Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Open Access and the Research Excellence Framework: Strange bedfellows yoked together by HEFCE

When the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) announced its open access policy last March the news was greeted with great enthusiasm by OA advocates, who view it as a “game changer” that will ensure all UK research becomes freely available on the Internet. They were especially happy that HEFCE has opted for a green OA policy, believing that this will provide an essential green component to the UK’s “otherwise one-sided gold OA policy”. The HEFCE policy will come into effect on 1st April 2016, but how successful can we expect it to be, and what are the implications of linking open access to the much criticised Research Excellence Framework (REF) in the way HEFCE has done? These are, after all, strange bedfellows. Might there be better ways of ensuring that research is made open access?
 
Yoked together
What OA advocates particularly like about the HEFCE policy is that in order to comply researchers will not have to find the money needed to pay to publish in gold OA journals (as they are asked to do with the OA policy introduced by Research Councils UK in 2013). Rather, the HEFE policy states that only those papers that have been deposited in an open repository (on acceptance) can be submitted to REF2020, and that it is agnostic on whether researchers opt for green or gold.

HEFCE assumes that since no UK academic will want to risk not being submitted to the REF, they will ensure that copies of all their peer-reviewed papers and conference proceedings are made freely available on the Internet, regardless of whether they publish in OA or subscription journals. Not being submitted to the REF can have serious consequences for a researcher’s career.

Will HEFCE’s assumption prove right? At the time it announced its policy the funder cited some research implying that compliance levels will be very high. As it put it, “Our analysis of a sample of journal articles and conference proceedings submitted to the current REF shows that authors could have achieved 96 per cent compliance with the access requirements in this policy, had the policy been in place for REF2014. The remaining 4 per cent of outputs would have remained eligible for submission to the REF as exceptions.”

Does this mean that we can anticipate that 96% of journal articles and conference papers produced by UK researchers will become freely available on the Internet? I explore this and other issues in the PDF file linked below.

Some of the points I make are as follows:

·         There are a number of reasons to believe that the HEFCE policy will not make as much UK research freely available as OA advocates anticipate, not least because the number of researchers submitted to the REF is surprisingly low. In addition, the excessively punitive nature of the REF may be likely to alienate researchers from open access more than endear them to it.

·         By tying open access compliance to the REF, HEFCE has opened the door for university administrators to appropriate OA for their own ends. As such, the HEFCE policy can be expected to increase the bureaucratic scrutiny that UK researchers are subjected to, and encourage ever greater micromanagement. This is likely to further alienate researchers from open access.

·         Between them the RCUK and HEFCE policies look set to be extremely costly to manage and police. This will inevitably see money that would otherwise be used to do research and hire new researchers siphoned away to pay administrators, and to cover management overheads.

·         As things stand, historians of the open access movement may be inclined to conclude that UK OA advocates made a strategic error in seeking to co-opt government to their cause, overlooking the fact that government has its own agenda, and so would inevitably seek to capture and mould open access to fit that agenda.

·         Specifically, the HEFCE policy needs to be seen in the context of the UK government’s neoliberal agenda, an agenda that has become increasingly focused on commodifying higher education, and now seems intent on encouraging excessive commodification of the research produced in universities as well.

·         Meanwhile gold open access is being appropriated by publishers, with the apparent blessing of the UK government. As a result, publishers are migrating their journals to an open access environment on their own terms, and in a way that locks their current profit levels into the OA environment, even though those profits are universally held to be unacceptably high.

·         OA advocates have always argued that open access is inevitable and optimal. If that is right, then the issue is not whether open access will become a reality, but how and when it will. So the key question is this: how does one create a culture in which openness is viewed as the norm? Is it better to try and win hearts and minds by engaging people in a debate about open access, telling them about the benefits, and creating incentives to encourage them to embrace it? Or is it better to try and force them to embrace it by tying it to punitive regimes that end up excluding the majority, and micro-managing everyone to a standstill.

