[Humanist] 26.942 open access

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Fri Apr 5 07:33:43 CEST 2013

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 26, No. 942.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

  [1]   From:    Marin Dacos <marin.dacos at openedition.org>                (101)
        Subject: Re:  26.938 open access

  [2]   From:    Jean-Claude Guédon <jean.claude.guedon at umontreal.ca>    (279)
        Subject: Re:  26.938 open access

        Date: Thu, 4 Apr 2013 09:16:27 +0200
        From: Marin Dacos <marin.dacos at openedition.org>
        Subject: Re:  26.938 open access
        In-Reply-To: <20130404052359.B8EE62CDE at digitalhumanities.org>

Dear Holly Shulman,

Thank you for your very interesting answers. I hope I won't bother the list
with my answers. If so, we could continue the discussion off the list. But
I think that this question is crucial for the future of arts, humanities
and social sciences.

The cheapest system is the "green" road, that means that scholars deposit
their articles in dedicated repositories, such as HAL
<http://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/> in France. Some universities are
mandating this to all their scholars. Cf. ROARMAP: Registry of Open Access
Repositories Mandatory Archiving Policies. http://roarmap.eprints.org/ This
road is very efficient but I won't develop this part, considering that the
green road is there to move forward, in the direction of "gold" open
access, that means online open access journals.

You are totally correct saying that the publishing skills are very
important and add value. I don't believe in a system where self publishing
would be the common rule. Digital humanities does not mean that everybody
will have to encode their articles in TEI or to provide a layout, install a
CMS and run a web server... Not at all! It would be a mistake. We have to
build digital infrastructures (other call this cyber infrastructure
http://www.acls.org/programs/Default.aspx?id=644 ) and to provide a large
range of features, providing a high level, sophisticated and efficient
digital publication system. To publish an article or a book costs money,
either on paper or digitally. In late 1990's, I thought to digital
publishing would cost less money that paper publishing 
<http://ch.revues.org/index48.html>. After 14 years of building a platform
dedicated to digital publishing  http://www.openedition.org , I know that
digital publishing is not less expansive than traditional printing... but
is far more efficient when dealing with the question of audience,
visibility, and usages of the scholarly publications.

Now, let me give more precise informations about freemium, which is, to my
mind, a very interesting solution. The example of the New York Times may
not be a good example, because they have decided to impose a limit in
reading the number of articles during a month. The "perfect" freemium model
should provide a fully featured solution, that means that the "free" should
not be a preview of the content, it should BE the content.

In OpenEdition Freemium  http://www.openedition.org/8873?lang=en , we have
searched to find the good balance between openess of the content and
monetization of... the content. That could lead to an apory or a squaring
the circle. Should we give the consonant for free and display the vowels
only to people who pay? That would be a false open access! So, we have
decided to put the value where it is :

- the content is free, without any limit. That means that articles in HTML
are free. Example : http://cybergeo.revues.org/25760?lang=en

- services are paid. We are providing PDF and Epub formats only to
subscribers, but also unlimited alerts about our contents, sophisticated
usage statistics, hotline for libraries, training sessions and
representation in the user's committee of OpenEdition. We will improve
these premium features in the future.

The objective is to ask to libraries to spend 1 dollar to openness instead
of gated contents. When they spend this dollar, they spend it for
themselves and for the whole humanity, because they pay for open access,
not only for their own interest. Doing so, they invest in a worldwide
digital library that has no name today, but who changes something in
circulation of knowledge. You already know that libraries budgets are
threatened, but stay very high. That means that there is money somewhere
that could be spent with more efficiency. See

A lot of researchs prove that openess is also good for the authors, because
they are far more cited and read. Most of these studies, to my knowledge,
focus on non HSS disciplines, or only in English speaking publications. I
have some materials showing that in French HSS, when a journals move from
gated access to open access, the visibility is increased by at least 1.28
and can reach 5.47 (means : the average number of articles

On the opposite, Peter Suber shows that the previous model has dramatic
drawbacks. Just considering the number of journals accessible in libraries
(in 2008) shows that Harvard had access to 98 900 journals and Yale to
"only" 73 900. That means inequality between the richest universities. In
India, the wealthiest library (Indian Institute of Science) had only access
to 10 600 journals. Of course, a lot of universities do not have access to
so many journals. And, of course, all the people outside universities have
NO ACCESS to these journals, except to 8800 journals listed in the DOAJ,
which are totally open. That means the teachers of the public schools (if
US State think that knowledge is expansive and cuts the education budgets,
he should try ignorance, it is far less expansive), the
journalists, historic houses, small museums, young scholars, and everybody
in the world that could be interested in any topic.

