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Saturday, January 05, 2008

Does the AAP/PSP criticism of the NIH policy reflect its members?

Bill Hooker, Does the AAP/PSP really represent its members? Open Reading Frame, January 4, 2008.  Excerpt:

The PSP lists its members here; it didn't take long to compare that list with the list of publishers indexed by SHERPA/RoMEO. Of the 355 publishers in the RoMEO database, 46 are members of PSP; of these, 16 are listed as "grey" (won't allow archiving), 23 are "green" (allow refereed postprint archiving -- NIH mandate compliant) and 7 "pale green" (allow preprint archiving; many "pale green" publishers actually allow postprint archiving and are NIH compliant, but are not listed as green because of various restrictions).

It's not possible to do what I wanted here -- which was to answer the title question. The problem is that the PSP lists 102 about 100 members that aren't indexed by RoMEO. I found that somewhat surprising, particularly since the list includes names I'd have expected to find in RoMEO: FASEB, Stanford U Press, Yale U Press, Cold Spring Harbor Lab Press, NEJM, Highwire Press and others.

Nonetheless, we can say that if the RoMEO-indexed sample (46 of 148, 31%) is representative, then at least 50% of PSP members are already complying with the NIH mandate, and a further 15% at least allow preprint archiving and may even be NIH-compliant.

It's even more unbalanced if we compare the numbers of journals published by each company. Those 46 publishers account for 5901 journals; the grey publishers put out 222 (4%), the green publishers 4243 (72%) and the pale green publishers 1436 (24%).

If the PSP were honest and interested in fairly representing its members, I'd think they would find out (and make public) whether the remaining, non-RoMEO indexed members follow the same pattern. I won't hold my breath....

Bill adds this clarification in a subsequent post:

The publisher list I've been using in the last few posts actually comes from, using information from SHERPA/RoMEO....This wouldn't cause any confusion and I wouldn't bother to point it out, except that RoMEO actually uses a four-colour scheme (green, blue, yellow, white) which EPrints has squished into three (green, pale green, grey).

Comment.  Bill asks a good question and makes a good start toward an answer.  To summarize his data:  Counting AAP/PSP members as publishers, about half already have policies in place compatible with the coming NIH mandate.  Counting AAP/PSP members according to the journals they publish, the vast majority (roughly 72%) already have such policies in place.  When the AAP/PSP Executive Council launched PRISM in August 2007, it tried to give the impression that the new organization was a coalition and represented the AAP/PSP membership.  But PRISM never publicly identified any members of the coalition, and nine major publishers soon disavowed or distanced themselves from it.  Two members of the AAP/PSP Executive Council even resigned in protest:  James Jordan, director of Columbia University Press, and Ellen Faran, director of the MIT Press.  Has AAP/PSP ever consulted its members about its position on the NIH policy?  Are AAP/PSP members willing to see their dues spent on a lawsuit to delay it? 

Update (1/5/08). Bill Hooker is drafting a letter to the green publishers who belong to the AAP/PSP, asking whether the association's position on the NIH policy reflects their views and whether it consulted them before making its position public. Let him know if you are willing to sign his letter (by email or by commenting on his blog). I am.