·         Green OA advocates insist that compulsory policies are essential, since they are the only way of getting OA repositories filled. As such, the HEFCE policy is modelled on the much-celebrated OA policy introduced in 2007 at the University of Liège. This was the first policy to make deposit in an institutional repository a requirement for researcher evaluation.But was it the right model for a UK funder like HEFCE?

·         An important issue with the HEFCE policy is that the principles inherent to the OA movement are those of sharing and egalitarianism. By contrast the REF is built on the principles of exclusion, elitism and punishment. These are strange bedfellows, and we need to wonder how the elitism of the REF can be viewed as compatible with the idealism of open access.

·         Is compulsion really essential? There is, after all, an alternative green OA model — the so-called Harvard model. This is a voluntary approach. It is worth noting that although Harvard’s repository (DASH) does not currently boast as many deposits as the University of Liège’s ORBi repository, it is nevertheless growing at an exponential rate, and it experienced twice as many downloads as ORBi last year. Is not the ultimate test of a successful repository the number of downloads, not the number of uploads?

·         OA advocates would rightly argue that there is a limit to what a comparison of just two OA repositories can tell us. After all, they might say, there is no shortage of universities with weak OA policies and empty repositories. While this is true, it points to the fact that open access advocates in those institutions have failed to make the case for OA to their peers. It is for this reason that they have turned to funders and governments to force OA on their colleagues. This could turn out to be a dangerous game to play.

·         Open access advocates can rightly boast today that they are persuading more and more funders and governments to force their peers to embrace OA. But this is not so much a victory for advocacy as a victory for top-down compulsion, and in many cases it is likely to lead to a further erosion of researchers’ rights.

To read the full document please hit the link here [29 page pdf].

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Open Access Interviews: Dr Indrajit Banerjee, Director of UNESCO’s Knowledge Societies Division

The mission of UNESCO, which was founded in 1945, is to “contribute to the building of peace, the eradication of poverty, sustainable development and intercultural dialogue through education, the sciences, culture, communication and information.”
Indrajit Banerjee
An important plank in that mission is a commitment to help build inclusive and equitable knowledge societies. We should not be surprised, therefore, that UNESCO supports the Open Access movement, we should not be surprised that it was the first UN agency to adopt an OA policy, and we should not be surprised that it now makes its own publications Open Access.

Today UNESCO’s OA repository (OAR) provides free access to over 500 of its own books, reports and articles in over 11 languages, and in recent years it has created a number of OA portals, directories, knowledge banks and Open Access indicators.

In actual fact, argues Indrajit Banerjee, a commitment to both openness and to science has been implicit in everything UNESCO has done since it was founded in 1945. Immediately after the Second World War, for instance, it was one of the chief architects of the portion of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights aimed at safeguarding the rights of researchers. Specifically, Article 27 of that declaration asserts that everyone has the right to freely share scientific advancement and its benefits.

Subsequently, in 1974, UNESCO proposed a set of special recommendations concerning the status of science researchers; and in 1999 it organised a World Conference where a declaration on science and the use of scientific knowledge was agreed.

UNESCO’s advocacy for Open Access as such began shortly after the 2003 Budapest Open Access Initiative (BOAI), where the term Open Access was first adopted, and a definition of OA agreed. That year UNESCO had its first high-level success in OA advocacy, when it successfully lobbied for universal access to scientific information and knowledge to be included as one of the Action lines (C3) of the World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) process.

In 2009, UNESCO was requested by its member states to draw up a strategy for Open Access, a strategy approved at UNESCO’s 187th session in 2011. This contains a set of short, medium and long-term action plans (to be achieved within set time frames) to assist governments strengthen the processes for granting irrevocable rights of access to copy, use, distribute, transmit and make derivate works of research outputs in any format, within certain constraints.

