Open Access (the book)
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- On this page I'll post updates, supplements, and other notes on my book, Open Access, MIT Press, 2012. — Peter Suber.
- Suggested short URL for this page = http://bit.ly/oa-book
About the book
- Peter Suber, Open Access, MIT Press, June 2012.
- The paperback and several digital editions are now available.
- Among other places, the book is available from MIT Press, Amazon (paperback and Kindle editions), Barnes and Noble (paperback and Nook editions), Google Play (mobile ePub, PDF, Adobe eBook, and other formats), iTunes (formatted for iOS devices), and the sources listed here and here.
- The whole book will become OA in June 2013, one year from the date of publication. If you can't wait that long, everything I've said in the book I've said in some form or another in an OA article, probably more than once.
- MIT Press is already providing OA to the Table of Contents, Series Forward, Preface, and Chapter 1 ("What Is Open Access?"). The URLs for these OA sections changed in October 2012.
- For a review copy, send your request directly to MIT Press, and indicate the publication or site for which the review is intended.
- I plan to launch some kind of site, other than this page, where I can gather and respond to reader comments. I welcome suggestions about the best way to do that.
- Rob Harle, Open Access by Peter Suber (MIT Press 2012), Leonardo Reviews, August 2, 2012. "This is a very important book, which, I suggest, is a must read for all scholars and researchers who publish their own work or consult the peer-reviewed published work of others ––in other words, virtually all academics...."
- Louis Kirby, Open Access: Peter Suber's new book, ZettaScience, September 6, 2012. "It comes down to this. I am a taxpayer and a physician. It makes me madder than Hell to have to pay $35.00 to read a single PDF of a journal article when my tax dollars already paid for the research....Peter Suber’s book is terrific. It is short and easily readable in a couple of sittings. That said, he is very thorough and clear at explaining what Open Access is, and why it benefits both the author, the research enterprise and society...."
- John Dupuis, Reading Diary: Open Access by Peter Suber, Confessions of a Science Librarian, September 26, 2012. "Peter Suber’s... Open Access is an important book. You should read it, you should buy (or recommend) a copy for your library. You should buy a hundred boxes and give a copy to every faculty member at your institution. And not just because it’s a blazingly wonderful book — although it mostly is — but because it’s a book that sets the stage for an intelligent, rational, fact-based discussion on the future of scholarly publishing...."
- Elliott Smith, Open Access, Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship, Fall 2012. "Suber provides clear and concise explanations....Given the recent attempts in Congress to rescind the NIH Public Access Policy, Open Access should be of interest to a broad audience. It is particularly relevant to faculty and administrators at research institutions...."
- Wm. Joseph Thomas, Review of Peter Suber, Open Access, Against the Grain, November 2012, p. 40. "Suber makes the point eloquently that all key players involved in vetting research -- authors, editors, and peer reviewers -- can consent to OA without losing revenue. Not only that, Suber makes the case that distributing research freely is a public gift with both direct and indirect benefits to all....If the readers of Suber's book will take action on providing access to knowledge as a 'public good,' we can indeed complete the 'peaceful revolution' that Suber envisions."
- T.M. Owen, Open Access by Peter Suber, Choice, February 2013, vol. 50, No. 06, p. 216. "Drawing extensively on his previous online writings, world-renowned open access (OA) expert Suber...presents a well-written, concise explanation of OA. The book appeals to those with all levels of OA knowledge, from novice to expert, but it is especially beneficial for those unfamiliar with the subject....In ten well-organized chapters, the author defines OA, examines the motivation behind OA, presents options for institutional and funders' policies, confronts copyright issues, explains the economics of OA, and predicts what the future might hold. The extensive notes and references that accompany each chapter enhance the value of this important resource. Open Access should be required reading for everyone involved in the publishing cycle -- from authors to publishers, including librarians and general readers. Everyone who reads this volume will gain a better understanding and appreciation of OA....Summing Up: Essential...."
