The opposite of open isn’t closed but broken

Wiley (publishing) conducted a survey on ‘sharing data’ inviting 90,000 researchers across a wide array of disciplines. They received more than 2,250 responses from individuals engaged in active research programs. Here an excerpt of the results recently published. Source.

Although the advocates of Creative Commons seems to be more than those who challenge this licenses, there are always voices who enrich the discussion, here a comment about CC from the world of photography [read more in Joost Smiers, video]:

“many people see the CC licences as an alternative to copyright, but in fact they are not, but are simply licences for the use of work that do not actually affect your copyright” [+]

On the other side of the spectrum, one scholar who is a strong promoter of CC is Peter Suber. Here my open notebook of his ‘Open Access‘ (download)

Why OA?

OA add value in two ways: “by making it available to more people who can put it to use, and by freeing those people to use and reuse it”. The later means not only its “free availability on the public internet, but also permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of these articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself”.

A post ‘H index’ world:

“OA benefits authors as well as readers. Authors want access to readers at least as much as readers want access to authors. All authors want to cultivate a larger audience and greater impact“.

‘There’s growing evidence that OA articles are downloaded more often as well, and that journals converting to OA see a rise in their submissions and citation impact’. Therefore ‘OA is not a sacrifice for authors who write for impact rather than money. It increases a work’s visibility, retrievability, audience, usage, and citations, which all convert to career building’

“The academic custom to write research articles for impact rather than money may be a lucky accident that could  have been otherwise”. Nowaday, the understanding of impact has also changed. We (would like to) live in a post ‘H index’ world, not because there is something intrinsically mean with it, but in the Internet there’s much more things to consider than only the ranking of journals and the number of citations [see ‘social impact metrics‘]

‘If it is not open it’s broken’:

  • For four decades, subscription prices have risen significantly faster than inflation and significantly faster than library budgets.
  • When libraries pay for subscriptions to digital journals, they don’t buy or own their own digital copies but merely rent or license them for a period of time. If they cancel a subscription, they could lose access to past issues.
  • The deeper problem is that we donate time, labor, and public money to create new knowledge and then hand control over the results to businesses that believe, correctly or incorrectly, that their revenue and survival depend on limiting access to that knowledge.
  • Models that work well in some fields and nations may not work as well in others. No one claims that one size fits all. There’s still room for creativity in finding ways to pay the costs of a peer-reviewed OA journal, and many smart and motivated people are exploring different possibilities [see flexible models for sustainability]
  • About one-quarter of all peer-reviewed journals today are OA. A growing number of for-profit OA publishers are making profits, and a growing number of nonprofit OA publishers are breaking even or making surpluses. Two different business models drive these sustainable publishing programs: BioMed Central makes profits and the Public Library of Science makes surpluses by charging publication fees. Fee-based OA journals tend to work best in fields where most research is funded, and no-fee journals tend to work best in fields and countries where comparatively little research is funded.

Taking the red or the blue pill:

  • Librarians traditionally distinguish four functions performed by scholarly journals: Registration (time stamp), certification (peer review), awareness (distribution), and archiving (preservation). We know that green and gold OA are complementary as soon as we recognize that green is better than gold for registration (its time stamps are faster) and preservation, and that gold OA is better than green OA for certification (peer review). Neither green nor gold OA will suffice, long-term or short-term. That’s a reason to pursue both.
  • Gratis OA removes price barriers but not permission barriers. Libre OA is free of charge and also free of some copy-right and licensing restrictions.The gratis/libre dis-tinction is about user rights or freedoms, while the green/ gold distinction is about venues or vehicles. Gratis/libre answers the question, how open is it? Green/gold answers the question, how is it delivered?
  • OA does not require waiving all rights or waiving copyright altogether. On the contrary, open licenses presuppose copyright, since they express permissions from the copyright holder. Moreover, the rights not waived are fully enforceable. In the clear and sensible language of Creative Commons, open licenses create “some-rights-reserved” copyrights rather than “all-rights-reserved” copyrights. Creative Commons offers CC0 (CC-Zero) for copyright holders who want to assign their work to the public domain.

And to conclude, ‘Even if we acknowledge the need for cultural change in the transition to OA—far more critical than technological change—it’s easy to underestimate the cultural barriers and the time required to work through them‘.

Some relevant examples of Green OA (research and or data repositories): OpenAire.eu; Zenodo.org; OpenKnowledge Service.

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