The strategy also stresses that UNESCO should place particular emphasis on making publicly-funded scientific information (journal articles, conference papers and datasets of various kinds) freely available.

As a global organisation with 195 member states and 9 associate member states, much of UNESCO’s work takes place at the level of national governments and regions. To that end it regularly convenes high-level meetings in order to educate national governments about the benefits of OA. It also commissions research, reports, and guides on OA (often in partnership with other large organisations like the EU).

Given its broad mission, UNESCO views Open Access not as an end in itself, but as one of a number of important tools that can help achieve its wider objective. The toolkit includes other free and open approaches like Open Data, Open Educational Resources, and Free and Open Source Software, plus tools designed to facilitate and encourage sharing such as Creative Commons licences.

Above all, UNESCO believes that the success of OA depends on effective capacity building. In the context of OA this implies facilitating “a set of activities to improve awareness, knowledge, skills and processes relevant to the design, development and maintenance of institutional and operational infrastructures and other processes for implementing Open Access”.

And with its focus on creating inclusive and equitable knowledge societies, UNESCO approaches Open Access from the perspective of human rights and the eradication of poverty, and sees ICTs playing a vital role in achieving its objectives in these areas. Its two global priorities currently are Africa and gender equality. As such, it is determined to ensure that Open Access is implemented in ways likely to help, rather than further marginalise, developing nations, and in a gender neutral way.

In light of all this, as the UN’s Millennium Development Goals give way to the Sustainable Development Goals, UNESCO is keen to embed Open Access into the new goals, viewing OA as a vital tool for achieving them.

Given its international perspective, and its authority, UNESCO also believes that it is ideally suited to oversee a global debate on Open Access, a debate that — in light of the growing danger that Open Access could end up excluding rather than including the developing world — is now pressing. To this end, UNESCO hopes to organise the first international congress on OA.

To get a better sense of UNESCO’s interest in, and work on, OA, and what it feels to be the key issues going forward, I sent seven questions to the director of UNESCO’s Knowledge Societies Division Indrajit Banerjee. The answers turned out to be admirably comprehensive, so I list a few choice quotes from Banerjee’s answers below. I urge everyone to read the full text.

UNESCO’s INTEREST AND ROLE IN OPEN ACCESS

·         The primary reason for UNESCO to be involved in Open Access stems from the fact that the organization believes in “Maintaining, increasing and diffusing knowledge by encouraging cooperation among the nations in all branches of intellectual activities”.

·         UNESCO’s role in the global Open Access movement is to foster OA at the highest possible level by continuing to build on the pillar of universal access to information and knowledge to empower local communities by bringing experts together and utilizing its global network of regional and field offices, Institutes and Centres.

·         Guided by the organization’s founding principle that universal access to information is the key to building peace, sustainable economic development and intercultural dialogue, UNESCO must continue to raise awareness, formulate policies and build capacities to promote Openness in content, technology and processes, with particular emphasis on scientific information.

·         In an era where the World Wide Web plays an increasingly vital role in the intellectual development of societies, information digitization has revolutionized the means by which we share knowledge. As the ‘intellectual’ agency of the United Nations, UNESCO has a central and critical role in encouraging the universal sharing of all forms of knowledge in real time to build inclusive Knowledge Societies. This may be through the classical form of dissemination, but more importantly by supporting the Open Access movement enabled through the power of the Internet.

UNESCO’s VIEWS ON CURRENT ISSUES IN OPEN ACCESS

·         We understand that OA publications are underrated because there is a lack of a policy that fully respects the effort behind the publications. There is a serious concern about peer review processes employed by OA journals.

·         There is an increasing concern that although the OA mode of research publication is becoming increasingly popular, it has not positively impacted the ability of researchers from developing countries to publish their research works.

·         The policy issues surrounding OA, adoption of policies (and/or mandates), implementation of policies (and/or mandates), monitoring and evaluation of these policies (and/or mandates) still need to be improved for most countries.