- Giridhar Madras, Open Access by Peter Suber, Current Science, February 10, 2013. "This book by Peter Suber builds on his excellent work and articles on open access (OA)....This book is clear in its recommendation....On 16 August 2012, Georgia State University distributed copies of Suber’s book to new faculty and administrators on campus....It is high time that Indian institutions follow the [George State] example."
Updates and supplements
- Some of these notes didn't fit into the book. The book is deliberately short and I was already over my wordcount. Others were too late to put in the book. They cite publications or developments that hadn't occurred by the time my text was final in the spring of 2011.
- I'll keep adding updates and supplements as I find time.
- For now, I'm taking advantage of the digital medium by linking from words and phrases, not imitating the format of printed endnotes by spelling out URLs.
- The first print edition uses an "all rights reserved" statement and a CC-BY license icon. The digital editions clarify the book's copyright status, and the clarification will appear in future print editions. Basically, the book incorporates some material I previously published in the SPARC Open Access Newsletter under a CC-BY license and a copyright owned by SPARC. That material remains CC-BY. The all-rights-reserved copyright owned by MIT applies only to new parts of the book, and even those parts will shift to a CC-BY-NC license on June 15, 2013, one year from the date of publication.
- Note that MIT Press already provides OA to the Preface.
Chapter 1: What is Open Access?
- Note that MIT Press already provides OA to Chapter 1.
- At p. 5, I say, "Even...authors [who don't sell their work and want to share it as widely as possible]...tend to transfer their copyrights to intermediaries --publishers-- who want to sell their work. As a result, users may be hampered in their research by barriers erected to serve intermediaries rather than authors." Add this note.
- At p. 7, I introduce the Budapest Open Access Initiative and its definition of OA. Add this note.
- At p. 21, I say, "OA would benefit from the right kinds of copyright reforms...." Add these notes.
- Idea #6 above has been proposed several times in Germany, for example in 2006 (from Gerd Hansen), in 2008 (from the German federal government), in 2011 (from the Social Democratic Party), and in 2013 (from the German federal government).
- For some reform recommendations that would re-balance copyright law, or correct some of its excesses, but without aiming to optimize copyright law for OA, see:
- Giancarlo F. Frosio et al., COMMUNIA policy recommendations, COMMUNIA, March 31, 2011.
Chapter 2: Motivation
- At p. 30, endnote 5 (note text at p. 182). Here I'm documenting the assertion that "cumulative price increases...forced the Harvard Library to undertake 'serious cancellation efforts' for budgetary reasons." In the current note, I cite two sources. Here are seven, including the original two, in chronological order.
- At pp. 30-32, I say, "Several sub-Saharan African university libraries subscribed to zero [subscription-based scholarly journals in 2008], offering their patrons access to no conventional journals except those donated by publishers." Add this note.
- At p. 37, I say, "Publishers argue that they add value to the submitted manuscripts, which is true. But other players in the game, such as authors, editors, and referees, add far more value than publishers." Add these notes.
- Also see my article, Balancing author and publisher rights, SPARC Open Access Newsletter, June 2, 2007: In a position paper by the ALPSP (Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers), AAP/PSP (Association of American Publishers / Professional/Scholarly Publishing), and STM (International Association of Scientific, Technical & Medical Publishers), "publishers are arguing that because they add value to the publication, they deserve exclusive rights in it....This is neither balanced nor good for research. Publishers do add value, primarily the organization of expert volunteers who provide peer review. But no matter how many other forms of publisher-added value we recognize, and no matter how we estimate their overall benefits, there's no doubt that publishers add *less* value to the final product than authors, who do the research and writing, and funders, who pay for the original research....There are two main reasons why we find ourselves in the odd situation in which publishers get to control access even though they add less value than authors or funders. The first is that publishers demand compensation for their services, while authors and funders do not. The second is that publishers believe the only way to be compensated is to control access and charge for it. This is their business model from the age of print, when it was physically impossible to make perfect copies for a worldwide audience at zero marginal cost. Their business model depends on scarcity, which for digital texts in a networked world is always artificial scarcity. Publishers are not appealing to the principle that adding value carries the right to control access. If they were, then all contributors who added value would have to share control. Nor are they appealing to the principle that the right to control access belongs to the contributor who adds the greatest value. If they were, they'd have to make a serious argument that their contribution is more valuable than the author's or funder's. They are demanding the right to control access because they need compensation for their services and choose a business model that depends on access barriers and artificial scarcity. Even if we don't think this situation is perverse and cries out for change, at least we should notice that their position is not about balance. It's about what publishers need or want, regardless of what authors need or want. Am I saying that publishers should join authors and funders in working without direct monetary compensation? Not at all. Publishers deserve to be paid for the value they add. But it doesn't follow that they deserve to control access...."
