Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Authors needn't wait for publishers and universities needn't wait for governments

Stevan Harnad, No OA Yet? Don't Blame Elsevier! Open Access Archivangelism, September 2, 2006. Excerpt:

Elsevier has since at least 2004 given every single author of every single article published in every single one of its c. 2000 journals the green light to self-archive it if they wish to make their article Open Access (OA). All Elsevier authors can, with Elsevier's blessing, deposit their peer-reviewed final drafts (postprints) immediately upon acceptance for publication (no embargo -- and their pre-refereeing preprints even earlier, if they wish) in their own OA Institutional Repositories (IRs). 

No author desirous of OA can ask for more from their publisher; yet only about 15% of authors are as yet self-archiving spontaneously....

There is only one cure for this fruitless inertia: Authors' institutions and funders need to mandate self-archiving, so authors (and users) can stop complaining about needing or wanting OA, and start doing something about it, for their own (and their institutions') good, as well as the good of research and the public that funds it. 

(We don't need more solemn signings of pious declarations of abstract principle; we don't even need more sanguine signatures from provosts applauding national legislation to mandate concrete self-archiving: Charity begins at home, and provosts should adopt self-archiving mandates at their own institutions without waiting for their governments: then it won't even matter whether or not the legislation manages to get passed!)


  1. Stevan is right about Elsevier and what I've called primacy of authors in achieving OA. From my Open Access Overview: "Most publishers and most journals already permit author-initiated OA archiving. Since self-archiving is a bona fide form of OA, authors who fail to take advantage of the opportunity are actually a greater obstacle to OA than publishers who fail to offer the opportunity."
  2. However, I take a different view of the provost statements.  On the one hand, it's true that provosts endorsing FRPAA shouldn't wait for FRPAA to adopt OA friendly policies on their own campuses (and I've said so).   But on the other, FRPAA could do far more for OA than any single university and it's highly desirable for provosts to do all they can to help it pass.  Their public endorsements are key part of that strategy.