·         Furthermore, in the countries which have formulated and established OA policies/mandates, they have not been able to produce any solid evidence that OA is indeed having a positive impact on knowledge production and dissemination in the country. As the contribution of Open Access to the cost of research saved and the amount of knowledge gained are still not properly evaluated, the condition of “lead-by-example” is lacking.

·         We have also noted that within countries, those who can make a difference still lack a good understanding of OA and therefore do not fully support the OA movement, for fear of job loss and negative impact on its publishing industry.

·         Development, sophistication or understanding of OA is not evenly distributed, by geography or by subject. There is a strong need for the cross-fertilization of ideas and conditions for synergy to be properly discussed and explored in their entirety.

·         As the Global South catches up with the North in terms of scientific output, for instance, it allows for greater innovation in OA, and provides opportunities for developed countries to adopt some of the less costly OA methods that have emerged in developing countries. So, for instance, innovation in Latin America is enabling a lower APC cost base. New models like this could benefit the North.

·         At the same time, innovative methods from the North are being implemented in some developing countries. This cross-fertilisation could be very productive and so we are documenting the processes involved.

UNESCO’s PLANS FOR OPEN ACCESS

·         OA is central to UNESCO’s activities in the future. It is part of our Open Solutions programme and we are convinced that Open Access should be an integral agenda in any effort to create Knowledge Societies.

·         UNESCO must mobilize stakeholders to organize regional consultations and explore the possibility of organizing the first international congress on Open Access to scientific information and research. This international congress should analyse the existing national and international legal framework concerning Open Access and examine the necessity for the elaboration of a new international instrument.

·         UNESCO must also play a role in combining the context of Open Access within the broader understanding of Openness and link it with Open Educational resources (OER); Open Training Platform (OTP) and Free and Open Source Software (FOSS).

·         UNESCO is also concerned about the role that Open Access can play in realizing Post-2015 Development Goals. Dedicated research is currently on going to identify the potential of Open Access within the broader context of SDGs.

·         As a specialized agency of the UN system, UNESCO is playing its part in analyzing the concern about poverty (and other human challenges) and is committed to making Open Access one of the central supporting agendas to achieve the SDGs.

·         Out of 17 goals proposed for the next SDGs, at least 10 goals need constant research inputs. Given that these goals must be achieved globally, there is an absolute need for any restriction to disseminate research outputs to be comprehensively addressed. So in the next 15 years, OA to research will play a fundamental role in supporting efforts to achieve these goals.

·         UNESCO is working with its partners to provide a closer look at the Impact Factor. While the existing bibliometric, scientometric and altmetric approaches are robust, their upstream usage has remained very limited.

·         The extent to which the Knowledge Divide is narrowed, and to which we are able to create societies that are truly Knowledge Societies, will determine the pace of development. OA has the potential to lessen the existing knowledge divide. This gap goes beyond the rifts in mere access to ICT. It refers to the gaps that exist across all the four building blocks of Knowledge Societies, namely: Knowledge Creation; Knowledge Preservation; Knowledge Dissemination; and Use of Knowledge.

·         Opening access to knowledge is thus a fundamental part of the approach that can open and address the many jagged facets of Sustainable Development. OA uses ICTs to increase and enhance dissemination of scholarship. Sustainable Development and the creation of Knowledge Societies therefore are two sides of the same coin. 

·         The theme of inclusive Knowledge Societies continues to be at the heart of UNESCO’s work to fulfil the WSIS objectives. Inclusive Knowledge Societies are societies in which people have ready access to information and communications resources, in languages and formats that suit them, and the skills to interpret and make use of them. The Organization’s future work will thus be to establish the context of OA within the broader framework of inclusive Knowledge Societies. UNESCO will continue to pursue this objective vigorously through its own programmes on OA as well as in partnership with other organizations and UN agencies.