- At p. 40, I say, "Laid on top of this natural monopoly are several layers of artificial monopoly." Add these notes.
- In the wake of Reed Elsevier's 2001 acquisition of Harcourt, the UK Office of Fair Trading (OFT) investigated anti-competitive practices in the academic journal publishing industry. In September 2002 it issued its report, The market for scientific, technical and medical journals. In Chapter 5, the report lists "evidence that the market may not be working well", including hyperinflationary price increases (Section 5.1), higher prices at large for-profit publishers than small non-profit publishers (5.2 - 5.5), use of high-profit journals to subsidize low-profit journals (5.7), higher profit margins in STM fields than in other fields (5.9 - 5.11), and bundling (5.12 - 5.13). In Chapter 7, the OFT admits that the "evidence...gives cause for concern" but explains why it is reluctant to intervene. One reason is that although publisher price increases are hyperinflationary, "a point may have been reached where it is in the interests of publishers, as well as customers, the level of price increases to be reduced" (7.2). Another reason, ironically, the rise of the open-access movement (7.4 - 7.7). The report concludes that, "However, if competition fails to improve, or should additional significant information come to light, we may consider further action." Also see the OFT press release for the report. Prices have continued to rise faster than inflation since the report came out, but the OFT has not acted.
- At p. 40, I say, "[L]arge commercial publishers charge higher prices and raise their prices faster than small, nonprofit [TA] publishers. Yet, the scholarly consensus is that quality, impact, and prestige are generally higher at the nonprofit society journals." Endnote 15 (note text at pp. 184-185) documents the claims about quality, impact, and prestige. Here I want to elaborate in a slightly different direction.
- At pp. 40-41, I describe the sense in which librarians are more attuned to the journal pricing crisis than faculty. Add this note.
Chapter 3: Varieties
- At p. 50, I say, "Also like conventional journals, most [OA journals] are honest and some are scams." Add these notes.
- See my article, Ten challenges for open-access journals, SPARC Open Access Newsletter, October 2, 2009, especially Section 6, "Doubts about honesty": "Are OA journals a scam? Are fee-based OA journals a scam? Are some fee-based OA journals scams? Do some observers believe that some fee-based OA journals are scams? Does this belief harm OA journals as a class? Although you edit or publish OA journals yourself, you probably gave one, two, or three "yes" answers to these five questions. That's the challenge....The challenge behind this challenge is that we rarely have more than grounds for suspicion. We'll often have doubts about our doubts about a journal's honesty. In my own mind, it's important to leave space to distinguish a scam from a clumsy start-up. An entirely honest but clumsy start-up might announce titles far in advance of their content and forget to disclose the editors or owners. My recommendation is two-sided. On the one hand, don't be the last to criticize dishonest practices and low standards. The longer you hesitate, the more it appears that you will overlook a journal's vices as long as it is OA....On the other hand, don't create a hostile or unwelcoming environment for new start-ups....The OASPA code of conduct is a beacon here. Not only does it say the right things: disclose your peer review process, your contact info, your fees, and don't spam. It is the voice of OA publishers themselves, not critics of OA publishers. It shows that OA publishers are willing to articulate these norms and willing to enforce them. It's public self-regulation. It's available for supporters, critics, and start-ups to consult it as an emerging standard....[T]he Davis/Anderson hoax from June 2009...made all OA journals look bad....You might quarrel with the word "all". Not all OA journals charge publication fees. Not all OA journals that do charge fees take the money and fail to deliver honest peer review, or even a cursory human glance. True and true. The actual number of journals like TOISCIJ [The Open Information Science Journal] is very small. But most people who hear about the Davis/Anderson hoax don't understand the distinctions among OA journals, just as most people who heard about the 1996 Sokal hoax didn't understand the distinctions among cultural studies journals or even among humanities journals. Jumping to the conclusion that the problem lies with OA as such or publication fees as such is not justified and not fair. But that's the challenge. By contrast, TA journal scams –-like the nine fake journals published by Elsevier–- seldom trigger generalizations about the faults of TA journals as such. From long familiarity, most academics have learned to discriminate among TA journals. But most are still learning to discriminate among OA journals."
