[OAI-eprints] Re: Central vs. Distributed Archives

Stevan Harnad harnad at ecs.soton.ac.uk
Sat Nov 15 17:01:41 EST 2003

>   PubMed Central will host individual OA articles   
>   PubMed Central http://www.pubmedcentral.gov/index.html
>   has launched an About Open Access page
>   http://www.pubmedcentral.gov/about/openaccess.html drawing attention
>   to the journals that provide open access to their contents through
>   PMC. The page also announces an important new policy: "[I]n October
>   2003, PMC began accepting individual open access articles from
>   journals that do not participate in PMC on a routine basis. For
>   the specific conditions under which PMC accepts these articles,
>   see the relevant PMC agreement (in Microsoft Word format)
>   http://www.pubmedcentral.gov/pmcdoc/pmc-openaccs-agree.doc
>   ." The offer is open to all authors in the life sciences
>   willing to release their work to "open access" as
>   defined by the Bethesda Statement on Open Access Publishing
>   http://www.earlham.edu/~peters/fos/bethesda.htm. (Thanks to George
>   Porter.) Posted to Open Access News 12 November 2003 by Peter Suber

    Relevant Prior Subject Threads:

    "E-Biomed: Very important NIH Proposal"

    "NIH's Public Archive for the Refereed Literature: PUBMED CENTRAL"

Just two comments:

(1) More central open-access archives in which authors can self-archive
their articles are always welcome and helpful (especially if they are
OAI-interoperable) and it is gratifying to see what was originally the
E-Biomed proposal -- which at first unfortunately backed away from
individual author self-archiving of toll-access journal articles --
now ready to accept author self-archiving at last!

It has to be added, though, that since 1999, with the advent
of distributed eprint archiving, integrated by the glue of
OAI-interoperability http://www.openarchives.org/ , it has become
apparent that institutional self-archiving is a more promising route
than central self-archiving, because researchers and their instutions
share the benefits of maximizing the impact of their own research output,
and share the costs of impact-loss because of toll-based access-denial
to would-be users everywhere. Institutions also wield the carrot/stick
of "publish or perish" over their own researchers and are hence
in the position to mandate and monitor compliance with their own
self-archiving policy. Central archives share no such common costs/benefits
with researchers, and are not in a position to mandate self-archiving
or to monitor compliance.

(2) The Bethesda statement on open access publishing
is indeed a statement on open-access *publishing* and not on *open access,*
i.e., only on the golden and not the green (self-archiving) road to open access.

It is a potentially useful document, but only if this one-sidedness
is conscientiously and decisively remedied, for as it stands, the
Bethesda Statement is simply missing out on 95% of the immediate
potential for open access. (In addition, the Bethesda definition of
"open" is over-determined, again because of its one-sided focus on
open-access journal publishingalone. All that research
and researchers need is free online full-text access to
all research; the rest comes automatically with the online
territory: See the subject-thread: "Free Access vs. Open Access"
http://www.ecs.soton.ac.uk/~harnad/Hypermail/Amsci/2956.html )


Stevan Harnad

NOTE: Complete archive of the ongoing discussion of providing open
access to the peer-reviewed research literature online is available at
the American Scientist September Forum (98 & 99 & 00 & 01 & 02 & 03):
    Posted discussion to: september98-forum at amsci-forum.amsci.org 

Dual Open-Access Strategy:
    BOAI-2 ("gold"): Publish your article in a suitable open-access
            journal whenever one exists.
    BOAI-1 ("green"): Otherwise, publish your article in a suitable
            toll-access journal and also self-archive it.

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