The interview with Dr Indrajit Banerjee is available as a pdf file, and can be accessed HERE

Please note that the text in the pdf file is licensed under CC-BY.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Open Access Interviews: Richard Savory, Jisc Licensing Manager

For the past several decades the research community has been bedevilled with the so-called serials crisis, the phenomenon by which the cost of scholarly journals continues to rise at an unsustainable rate.
Richard Savory

Affordability


One of the most significant responses to this affordability problem was the open access (OA) movement, which in 2002 coalesced around the Budapest Open Access Initiative. Open access publishing, OA advocates have always argued, will be cheaper, and therefore sustainable.

In 2004, confronted by the growing demands of the OA movement, and faced with competition from open access publishers like BioMed Central and PLOS, traditional subscription publishers responded with hybrid OA, which allows authors to continue publishing in subscription journals but, if they wish, to choose to make a particular paper open access by paying an article-processing charge (APC). The first such initiative was Springer’s Open Choice, which at the time the company’s CEO Derk Haank characterised as a challenge to OA advocates to “put their money where their mouth is”.

Since hybrid OA APCs are more expensive than those of pure open access journals (i.e. generally around $3,000 a paper), take up remained low until research funders like the Wellcome Trust and Research Councils UK agreed to start paying APCs for their funded authors.

It was quickly apparent however that, as things stood, hybrid OA could only worsen the affordability problem, since hybrid OA journals now have not one, but two income streams for the same article — one from the article-processing charge, another from the journal subscription, a phenomenon that OA advocates refer to as “double dipping”.

While publishers said that they would reduce the subscription price of hybrid journals to reflect the number of articles in them that had been paid for, what reductions have been made have been derisory. In any case, such an approach means that those who pay for hybrid OA are effectively subsidising those that choose not to embrace open access.

Monday, September 22, 2014

The Open Access Interviews: Dagmara Weckowska, lecturer in Business and Innovation at the University of Sussex

Dagmara Weckowska
As a result of prolonged pressure from the open access (OA) movement — and following considerable controversy within the research community — the UK is now embarked on a journey that OA advocates hope will lead to all publicly-funded research produced in the country being made freely available on the Internet. This, they believe, will be the outcome of two funder mandates that have been introduced.

The Research Councils UK (RCUK) policy — which came into effect on April 1st 2013 — requires that all peer-reviewed papers and conference proceedings (and eventually monographs too it is assumed) arising from research funded by RCUK are made open access, either by researchers paying to publish in open access journals (gold OA), or continuing to publish in the traditional (subscription) manner and then depositing copies of their works in an open access repository (green OA), usually after an embargo period.

The policy of the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) — which will come into effect in 2016 — will require researchers to deposit all their final peer-reviewed manuscripts in an institutional or subject repository as soon after the point of acceptance as possible, “and no later than three months after this date”.

It has taken the OA movement twelve years to get the UK to this point (the Budapest Open Access Initiative was authored in 2002), but advocates believe that these two mandates have now made open access a done deal in the country. As such, they say, they represent a huge win for the movement.

Above all, they argue, HEFCE’s insistence that only those works that have been deposited in an open repository will be eligible for assessment for REF2020 (which directly affects faculty tenure, promotion and funding) is a requirement that no researcher can afford to ignore.

But could this be too optimistic a view? Dagmara Weckowska, a lecturer in Business and Innovation at the University of Sussex, believes it may be. While she does not doubt that the RCUK/HEFCE policies will increase the number of research outputs made open access, she questions whether they will be as effective as OA advocates appear to assume.

Weckowska reached this conclusion after doing some research earlier this year into how researchers’ attitudes to open access have changed as a result of the RCUK policy. This, she says, suggests that open access mandates will only be fully successful if researchers can be convinced of the benefits of open access. As she puts it, “Researchers who currently provide OA only when they are required to do so by their funders will need a change of heart and mind to start providing open access to all their work.”

