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Open Access: The Historic Irony Stevan Harnad 02 May 2010 16:18 UTC

        ** Apologies for Cross-Posting **

[Hyperlinked version of this Commentary: ]

Historians will look back on our planet's glacially slow transition to
the optimal and inevitable outcome for refereed research dissemination
in the online era -- free online access webwide -- and will point out
the irony of the fact that we were so much quicker to commit scarce
money to trying to reform publishing ("Gold OA") through projects like
SCOAP3 and COPE than we were to commit to providing free online access
("Green OA") to our own research output (by depositing it in our
institutional repositories, and mandating that it be deposited) at no
extra cost at all.

Here is just the latest instance:

      "SCOAP3 support in the United States almost complete!… So far,
over 150 U.S. libraries and library consortia have pledged a total of
over 3.2 Million dollars to the SCOAP3 initiative. This is almost the
entire contribution expected from partners in the United States.
Worldwide, SCOAP3 partners in 24 countries collectively pledged around
7 Million Euros. These pledges represent about 70% of the SCOAP3
funding envelope, and the initiative is getting close to its next
steps to convert to Open Access the entire literature of the field of
High-Energy Physics."

Yet (mark my words) it will be Green OA self-archiving -- and Green OA
self-archiving mandates by institutions and funders -- that actually
bring us universal OA at long last, and not the limited and
ineffectual "gold fever" that is "freeing" (already-free) high energy
physics (SCOAP3) -- already effectively OA for almost two decades now!
-- nor the COPE commitment on the part of universities to pay to make
a small portion of their own research output Gold OA -- without first
committing to make all of it Green OA, cost-free.

[University presidents and provosts especially seem to be quite quick
to sign open letters in support of their government's adopting an open
access mandate, yet much slower to adopt an open access mandate for
their own institutions!

    "Never Pay Pre-Emptively For Gold OA Before First Mandating Green OA"

    "On Not Putting The Gold OA-Payment Cart Before The Green
OA-Provision Horse"

    "SCOAP3 and the pre-emptive "flip" model for Gold OA conversion"

    "Compact for Open-Access Publishing Equity [COPE]: Mistaking
intent for action?"

    "Putting Principled Support Into Practice: What Provosts Need to Mandate"

Stevan Harnad