We have to find a sustainable solution in order to provide access to the
knowledge to everybody, considering all the variations of sources of
income. If we have in common the objective to find a solution to this
question, we have done half the way. Then, we can work together to invent
the future of scholarly publication. The freemium is the solution I believe
in, but we could find other fair and efficient solutions (you are right
about "pay to say" or APC model, and when you think that APC are
"Orwellian" you are probably right). The future is not written, but
different models will probably emerge, not only one.

Best regards,
Marin Dacos

Marin Dacos - http://www.openedition.org
Director - Centre for Open Electronic Publishing

** OpenEdition is now a Facility of
Excellence http://www.openedition.org/10221?lang=en
* *(Equipex) **
** New email : marin.dacos at openedition.org **

CNRS - EHESS - Aix-Marseille Université (AMU) - Université d'Avignon
3, place Victor Hugo, Case n°86, 13331 Marseille Cedex 3 - France
Tél : 04 13 55 03 40 Tél. direct : 04 13 55 03 39 Fax : 04 13 55 03 41
Skype : marin.dacos - Gmail video chat : marin.dacos at gmail.com
Twitter : http://twitter.com/#!/marindacos

        Date: Thu, 04 Apr 2013 12:14:41 -0400
        From: Jean-Claude Guédon <jean.claude.guedon at umontreal.ca>
        Subject: Re:  26.938 open access
        In-Reply-To: <20130404052359.B8EE62CDE at digitalhumanities.org>

Let me try to contribute to the interesting discussion below.

Le jeudi 04 avril 2013 à 07:23 +0200, Humanist Discussion Group a
écrit :

>                  Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 26, No. 938.
>             Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
>                        www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
>                 Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org
>        [snip]
> >
> PAY TO SAY:  I have a great deal of trouble with this model, which I have
> heard discussed a fair amount.  It assumes that someone, somewhere, will
> pay, and do so according to merit (at least to the extent that peer review
> reflects merit).  But the world we live in is one of growing disparities
> between rich and poor on every level.  Let's start with rich universities.
> Will they pay?  Will they equally pay along the lines of rank, from adjunct
> to graduate student to assistant to star chaired full?  Then there are the
> poorer colleges, universities and community colleges.  Will they have the
> funds to pay at all?  Then there are scholars who either are independent or
> work for institutions that today are hard pressed financially, such as
> historic houses and small museums, or young scholars trying to break in.
> From my perspective, $1,000 can be a great deal of money just to cross a
> threshold to be considered -- and I am assuming the article still has to go
> through peer review.  If it is simply pay to play, then that raises a whole
> new bunch of questions about what constitutes published scholarship, it's
> meaning and it's weight. In addition, NONE of this pays for the costs of a
> journal producing an essay beyond pdf.  Does PAY TO SAY imply a simple pdf
> model, or some sort of e-book publication model, where online publication
> become simply a delivery mechanism and not an opportunity for interactive
> querying?  Moreover, your examples come from Europe, not the United
> States.  It is my impression that while the US economy is probably in
> better shape than much of (albeit not all of) Europe, the political
> philosophy that currently dominates our budget discourse discourages
> federal money from supporting scholarship, especially in such abstract
> areas as the humanities, where there is no clear product that will help
> every day problems such as medicine or urban planning. Of course I remember
> Aries, and I am old enough to personally remember much of the period during
> which he was writing.  Whatever I feel about his background in action
> francais, which may be forgiving, it does not alter the difference in
> political culture between now and then.  After all, there was a time when
> the United States Government created the National Endowment for the
> Humanities, which is now being nickled and dimed and I'm sure worries about
> its very existence.  (If you will excuse me, there is something that to me
> is slightly Orwellian about "pay to say", but maybe that's simply me.)