In addition, she says: “
Under the new HEFCE policy, researchers have incentives to make their best 4 papers accessible through the gold or green OA route (assuming that the REF again requires 4 papers) but they do not have incentives to make ALL their papers openly accessible.

Further complicating matters, Weckowska points out that UK HEIs do not currently know how many research outputs their faculty produce each year, which would suggest that universities will struggle to ensure that faculty comply with the policies.

The conclusion would seem to be, therefore, that UK funders still have some work to do if they want OA to become the default for published research, both in terms of educating researchers about the benefits of open access, and ensuring that adequate compliance mechanisms are put in place.

And judging by a survey undertaken earlier this year by the publisher Taylor & Francis it would appear that there is still an urgent need to educate researchers in the specifics of what the mandates actually require of them. Only 30% of respondents to the T&F survey said they understood the RCUK policy, and many “appeared to be unsure whether the policy applies to them, since over half [55%] were unable to say whether or not their future articles would need to be published in accordance with the policy or not.”

Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Open Access Interviews: Paul Royster, Coordinator of Scholarly Communications, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Paul Royster
Paul Royster is proud of what he has achieved with his institutional repository. Currently, it contains 73,000 full-text items, of which more than 60,000 are freely accessible to the world. This, says Royster, makes it the second largest institutional repository in the US, and it receives around 500,000 downloads per month, with around 30% of those going to international users.

Unsurprisingly, Royster always assumed that he was in the vanguard of the OA movement, and that fellow OA advocates attached considerable value to the work he was doing.

All this changed in 2012, when he attended an open access meeting organised by SPARC (The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) in Kansas City. At that meeting, he says, he was startled to hear SPARC announce to delegates that henceforth the sine qua non of open access is that a work has to be made available with a CC BY licence or equivalent attached.

After the meeting Royster sought to clarify the situation with SPARC, explaining the problems that its insistence on CC BY presented for repository managers like him, since it is generally not possible to make self-archived works available on a CC BY basis (not least because the copyright will invariably have been assigned to a publisher). Unfortunately, he says, his concerns fell on deaf ears.

The only conclusion Royster could reach is that the OA movement no longer views what he is doing as open access. As he puts it, “[O]ur work in promulgating Green OA (which normally does not convey re-use rights) and our free-access publishing under non-exclusive permission-to-publish (i.e., non-CC) agreements was henceforth disqualified.”

If correct, what is striking here is the implication that institutional repositories can no longer claim to be providing open access.

In fact, if one refers to the most frequently cited definitions of open access one discovers that what SPARC told Royster would seem to be in order. Although it was written before the Creative Commons licences were released, for instance, the definition of open access authored by those who launched the Budapest Open Access Initiative (BOAI) in 2001 clearly seems to describe the same terms as those expressed in the CC BY licence.

What this means, of course, is that green OA does not meet the requirements of the BOAI — even though BOAI cited green OA as one of its “complementary strategies” for achieving open access.

Since most of the OA movement’s claimed successes are green successes this is particularly ironic. But given this, is it not pure pedantry to worry about what appears to be a logical inconsistency at the heart of the OA movement? No, not in light of the growing insistence that only CC BY will do. If nothing else, it is alienating some of the movement’s best allies — people like Paul Royster for instance.  

I no longer call or think of myself as an advocate for ‘open access,’ since the specific definition of that term excludes most of what we do in our repository,” says Royster. “I used to think the term meant ‘free to access, download, and store without charge, registration, log-in, etc.,’ but I have been disabused of that notion.”

For that reason, he says, “My current attitude regarding OA is to step away and leave it alone; it does some good, despite what I see as its feet of clay. I am not ‘against’ it, but I don't feel inspired to promote a cause that makes the repositories second-class members.”

How could this strange state of affairs have arisen? And why has it only really become an issue now, over a decade after the BOAI definition was penned? To answer these questions one needs to re-examine the history of the OA movement.