- At p. 50, endnote 2 (note text at p. 187). Here I'm documenting the assertion that "The number of high-quality, high-impact OA journals has only grown" since the Thomson Scientific study in 2004.
- At p. 50, I say, "Like conventional publishers, there are a few large OA publishers and a long tail of small ones...." Add these notes.
- At p. 52-53: For clarity, read the terminology box on p. 53 before starting Section 3.1 on p. 52.
- At pp. 54-55, I say, "One of the early victories of the OA movement was to get a majority of toll-access publishers and journals to give blanket permission for author-initiated green OA. But this victory remains one of the best-kept secrets of scholarly publishing, and widespread ignorance of it is the single most harmful consequence of green OA's invisibility." Add this note.
- At p. 55, I refer to the "invisibility" of green OA. Add these notes on the general invisibility of green OA compared to gold OA (in chronological order).
- At p. 55, I say, "If there are no prestigious OA journals in your field today, you could wait (things are changing fast), you could help out (by submitting your best work), or you could move on to green." Add this note.
- At p. 57, I say, "[S]cholars who regularly read research in a...disciplinary repository, such as arXiv for physics or PubMed Central for medicine, readily grasp the rationale for depositing their work in OA repositories...." Add this note.
- At p. 58, I refer to the fear that self-archiving is time-consuming. But there is evidence to answer these fears. Add these notes.
- At p. 65, I conclude my argument that we should pursue green and gold OA simultaneously. Add these notes.
- At p. 69, I recommend CC-BY licenses for OA research, and mention some other organizations and initiatives that do so as well. Add this note.
- At pp. 72-73, I point out that most OA journals fail to offer libre OA. Add these notes.
- At p. 73, I discuss the tactical mistakes of demanding "libre or nothing" when libre may be unattainable, and settling for gratis OA when libre is attainable. Add this note.
Chapter 4: Policies
- At p. 78, I start discussing OA policies at universities and funding agencies. Add this note.
- At p. 78, I say that about one-quarter of peer-reviewed journals are OA. Here add an update and a note.
- Update: By the time the book came out, the fraction was closer to one-third. In the book, I used the common industry estimate that there are about 25,000 peer-reviewed scholarly journals in all fields and languages. As of July 28, 2012, the Directory of Open Access Journals listed 8,000 peer-reviewed OA journals. Using the original estimate for the total number of peer-reviewed OA journals, this means that 32% of the total were OA in July 2012.
- Note: It's very difficult to get an accurate number for the total number of peer-reviewed journals in all fields and languages. 25k is still the most commonly used industry estimate. However, even limiting the count to titles indexed in Ulrich's, the number is now closer to 28k. See the discussion thread on this question at LibLicense in August 2012. (If we use 28k as the total number of peer-reviewed journals, then in July 2012, 28% were OA.) Moreover, there are reasons to think the Ulrich list is itself incomplete. See for example Jack Meadows, "The Growth of Journal Literature: A Historical perspective," in Blaise Cronin and Helen Barsky Atkins (eds.), The Web of Science. A Festschrift in Honor of Eugene Garfield, ASIS&T Monograph Series, 2000, pp. 87-107. In 1987, Meadows estimated that there were 71k peer-reviewed journals worldwide. (Thanks to Jean-Claude Guédon for the reference to Meadows.)
