Springer Also Losing Some OA Sparkle

Springer_icon_512X512We looked last week at how Emerald (perhaps inspired by the problematic new RCUK open access policy) changed its self-archiving policies, becoming a less sparkling green OA publisher. Alas, Springer also recently changed its self-archiving for the worse (from the perspective of authors and readers), dulling its OA sparkle as a result.

Springer’s new policy says that authors may make the post-refereed versions of their articles available immediately on their personal websites but must wait a year before making them available in repositories. This embargo is nothing new with respect to subject repositories — Springer’s previous policy required a year-long embargo for subject repositories. But it is new for institutional repositories — Springer used to allow articles to appear immediately there. This change to a year-long embargo for institutional repositories makes self-archiving harder and more confusing and thus less likely to be attempted. So that’s bad. And in addition to being a bad change, it’s arguably a nonsensical change.

Consider institutional repositories on the Digital Commons platform. There’s a Digital Commons add-on called SelectedWorks that creates personal homepages for repository contributors. Are they personal webpages? Yes. Are they part of an institutional repository? Yes. So there goes that distinction.

Even for institutional repositories on other platforms, the distinction isn’t so clear. OK, sure, the institutional repository and personal homepages are probably on different servers. But the institutional repository is in some ways just an extension of those homepages, a place that the homepages link to. The School of Electronics and Computer Science of the University of Southampton wisely chose to be explicit about the continuousness of these spaces in its open access policy:

3v. Copyright agreements may state that eprints can be archived on your personal homepage. As far as publishers are concerned, the EPrint Archive is a part of the Department’s infrastructure for your personal homepage.

In short, just like Emerald, Springer wants us to believe that two things are mutually exclusive and incompatible, even though they aren’t. Emerald wants us to believe that voluntary and mandated self-archiving are mutually exclusive, which is obviously untrue. (After all, it’s people who support and practice self-archiving who passed all the mandatory self-archiving policies at universities around the world!) And Springer wants us to believe that personal websites and institutional repositories are mutually exclusive. That might initially sound like a reasonable distinction, but it’s confused. And, of course, confusing.

Curious? Angry? Read more here and here.

The White House Openly Supports Openness

On this, the longest day of the year, I offer a short quote:

“Open sharing of research results is a proven strategy for driving positive change.”  

Yep, a typical line for this blog.  But the line doesn’t come from us — no, it comes from the White House, from a press release about their event honoring 13 “Champions of Change” for open science.  (Among those celebrated is Paul Ginsparg, founder of arXiv.org, an enormously important open access repository for physics, math, computer science, and several other sciences.)

First there was the White House’s open access directive.  Then there was its open data policy. Now it’s honoring open science pioneers and making unambiguous statements in support of openness.  Nice to have you as an ally, White House!

white house open science

(Photo credit: rmouncehttp://www.flickr.com/photos/79472036@N07/8719095952/)

Emerald Not So Sparkling Green

Emerald 21x30mm spot

If your field is management, economics, healthcare, education, or library science, chances are you’re familiar with the journal publisher Emerald.  For a long time, true to its name, Emerald was a “green” open access publisher — that is, it allowed authors to immediately make their articles open access by self-archiving them in an online repository.  A shining, sparkling example of greenness.

But Emerald has changed its policy.  Now, if self-archiving is “voluntary,” authors may immediately self-archive their articles on their personal websites or ininstitutional repositories (but not, notably, in subject repositories).  But if authors are subject to a mandatory open access policy, they may not self-archive immediately — they must wait 24 months!  Sparkling emerald green no more, Emerald! (Read more here: Open Access: Emerald’s Green starts to fade?)

Is it not possible that someone affected by a mandatory open access policy is also a supporter of open access and thus a voluntary self-archiver?  Since when are individual interest in open access and institutional interest in open access incompatible?

Apparently, since the Research Councils UK released its new open access policy, which favors gold open access (that is, articles made open access by the publisher itself — often contingent on paying a fee) so strongly that it incentivizes publishers to add or extend embargoes on green open access.  (Read more about the flawed RCUK policy.)

Emerald is not the first publisher to try to make a distinction between “voluntary” and “mandated” self-archiving.  Elsevier has tried the “self-archive if you wish but not if you must” trick too: Some Quaint Elsevier Tergiversation on Rights Retention.

Nice try (and by “try” I mean “desperate attempt to forestall the inevitable”), publishers, but nope.  No matter who my employer is and no matter what agencies fund my research, I will always voluntarily make my work open access!