** Cross-Posted **

Let's be honest with ourselves, because OA will not come
through fantasy or wishful thinking:

It is undeniable that OA is desirable,  beneficial, inspires
a lot of enthusiasm (even in those who don't do a thing about
it, which is most people, including most researchers) and is
probably inevitable.

But it is also undeniable that despite the desirability,
benefits, enthusiasm and inevitability, and a good deal of
euphoria it periodically inspires, OA is extremely slow in
coming, it has been hovering around 20% for years, and its
growth rate is minimal.

Enthusiasts who deny or are oblivious to this reality are
fooling themselves and not doing OA a favor either.

So the realistic question is: what is a credible, viable way
to accelerate the growth of OA to 100% before this generation
of OA advocates reaches its dotage?

100% OA will not be reached within our lifetimes via a
concerted strategy by institutions to phase out subscription
journals in favor of OA journals. Publishers already have a
strategy for countering that, and it's called hybrid gold OA:

Those institutions who want to pay subscriptions pay
subscriptions; those who want to pay for Gold OA pay for Gold
OA. No money is saved by universities, because journals can
and do adjust the price of hybrid Gold OA however they wish,
to preserve their revenue streams. Hence there's no incentive
for institutions to join or stick to the concerted strategy.

What the non-subscribing institutions get is a patchwork of
Gold OA articles, missing the non-Gold articles. (This is a
classic example of what is called an "evolutionarily unstable
strategy." It looks good in theory; it crumbles in practice.)

I won't say much about the variant strategy of institutions
trying to force ("mandate") that their researchers publish
only in pure Gold OA journals. Enthusiasm there may be, for
OA, among researchers, be they ever so passive. But if any
institution starts telling them that they may no longer
publish in the journals they choose based on their
appropriateness for their work, but must choose journals
based on their cost-recovery model, and I predict these
passive authors will break into active revolt. Another
evolutionarily unstable strategy.

I'll say even less about the Elsevier boycott threat --
10,000 strong. The biomedical researcher boycott
threat in 2000 was 34,000 strong, but they all had
their fingers crossed (and so do the Elsevier authors).
Like all gestures from authors who are fervent
enough about OA to threaten boycotts for it, but
not fervent enough to provide themselves, by
self-archiving their published articles -- yet another
evolutionarily unstable strategy.

What does that leave (besides waiting for the current
sluggish course of events to continue slogging on till we

If FRPAA mandates *institutional* green OA self-archiving for
all funded research, not only will this make the huge tranche
of FRPAA-funded research OA, but it will oblige institutions
to monitor and ensure fulfillment of the funder conditions, in
their own institutional repositories -- for which the natural
mechanism is for all institutions to adopt complementary
green OA self-archiving mandates as well, making
self-archiving part of routine academic procedure.

FRPAA is just US funders. But it reaches into virtually all
US research institutions. And it will be emulated worldwide.
(The EU may even beat them to it, if Alma Swan has her way!)

That is an evolutionarily stable strategy.

Now I am ready for the usual welter of nay-sayers. But I
urge the uncommitted reader to be attentive to the grounds
for the objections. I suggest being suspicious of those that
are based on ideology or on speculation. Mandates have been tried
and tested; and where properly implemented (e.g., at Southampton
ECS, QUT, Minho and Liege), they work. What has not yet been
tested is funder mandates designating *institutional* deposit.
But that's only because the funders have only been listening to the
nay-sayers. I recommend a little open-mindedness and empiricism.

Stevan Harnad

PS Mandates are by nature "dirigiste"...

On Tue, May 1, 2012 at 4:17 PM, Eric F. Van de Velde
<[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> Jan:
> I thought for a long time that conflating the two was wrong, but I have
> changed my view on that. On Michael Eisen's blog, two comments, one by John
> C and one by JJ, illustrate the point.
> Let's start with JJ, a grad student looking for a postdoc or assistant prof
> position, but it could also be someone up for tenure. These junior
> researchers need to know that their personal open-access initiatives will be
> valued. Universities must show real commitment on their part. If they
> communicate that library subscriptions will disappear in three years,
> promotion and tenure committees will be on notice, all faculty will be on
> notice that the university is serious about the change.
> John C is a researcher who paid gold open access out of his research grants.
> The overhead on his grants sponsors his library subscriptions AND he pays
> the full freight of gold open access. That is not sustainable.
> Three years is plenty long enough for faculty, libraries, and publishers to
> adapt to a new reality, and it is short enough for the transition not to
> impact junior researchers adversely.
> Stevan will say that gold open access is not necessary. And he is right, but
> green open access has been moving too slowly and it requires mandates that
> will be difficult to enforce in the long term. The quality of institutional
> repositories is sufficient for access to research, but it is not at the
> level necessary for long-term archiving. For institutions participating in
> green open access, all the costs of open access are additive to subscription
> costs. If IRs are the answer, their quality have to improve and that means
> more resources are required.
> I don't know what the end result will be. No one can plan a disruptive
> change. However, I have come to the view that site licenses cause the
> stasis. Phasing out of paid subscriptions is the disruption that will set
> everything else in motion. Then, let faculty, students, publishers,
> libraries, and startups figure it out. The money saved on subscriptions can
> help smooth the transitory effects and can be invested in open access.
> --Eric.
> Google Voice: (626) 898-5415
> Telephone:      (626) 376-5415
> Skype chat, voice, or web-video: efvandevelde
> E-mail: [log in to unmask]
> On Tue, May 1, 2012 at 11:44 AM, Jan Velterop <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> Eric,
>> Why the second sentence? As long as they require OA, do we care how they
>> spend  or waste  their money? (Except as tax payers, perhaps, but the
>> access issue isn't the financial issue. Conflation of the two has stymied
>> progress in my view. Just as dirigiste solutions have.)
>> Jan
>> On 1 May 2012, at 19:16, Eric F. Van de Velde wrote:
>> How about the following:
>> "Because Open Access (OA) maximises research usage, impact and progress,
>> funders and institutions must require that all researchers provide OA to
>> their published research results. Institutions and their libraries will
>> phase out all electronic journal subscriptions by May 1st, 2015 and invest
>> in OA initiatives instead."
>> --Eric.
>> Google Voice: (626) 898-5415
>> Telephone:      (626) 376-5415
>> Skype chat, voice, or web-video: efvandevelde
>> E-mail: [log in to unmask]
>> On Tue, May 1, 2012 at 8:04 AM, Peter Murray-Rust <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>>> On Tue, May 1, 2012 at 3:25 PM, Jan Velterop <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>>>> I would simplify it further:
>>>> "Because Open Access (OA) maximises research usage, impact and progress,
>>>> funders and institutions must require that all researchers provide OA to
>>>> their published research results."
>>>> Any form of dirigisme as to how this is to be achieved is best avoided.
>>>> Avoiding prescriptions for the means helps keep the focus on the goal and
>>>> also leaves the door open for imaginative ways of convincing researchers,
>>>> funders and institutions, and even of achieving more OA in possibly more
>>>> effective ways.
>>> I support this.  A simple sentence powerful and this probably has what we
>>> want - like all sentences this may need slight crafting.
>>> The reality of the present situation is that we seem to need a mix of
>>> strategies. What works for one discipline may not work for another. Things
>>> have changed over the last 10 years and we need to look for changing
>>> methods, changing finances and changing allies.
>>> --
>>> Peter Murray-Rust
>>> Reader in Molecular Informatics
>>> Unilever Centre, Dep. Of Chemistry
>>> University of Cambridge
>>> CB2 1EW, UK
>>> +44-1223-763069
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