- At p. 79, I say that there are no gold OA mandates. But several have been proposed.
- At p. 80, I start discussing rights-retention mandates. It should be clear from the text, and from many of my previous writings, that this is the model I favor. I reiterated and elaborated my position in October 2012 when Stuart Shieber and I released the first version of our guide to Good practices for university open-access policies. The guide distinguishes six kinds of policy, unlike the book which only distinguishes four. It explicitly recommends rights-retention policies with waiver options, and explains why that model is preferable to other models.
- At p. 81, endnote 7 (note text at pp. 194). At the end of this note, I cite Frankel and Nestor's 2010 legal analysis showing that Harvard-style rights-retention policies successfully avoid copyright problems.
- At p. 84, line 13. Correction. "...journal are..." should be "...journals are...."
- At p. 86, endnote 12 (note text at pp. 195-196).
- At p. 89, endnote 16 (note text at pp. 196-197). Here I'm documenting the claim that "Alma Swan's empirical studies of researcher attitudes show that an overwhelming majority of researchers would 'willingly' comply with a mandatory OA policy from their funder or employer." Add a note.
- At p. 93 endnote 20 (note text at pp. 197-199). Here I list some examples of libre green OA. I list and discuss many more in The rise of libre open access, SPARC Open Access Newsletter, June 2, 2012.
- At pp. 94-95, I argue that policy-makers should watch for the moment when they could strengthen green gratis OA policies into green libre policies. Add this note.
Chapter 5: Scope
- At p. 97, I say that OA "is not limited to publicly-funded research, where the argument is almost universally accepted, but includes privately funded and unfunded research." Add these notes.
- At p. 105, endnote 4 (note text at pp. 199-200). Here I'm citing research showing that "[w]hile...fears [that making a thesis or dissertation OA will reduce the odds that a journal will publish an article length version] are sometimes justified, the evidence suggests that in most cases they are not." Add these notes.
- At pp. 114-15, I say, "We need access to medical or physical research before we can use it to tackle a cure for malaria or devise a more efficient solar panel." If I were writing the book today, I'd add a section on unmet demand for access by research-based business, industry, and manufacturing. This material doesn't belong in Section 5.5.1, on access for lay readers, because those who need access in these businesses are not lay readers but research professionals. And most of the rest of the book focuses on research professionals in the academic world, not research professionals in the non-academic world. But for now, I'll use this passage at pp. 114-115 as the hook for adding updates and supplements on research-based business, industry, and manufacturing. Add these notes.
- At p. 117, endnote 17 (note text at p. 204). Here I'm citing research showing demand among lay readers for access to cutting-edge medical research. Add this note.
- At pp. 120-123 (and in notes 22-25 at pp. 205-206), I argue that we should want OA for our machines as much as we want OA for ourselves. Add this note.
Chapter 6: Copyright
- At p. 128, I argue that the OA policy at the NIH does not violate copyright. Add this note.
- At p. 128, line 22. Correction. "One of practical..." should be "One of the practical...."
Chapter 7: Economics
- At p. 133, endnote 2 (note text at pp. 207-208). Here I cite studies showing that the economic benefits of OA exceed the costs. Add these notes.
- At p. 134, endnote 3 (note text at 208), I cite a study showing that green and gold OA both have high benefit-cost ratios, and that the infrastructure for green OA "has largely already been built." For evidence that green OA costs less than gold OA, and that green OA policies are more cost-effective than gold OA policies, see the following.
- At pp. 134-136 I discuss the "widely varying estimates in the literature on what it costs a university to run an institutional repository." Also see Chapter 7, endnote 4 (note call at p. 136, note text at pp. 208-209). Add this note.
- At p. 136, I introduce the distinction between fee-based and no-fee OA journals. Add this note.
