Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Friday, July 25, 2008

More on publisher deposits in PMC and the APA deposit fee

Should Publishers Have a Role—and an Interest—in Facilitating NIH Compliance?  Library Journal Academic Newswire, July 24, 2008.  Excerpt:

The backlash was so strong, it took less than a day for officials at the American Psychological Association (APA) to rescind a plan to charge a “$2500 fee” to facilitate compliance with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) public access policy. But while that short-lived plan was abruptly abandoned —APA now says it is “reexamining” its policy to “facilitate” NIH compliance— a lingering question remains: what role, if any, should publishers play in NIH compliance?

Although the NIH policy regulates only grantees, publishers have become increasingly involved with facilitating submissions to PubMed Central (PMC)....On its web site the NIH lists hundreds of journals, offering services to aid compliance with funder-mandated public access policies like the NIH’s on behalf of authors....

But is compliance really so odious a task to archive a paper that publishers need to be involved? “No,” Open Access blogger Peter Suber told the LJ Academic Newswire. So why are many publishers taking on the burden of compliance? In a word, control. “The main reason why many publishers want to make deposits on behalf of authors is so that they can specify the embargo period,” Suber observed. NIH’s David Lipman acknowledged many publishers who permit authors to submit “author-final-manuscripts have indicated that they want minimum embargo of 12 months.” ...

Wyatt Hume, provost of the University of California (UC),...urged NIH to offer more concrete guidance on the “complex” relationship between funders, researchers, and publishers, citing the breadth of NIH-related services from publishers.

Suber acknowledged Hume’s point, noting that there are many differing services from publishers because there are many “players with different interests.” Some publishers, he noted, such as the Public Library of Science, simply want all their articles in PMC. Others, he noted, “have nearly the opposite interest,” while some are in between, believing “that NIH-funded authors will gradually migrate to the journals which make their lives easier, and want to be among the winners rather than the losers from that migration.”

Publisher involvement in facilitating NIH compliance, however, shouldn’t create confusion for authors, Suber maintained, especially not over their rights situation. “Authors sign funding contracts before they sign publishing contracts,” he explained. “When they eventually publish articles based on the funded research, they can only sign publishing contracts subject to the terms of their prior funding contracts.”

Against this backdrop of increasing publisher involvement the APA briefly unveiled the most extreme publisher policy to date. While proposing to charge a deposit fee of $2500 per APA manuscript submitted to PMC, APA added no value, Suber noted, observing that NIH charges no fee for deposit, that submission is but a simple clerical process, and that APA didn’t even offer open access for the $2500 fee, still mandating a full 12-month embargo on submitted articles. Suber called it the “worst policy [for NIH-funded authors] to date.”

Although APA seemed to quickly get the message, rescinding the policy within hours of its posting, open access evangelist Stevan Harnad put blame for the fiasco on the NIH’s doorstep. Harnad maintained his oft-cited position that NIH’s requiring deposit in central repositories, like PMC, simply is not needed, and that simply mandating authors to deposit their work in their IRs is the most efficient way to go.

“The simple way to avoid all of this needless confusion and complication is for both institutions and funders to mandate deposit directly in the author’s institutional IR,” he told LJAN. “Services like PMC can then harvest the metadata from there and link to the locus of the full-text in the IR…Immediate IR deposit mandates take the publisher out of the loop completely.”

PS:  To recap, see my posts on the APA deposit fee fiasco from July 15, July 16, and July 19.