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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Publisher deposits and the NIH policy

Stevan Harnad, Publisher Proxy Deposit Is A Potential Trojan Horse, Open Access Archivangelism, March 18, 2008.  Excerpt:

I suggest not colluding with publishers offering to "Let us do the [mandated] deposit for you".

The reason is simple, if we take the moment to think it through: ...

[PS:  Stevan argues that mandating deposit in institutional repositories is a better policy than mandating deposit in central or disciplinary repositories like PubMed Central.]

(11) It would hence systematically undermine the scaling and convergence of OA self-archiving mandates onto university IRs to transfer responsibility for compliance to an external party -- the publisher as their employees' proxy self-archiver -- depositing in arbitrary and divergent external repositories.

(12) Universities and funders should universally mandate self-archiving directly in each author's own university's IR; they should say "no, thank you" to offers of proxy self-archiving on behalf of their employees from publishers. External collections can then be harvested, as desired, from the IRs that will then cover 100% of OA output....

Comment.  It's one thing to argue that the NIH policy should mandate deposit in the author's institutional repository (when they have one).  But as long as the NIH is mandating deposit in PMC, and as long as a journal meets the NIH's criteria for depositing articles on behalf of authors, then I don't see any reason why authors shouldn't take advantage of the option.  I did object to journal deposit under the older, voluntary policy, because it gave publishers the decision on the length of the embargo.  Under the new policy, however, the length of the embargo is already set by the time the author signs the copyright transfer agreement.  Hence, journal deposit cannot change the terms of the deal.  Or if there's some subtle way in which it can, then I'll join Stevan's call on authors to make the deposits themselves.  I already agree with him that, if the policy were to mandate deposit in the author's IR, then author deposits would make much more sense than journal deposits.

Update (3/20/08).  Stevan just updated his post to make clear that he was talking about publishers who want to charge fees for depositing papers in PMC.  My response above was limited to publishers who do not charge fees, and I share Stevan's objections to those who would charge fees.  For example, see my April 2007 article, Paying for green open access.

Update (3/22/08).  Also see Stevan's three follow-up posts:  Publisher Proxy Deposit Is A Potential Trojan Horse: II, Publisher Proxy Deposit Is A Potential Trojan Horse: III, and One Small Step for NIH, One Giant Leap for Mankind.  The last is a response to my blog comments above.