Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Monday, May 26, 2008

More on free/open and text/data

Stevan Harnad, OA Primer for the Perplexed, Open Access Archivangelism, May 25, 2008.  From the summary:

OA1 is Free Access and OA2 is Licensed Re-Use. Green OA self-archiving by authors, mandated by their universities or funders, can in principle provide OA1 or OA2, for either articles or data or both. However, it would be difficult, resisted by many authors, and probably unjust for universities to mandate Green OA1 for data or to mandate Green OA2 for either articles or data. (Funders are in a position to mandate more.)

Researchers may not want to make their data either freely accessible/useable or re-usable, and they may not want to make their articles freely re-useable. However, all researchers, without exception, want their articles freely accessible/usable (OA1).

This is the reason Green OA1 mandates are the highest priority. Authors all want Green OA1 and they report that they will comply, willingly (see Swan studies) and actually do comply (see Sale studies) with Green OA1 mandates from their universities and funders to self-archive their articles.

Moreover, OA1 for articles prepares the way and is likely to lead to OA1 and OA2 for data, as well as to some OA2 for articles.

That is why Green OA1 self-archiving and Green OA1 self-archiving mandates should be assigned priority....

Comment.  I agree with nearly all of this.  But I want to note two exceptions:

  • There are a couple of ways to interpret the claim that OA1 (gratis OA, weak OA, "free access") is a higher priority than OA2 (libre OA, strong OA, "licensed reuse").  If it means that we ought to give all our energy to the first, and succeed in attaining it, before lifting a finger for the second, then I can't agree.  However, if it means that we shouldn't delay progress on the first while we work on the second, then I agree and have often said so myself.  But I'd put the point this way:  We should work for both at once.  When we find ourselves in circumstances when the first is attainable but the second is not, which happens often, then we should accept the first, celebrate our victory, and keep working for the second.
  • I agree that, today, it would be politically difficult to adopt a green OA mandate which applied to data files or which used the stronger species of OA (OA2, libre OA).  But I don't agree that it would be unjust.  Stevan is right to predict resistance to such policies, today, but that resistance would be an artifact of historical conditions and customs (a topic for another day!), and these conditions and customs are changing even now.  I not only expect that such policies will be widely welcomed one day, but I'm working for that day.
  • BTW, there are already green OA data mandates at CIHR and ERC, and calls for them from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.