook and LinkedIn