- At p. 139, I say, "Moreover, even within the minority of fee-based OA journals, only 12 percent of those authors end paying the fees out of pocket. Almost 90% of the time, the fees at the fee-based journals are waived or paid by sponsors on behalf of authors." Here I call note 8 (note text at p. 209-210). In that note I cite Suenje Dallmeier-Tiessen et al., Highlights from the SOAP project survey. What Scientists Think about Open Access Publishing, arXiv, January 29, 2011, Table 4. But I should have included these details from Table 4. Publication fees were paid by the author's funder 59%, by the author's institution 24%, and by the author out of pocket 12%. Also add these new notes.
- At p. 143, line 11. Correction. "...alone is has..." should be "...alone has...."
- At p. 143, I say, "There are reasons to think that OA journals cost less to produce than toll-access journals of the same quality...." At pp. 143-144, I spell out some of those reasons, and in note 16 (note call at p. 144, note text at p. 213), I cite several studies in support of this proposition. Add these notes.
- At p. 145, lines 8-9. Correction. "...redirect money we're currently spending on peer-reviewed journals." should be "...redirect money we're currently spending on peer-reviewed toll-access journals."
- At p. 145, I mention a few benefits that OA brings even to conventional publishers: "increased readership, citations, submissions, and quality." Add these notes.
Chapter 8: Casualties
- At p. 151, endnote 2 (note text at p. 215). For "Alma Swan's interview with the APS and IOP in which 'both societies said they could not identify any losses of subscriptions' due to OA archiving", please replace http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/11006/, which is no longer valid, with http://cogprints.org/4406/.
- At p. 152, endnote 4 (note text at pp. 215-216). Here I'm documenting the assertion that, "At Congressional hearings in 2008 and 2010, legislators asked publishers directly whether green OA was triggering cancellations. In both cases publishers pointed to decreased downloads but not to increased cancellations." Add these notes.
- At p. 154, I start a section entitled, "Most [conventional] publishers voluntarily permit green OA." Add this note.
- At p. 157, I start a subsection entitled, "Some studies bear on the question of whether increased OA archiving [green OA] will increase journal cancellations." Add these notes.
- Also see the supplement at p. 152 above.
- At p. 158, endnote 9 (note text at p. 216). Correction. The URL I cite for this ALPSP report is now dead, and the ALPSP provides no redirect. Here's a new URL: http://www.alpsp.org/Ebusiness/ProductCatalog/Product.aspx?ID=26.
- At p. 158, endnote 10 (note text at p. 216). Correction. The URL I cite for Jonathan Weitzman's article is now dead. Here's a new URL: http://web.archive.org/web/20040228064824/http://www.biomedcentral.com/openaccess/archive/?page=features&issue=6.
- At pp. 160-161, I say, "If publishers acknowledge that gold OA can be sustainable, and even profitable, and merely wish to avoid making lower margins than they make today, then their objection takes on a very different color. They're not at risk of insolvency, just reduced profits, and they're not asserting a need for self-protection, just an entitlement to current levels of profit. There's no reason for public funding agencies acting in the public interest, or private funders acting for charitable purposes, to compromise their missions in order to satisfy this sense of publisher entitlement." Add this note:
- At p. 161, I say, "Even if green OA does eventually threaten toll-access journal subscriptions, green OA policies are still justified." Add these notes.
Chapter 9: Future
- At p. 165, I say, "Time itself has reduced the panic-induced misunderstandings of OA." Add this note.
Chapter 10: Self-Help
- I restated many of the points from this chapter in a public talk at the Berkman Center, October 23, 2012. See the online handout I wrote to accompany the talk, How to make your own work open access. The handout includes active links and I update it as needed.
- At p. 170, I say, "[A]bout 30 percent of OA journals charge author-side fees and about half the articles published in OA journals appear in those fee-based journals." Add these notes.
- Add new entry: Students, 73, 174. See also Theses and dissertations.
- Add new entry: Terry, Sharon, 204-205
- Toll-access (or conventional) journals and publishers.
- Add new sub-entry: Right to refuse to publish any work for any reason, 126-128
- Add new entry: Translation, 27, 74