Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

More on the EU Council Conclusions on OA

Stevan Harnad, Critique of EU Council's Conclusions (again heavily influenced by the publisher anti-OA lobby), Open Access Archivangelism, January 16, 2008.  Excerpt:

Here is the video of my presentation to the DRIVER Summit:

Institutional Versus Central Deposit:
Optimising DRIVER Policy for the OA Mandate and Metric Era

Also to be discussed at the DRIVER Summit is this statement by the EU Council (not to be confused with the European Research Council (ERC), which has mandated OA self-archiving!) The EU Council's Conclusions show the tell-tale signs of penetration by the publisher anti-OA lobby; familiar slogans, decisively rebutted many, many times before, crop up verbatim in the EU Council's language, though the Council does not appear to realize that it has allowed itself to become the mouthpiece of these special interests, which are not those of the research community:
Council of the European Union: Conclusions on scientific information in the digital age: access, dissemination and preservation
Here is my critique of this EU Council statement (all [italic]quotes are from the Council's statement, the underscores have been added):
"the importance of scientific output resulting from publicly funded research being available on the Internet at no cost to the reader under economically viable circumstances, including delayed open access"

(1) 'At no cost to the reader' conflates site-licensing and Open Access (OA). This wording was no doubt urged by the publisher lobby. The focus should be on providing free online access webwide. That is OA, and that makes the objective clear and coherent.

(2) 'Delayed open access' refers to publisher embargoes on author self-archiving. If embargoes are to be accommodated, it should be made clear that they apply to the date at which the access to the embargoed document is made OA, not to the date at which the document is deposited, which should be immediately upon acceptance for publication. The DRIVER network of Institutional Repositories (IRs) can then adopt the 'email eprint request' button that will allow individual users to request and receive individual copies of the document semi-automatically....

"ensure the long term preservation of scientific information -including publications and data"
This is an example of the complete conflation of OA-provision with digital preservation, including a conflation of authors' supplementary postprints with the publisher's original, as well as a conflation of research publications with research data....

"promoting, through these policies, access through the internet to the results of publicly financed research, at no cost to the reader, taking into consideration economically sustainable ways of doing this, including delayed open access"

Economic sustainability is again a red herring introduced by the publishing lobby into language that should only concern the research community and research access. The economic sustainability of publishing is not DRIVER's concern.
DRIVER's concern should be interoperable OA-provision....

"B. Invitation to the Commission to implement the measures announced in the Communication on "scientific information in the digital age: access, dissemination and preservation", and in particular to: 1. Experiment with open access to scientific publications resulting from projects funded by the EU Research Framework Programmes by: defining and implementing concrete experiments with open access to scientific publications resulting from Community funded research, including with open access."

This is a vague way of saying that the publishing lobby has persuaded the EU not to do the obvious, but to keep on 'experimenting' as if what needed to be done were not already evident, already tested, already demonstrated to work, and already being done, worldwide (including by RCUK, ERC, NIH, and over a dozen universities):

The EU should mandate that all EU-funded research articles (postprints) are deposited in the fundee's IR immediately upon acceptance for publication. Access can be set in compliance with embargoes, if desired. And data-archiving should be strongly encouraged. DRIVER's concern should be with ensuring that the network of IRs has the requisite interoperability to make it maximally useful and useable for further research progress....

PS:  Also see my own comments on the EU Council Conclusions (one, two).