Stevan Harnad has commented extensively on my "The Spectrum of E-Journal Access Policies: Open to Restricted Access" DigitalKoans posting. Thanks for doing so, Stevan. Here are my thoughts on your comments.
First, let me concede that if you look at this question from Stevan’s particular open-access-centric point of view that, of course, the spectrum of publisher access policies is a complete and utter waste of time. I don’t recall suggesting that this was a new open access model per se, even though it includes open access in it as a component and it makes some further distinctions between open access and free access journals. Rather, it is what it says it is: a model that presents a range of publisher access policies from the least restrictive to the most restrictive. The color codes merely enhance the model slightly, they are not central to it (and, of course, as Steven says, he created this color coding Frankenstein to begin with). The model says nothing about e-prints.
That said, Steven’s view that open access equals free access (period) is not, as he well knows, universal, and his green and gold models are based on this premise.
Here is how Peter Suber defines OA in "Open Access Overview: Focusing on Open Access to Peer-Reviewed Research Articles and Their Preprints" (boldface is mine):
- OA should be immediate, rather than delayed, and OA should apply to the full-text, not just to abstracts or summaries.
- OA removes price barriers (subscriptions, licensing fees, pay-per-view fees) and permission barriers (most copyright and licensing restrictions).
- There is some flexibility about which permission barriers to remove. For example, some OA providers permit commercial re-use and some do not. Some permit derivative works and some do not. But all of the major public definitions of OA agree that merely removing price barriers, or limiting permissible uses to "fair use" ("fair dealing" in the UK), is not enough.
- Here’s how the Budapest Open Access Initiative put it: "There are many degrees and kinds of wider and easier access to this literature. By ‘open access’ to this literature, we mean its free availability on the public internet, permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of these articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself. The only constraint on reproduction and distribution, and the only role for copyright in this domain, should be to give authors control over the integrity of their work and the right to be properly acknowledged and cited."
- Here’s how the Bethesda and Berlin statements put it: "For a work to be OA, the copyright holder must consent in advance to let users ‘copy, use, distribute, transmit and display the work publicly and to make and distribute derivative works, in any digital medium for any responsible purpose, subject to proper attribution of authorship….’"
- The Budapest (February 2002), Bethesda (June 2003), and Berlin (October 2003) definitions of "open access" are the most central and influential for the OA movement. Sometimes I call refer to them collectively, or to their common ground, as the BBB definition.
So, by most OA definitions, a journal that "makes all of its articles immediately and permanently accessible to all would-be users webwide toll-free" is not OA unless it also uses a Creative Commons or similar license that permits use with minimal restrictions. It is FA (Free Access). As I have said in an earlier dialog, we can count on no journal to be "permanently accessible" unless some trusted archive other than the publisher makes it so, an issue that Steven apparently disagrees with, believing that publishers never go out of business.
I note that Steven has deviated from his "chrononomic parsimony" principle by having both "Green" and "Pale-Green," in his model and then lumping them both together in his discussions as "GREEN." (In his Summary Statistics So Far site he also introduces the color Grey, for "neither yet.") If preprints and postprints are of equal value, why not just code them Green? If they are not of equal value (i.e., postprints that accurately incorporate the changes that occur during the peer-review process are the only real substitute for the published article), then, in reality, those 15.5% of "Pale-Green" journals are of limited value in terms of self-archiving, and the real GREEN journal number is 76.2%, not 92%.
I must admit to some confusion on his latest stand that all types of self-archiving are equal. In "Ten Years After," he seems to be expressing a different sentiment regarding author home pages:
That said, there was a naive element to the Subversive Proposal, too, since Harnad’s plan would have led to researchers posting their papers on thousands of isolated FTP sites. This would have meant that anyone wanting to access the papers would have needed prior knowledge of the papers’ existence and the whereabouts of every relevant archive. They would then have had to search each archive separately. Today, Harnad concedes that "anonymous FTP sites and arbitrary Web sites are more like common graves, insofar as searching is concerned."
Perhaps I misunderstand what is meant by "arbitrary Web sites."
As the prior DigitalKoans dialog beginning with "How Green Is My Publisher?" shows, we clearly disagree on many points related to the importance of author copyright agreements (e.g., they have to permit deposit in disciplinary archives), the importance of deposit in OAI-PMH-compliant archives, and the mission and scope of institutional repositories.
A series of DigitalKoans postings that start with "The View from the IR Trenches, Part 1" provides numerous quotes from the literature that bolster my case.
Second, while I admire Stevan’s unflagging advocacy of open access (by which he really means free access), open access is not the only issue in the e-journal publishing world that is of concern to librarians to whom this missive was mainly addressed. This is because librarians, while hopefully working to build a better future, have to deal with the messy existing realities of the e-publishing environment to do their jobs and to make decisions about how to allocate scarce resources. Consequently, librarians have to scan the e-publishing environment, analyze it, categorize it, and make evaluative judgements about it. They have to make models of e-publishing reality to better understand it. They don’t have the luxury of only dreaming about what that reality should be.
Thus, while Steven is indifferent to many of those 894,302 free full-text articles from 857 HighWire-hosted journals (a number which likely dwarfs all articles available from OA/free journals), librarians are not. Paying attention to them is important. While many are not immediately free, they are free nonetheless after some embargo period. And EA (Embargoed Access) journals are better than RA (Restricted Access) journals in practical terms for users who have no other current access. And even limited access to more restrictive PA (Partial Access) journals is likely to be welcomed by users who today would have no access otherwise. I know that both kinds of access are welcomed by me as a user.
This is not to say that we shouldn’t strive for journals to move up the spectrum from red to green, but it is to say that: (1) some free access is better than no free access for journals that will never move further up the spectrum, and (2) it may be that some journals have to move step-by-step, not in one leap, for the change to take place, and, if they start higher, it may be easier to encourage them to move further and faster. (But we have to know which ones have this potential based on their current status.)
Steven’s model has colors, but, in reality, each color is black and white: Gold and nothing, GREEN and grey. All or nothing. And, as long as you accept his premises, it works, and it allows him to focus on his free-access goal with single minded determination, undistracted by the knotted complexities of the e-scholarly publishing environment. Long may he run.
For those who have a different view of OA or who have broader concerns, it’s too "black and white."
I give him the last word on this matter.