[Open-access] [GOAL] Re: Re: Fight Publishing Lobby's Latest "FIRST" Act to Delay OA - Nth Successor to PRISM, RWA etc.

Bjoern Brembs b.brembs at gmail.com
Fri Nov 22 15:52:03 UTC 2013

On Friday, November 22, 2013, 12:25:42 AM, you wrote:

>> I find subscriptions too expensive compared to other
>> solutions

> Institutional users need access to subscription journals
> today. Whatever the solution, if the content is not OA, it
> means paying tolls. The toll budget for journal access is
> handled by the library, not by the users. 

I'm not sure I understand the argument here. Is that supposed to be a justification for keeping subscriptions or an admission that we are stuck with what we have today and can't do anything about that and neither should we try, at least for the time being?

>> I would expand green mandates to cover not only text, but also data and
>> software.

> Can we wait, please, until they at least cover (journal
> article) text, rather than demanding even more when we don't yet even have
> less?

I can see where this plea comes from, but to me it sounds rather like "can we wait, please, until the architect has designed the southern wall of our house, before asking him to design the north, west and east wall as well?"

Our infrastructure is so bad, if it were a house, it only consists of a single wall with a locked glass door: we can look inside, but are not allowed in. Once we get the keys, we can go inside, but realize that the other walls and the roof are missing, leaving the contents open to the weather and, hence, decay. Asking for the key first makes sense, but risks the content as it leaves it unprotected.

We have the wherewithal to do it right in a way such that mandates will not be needed any more when we're done. The plan does not interfere with current mandates, on the contrary, it will complement current mandates by providing an infrastructure that will yield time and effort back to researchers (rather than demanding time and effort from them as current mandates do), by offering them support, rather than demanding extra work. "We will take care of your data and software mandates for you!" is what institutes will say once we have that infrastructure.

>> if they don't interoperate and only cover text and not
>> software and data, they are as good as useless.

> OA to peer-reviewed journals articles may be useless to
> you, Bjoern, but not to those who are denied access to
> them when they need them. (The OA Button launched a couple
> of days ago at Berlin 11 gives a sample of the number of
> access-denied users for which OA to journal articles is not so useless…)

I wrote: 'as good as useless'. This is meant relative to OA to just text.

Thus, if just text is useful, integrated OA infrastructure for software, data and text is infinitely more useful.

Or, conversely, relative to the usefulness of an integrated OA infrastructure for software, data and text, OA to text alone is as good as useless.

> I don't know about the legality of this harvesting, but I
> am pretty sure that publishers that have been feverishly
> opposing and embargoing Green OA and Green OA mandates
> would not hesitate to go after a 3rd-party
> service-provider providing access to their proprietary
> content where and when it has not been made OA by its author.

All I would to do is similar to what, e.g., PMC offers:


These are most of my articles, none of them I put at PMC, some of them I made OA and some of them I had no idea they were OA.

Only it would be on a vastly more comprehensive scale.

In other words, at first, only provide access to articles that are obviously legal. One can discuss the legality and risks of any further steps later, once the ball got rolling.

If my articles are in any way representative, we should be able to cover a large section of the literature like this, probably a vast majority.

> The only one who can provide OA to subscription journal
> content besides the publisher (Gold OA) is the author
> (Green OA). Anything else, provided by a 3rd party today,
> is (according to laws with which I do not agree but which
> are here today) considered piracy today, and prosecutable. 

Oh, I didn't realize what PMC does (see above) is illegal! If that's the case, this would really be a problem.
I can assure you, from the 11 articles on this page above, I'm only aware of 5 being OA, the other 6 I had no idea. 

So providing access to these 6 articles of mine is illegal? This would indeed be a major obstacle.

> It would help if suggested solutions stuck to reality,
> rather than diverting attention from tried and tested
> solutions that work (but have not yet been widely enough
> adopted) to fantasy solutions that only make sense in one's imagination.

I had no idea that PMC was not only illegal, but also a fantasy. 

> In the real world, you are saying something along the
> same lines as what you've already said in support of an
> unlikely ally (librarian Rick Anderson) who proposed
> cancelling journals that have a higher proportion of Green
> OA. That will be an encouraging reward to journals that do
> not embargo Green OA, and a useful service to users who
> can no longer have subscription access to the balance of such journals' content.

No, I'm not saying we should cut subscriptions from green OA supporting publishers.

I'm saying we should cut the subscriptions that will free the most money, regardless of anything else.

The target is the money, interim access is provided by a harvested database.

For simplicity, let's say 30% cuts lead to a drop in access of 30% of the articles. Let's say the harvested database covers 50% of that, which means a temporary drop in access of just 15%. In my books, any faculty member not willing to accept that tiny price in return for several hours per week in saved time normally spent dealing with data, software and literature is a fool. Not to mention the evidence-based reputation system we'd get to replace this divining rod which is journal rank.

If faculty are not willing to pay this tiny price, we indeed deserve what's coming.

> Because reform will come (and the finances will be
> released) once Green OA approaches 100% globally, not if
> we nip Green OA in the bud with annulatio praecox when
> we're still nowhere near the target. 

Again, if faculty aren't even willing to accept a temporary 15% drop in access in return for the windfall benefits they receive, we do not deserve any reform whatsoever and ought to bear the consequences.

Why, of all people, would you demand that anything other than 100% OA is insufficient? Why would you let the best (~100%) be the enemy of the better (85%)?

Best wishes,


Björn Brembs
Universität Regensburg

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