That is what I try to do in the first part of the attached PDF file, where I also attempt to explain why CC BY has become what Royster calls “the shibboleth for the OA in-group”. The second part of the PDF consists of a Q&A with Royster in which he explains in greater detail why he no longer describes himself as an advocate for open access. 

The PDF file can be downloaded here


Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Subversive Proposal at 20

Twenty years ago yesterday, cognitive scientist Stevan Harnad posted a message on a mailing list, a message he headed A Subversive Proposal. This called on all researchers to make copies of the papers they published in scholarly journals freely available on the Internet.

The message sparked a protracted discussion, and eventually led to the publication of a book called Scholarly Journals at the Crossroads: A Subversive Proposal for Electronic Publishing.

Today the Subversive Proposal is viewed as one of the seminal texts of the open access movement.

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Subversive Proposal, I emailed Harnad nine questions yesterday. These questions are published below, with Harnad’s answers attached. 
Stevan Harnad

Q&A

RP: Today is the 20th anniversary of the Subversive Proposal, a 496-word online message you posted to a mailing list on June 27th 1994 in which you called on researchers to make copies of all the papers they published in scholarly journals freely available on the Internet. The message sparked a heated online debate that later formed the basis of a book. What stimulated you to make that posting, and why do you think it attracted as much attention and disagreement as it did?

SH: Two things impelled me to do it:

(1)   I had been editing a journal of open peer commentaryBehavioral and Brain Sciences — for 16 years at the time, and had always had the feeling that the print-on-paper medium was not the optimal medium for scholarly communication.

(2)   I also had a strong belief in the creative power of interactive written dialogue, which became even stronger with the advent of the online medium. (I had dubbed this “scholarly skywriting.”)

For scholarly skywriting to work, it has to be accessible online. But although I knew about the price of subscriptions and the serials crisis at the time, that was not my primary motivation: open online access and interaction was (and still is). (I explained this more fully in your 2007 interview.)

As to attention: I’d have much been much happier if it had attracted action rather than just attention! The disagreement (which is always welcome, and can even be creative) was about the things we will go on to discuss further below: Green vs. Gold OA and, to a lesser extent, Gratis vs. Libre OA.

RP: Looking back, what contribution would you say the Subversive Proposal has made to the development of the OA movement, which in fact really only became a movement 7 years later (in 2001), when the term open access was adopted at the meeting where the Budapest Open Access Initiative was planned and articulated?

SH: I’m not sure. What I tried to urge all scholars to do in 1994 (self-archive their journal articles) some had already been doing for years (notably computer scientists in anonymous FTP archives since the 1980s and physicists in arXiv since 1991), but I’m not aware that the self-archiving rate increased appreciably after my proposal. The proposal may have created a bit of a flurry, but it was a notional flurry: it was not heeded when it came to actual action (self-archiving).

At the 2001 BOAI meeting, self-archiving got a name — it became “BOAI OA Strategy I” (later dubbed “Green OA”).

“BOAI OA Strategy II” was OA journal publishing (“Gold OA”) and that option (though it too was mentioned in the Subversive Proposal as the likely end-game, after universal Green OA had prevailed) seems to have captured people’s imaginations more than Green OA did. In fact, across the years since 1990 authors were providing little OA at all, though of the minority who were providing OA, 2-3 times as many provided Green than Gold (and this is still true).

So, again, I don’t see much practical effect of the Subversive Proposal, either in 1994 or in the subsequent half-decade. Nor did Green OA begin to come into its own when I commissioned (and Rob Tansley created) the first free software for creating Green OA institutional repositories in 2000. BOAI helped; but the first real sign of progress came with the outcome of the 2004 UK Parliamentary Committee (which you phoned me in Barcelona to report, Richard!). The committee recommended following the proposal — by me and others — that UK research funders and universities should mandate (require) Green OA. (The Committee only recommended some experimental support for Gold OA.) After that, mandates began to grow (though still very slowly).