Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Stevan Harnad on what's needed and not needed for OA

Stevan Harnad, Time to Update the BBB Definition of Open Access, Open Access Archivangelism, October 18, 2007. 

Summary:  The definition of Open Access (OA) is still young, and not yet etched in stone; it stands only to benefit from a rational, corrective update. Parts of the (increasingly gilded) BBB formulation turn out to have been unnecessary, counterproductive, and even incoherent. The right to re-publish, re-sell and create derivative works may be essential for Free Online Scholarship (FOS), and for the Creative Commons, but they are not essential for OA, and it would be an unnecessary, self-imposed handicap to insist that they should be, merely raising barriers to OA where there are and need be none. It is a good idea for authors to retain extra rights for their published articles, wherever possible, but it is definitely not a necessary prerequisite for Green OA self-archiving, nor for Green OA self-archiving mandates.

For the 62% of articles published in the Green journals that have explicitly endorsed the immediate OA self-archiving of the author's postprint, no further rights are needed to self-archive it, hence no further rights need to be negotiated as a precondition. And robotic harvesting and data-mining (Google, Scirus, OAIster) all come with the free online territory as surely as individual usage does.

For the 38% of articles published in non-Green journals, authors can still deposit them in their Institutional Repositories (IRs), immediately upon acceptance for publication, setting access as Closed Access. With the help of the IR's "Email Eprint Request" Button, this provides for (1) accessing, (2) reading, (3) downloading, (4) storing (5) printing-off, (6) individual data-mining, and (7) re-using content (but not text) in further publications. That is still not OA; it is only almost-OA: Missing is full-text (8*) robotic harvesting and (9*) robotic data-mining.

If all or most universities already mandated immediate-deposit as above (Open Access for the Green 62% and Closed Access for the non-Green 38%), there would be no problem at all about then going still further and trying to negotiate the retention of more rights -- even unnecessary ones! But instead declaring successful rights retention a precondition (by "definition') would simply hamstring self-archiving and self-archiving mandates, and hence OA.

PS:  There's much that I agree with here, mostly in the last three paragraphs, even though I believe the BBB definition of OA is right to call for the removal of permission barriers in addition to price barriers.  But I can't say more without saying much more, and I need time and space for that.  So for now I'll run Stevan's post without (additional) comment.  Note, BTW, that I've only run his summary and the full post is considerably longer.  For the full picture, please read his full post.