I essentially agree with what is above, and I would assume that Marin
Dacos does too. Two little points , however:

1. Ariès' position in the French political spectrum has little to do, if
anything, with the point made by Marin Dacos.

2. Marin Dacos' examples, unsurprisingly, come from the area he knows
best, and it is true that Europe is different from the US in many
respects. However, when it comes to the role of the State (or national
government) in research, it must be remembered that even the US is
spending a sum that peaked at 150 billion dollars in 2010. It is true
that these levels of support wax and wane, but so does everything else.
And one can be sure that, even in the US, basic research may undergo
certain degrees of decline, but it will never disappear. After all,
governments all over the world have supported research, both basic and
applied, since at least the 17th century (in an institutionalized
manner) and even before (in a more ad hoc manner). it should also be
remembered that "American exceptionalism" does extend to its collective
mind set:  the US is truly different from most parts of the world
(witness the current debates in the US about health and weapons: they
leave many of us outside totally bemused and scratching our heads in
amazement). In this regard, Europe is a lot closer to the rest of the
whole world than the US, so that the global reference point cannot and
should not be the US, unless we accept (which I would not) that the US
is the flag bearer of humanity's progress... The US, in many ways, is an
extraordinary country, in all the meanings of the word.

The problem identified above lies with the status of research in the
humanities, but this has more to do with the shifting role of the
humanities in our societies than with the role of governments in
supporting the kind of R&D that private capital will *never* support. In
this regard, I would suggest re-reading the book my regretted colleague,
Bill Readings, "The University in Ruins" where he does a rather
intriguing analysis of the fate of the humanities in a university driven
by corporate values and managed through the empty category of
"excellence" (on excellence, his chapter 2 is stellar).


> >
> DIRECT FUNDING: This simply picks up from above.  I am an American and a
> scholar of American History, and so will confine myself to what goes on in
> the United States.  When I began working in the area of digital publishing
> there was University financial support.  Today there it is largely gone.
> So have faculty positions disappeared.  So may NHPRC or NEH.  Rice
> University tried to start an OA publishing house -- and it failed.  The
> University of Virginia Press is often criticized for costing money to
> purchase products, but it also has a staff to pay that perform a whole
> range of functions.  Do I want that kind of staff to help my project moved
> past the pdf or self-made (aren't a great techie) stage to where other
> historians can think about electronic archives and products without
> becoming deeply enmeshed in problems of language and tagging and markup and
> so on.  If we limit digital historians to those with technical background
> and who enjoy the process, then professional recognition or not, this line
> will create a barrier, and on one side of that barrier there will be some
> very smart historians who have tons to say that we, as academics, need to
> hear, both as articles and books.  As time goes on, of course a certain
> amount of this will be simply a matter of means of delivelry, but we're not
> there yet as nook does not use the same eproduction system as does kindle,
> etc. etc., and in which every press has to upload its own materials to
> Amazon to get it listed there, which in itself takes work, which means time
> and money.  In my world, there are not only government funders (now
> threatened) but foundations.  But foundations are subject to trends and
> whims.  As I understand the philanthropic world in the United States today,
> to get something done most museums or hospitals or whatever are
> increasingly searching for individuals who are very wealthy and who would
> make a big commitment from both sides of the grave.  So we ask the
> superwealthy to make up for the problems of federal poverty imposed by
> ideological commitments and perpetuate the problems of the distribution of
> wealth, at least in the Unite States.  Note that we are even having trouble
> maintaining public schools.  If you've missed this, go to the NY Times.

One of the great lesson of history (and I believe we three are trained
historians) is that nothing ever remains stable. Continuity and change
is the daily bread of the historian. So, worrying about change is not of
the essence. What is of the essence is how to position oneself to adapt
to inevitable change.

What is said above is all true, and I was particularly touched by the
issue of a barrier (or divide) between digital-savvy scholars and the
rest. My impression is that it is unavoidable. The younger equivalents
of Dan Cohen (of Zotero fame, but not uniquely) are gradually taking
over while an older, print-wedded, generation is slowly fading away (or
do they just smell that way..., just like old fishermen? :-) ).

It is also true that the very nature of digital documents is still being
fathomed, and the pdf  texts are nothing more, as Gregory Crane would
put it, than digital incunabula. However, we should leave these issues
as important, but related and second-order issues. Let us first find
some good ways to ensure the basic shift to the digital world,
including, of course, financial means, but let us do it without blocking
the future. In this regard, pdf files are not a good choice because
extracting ourselves from that format in the next couple of decades is
going to be extremely costly. Learning, therefore, how to produce well
designed, XML-based, documents will certainly be helpful. From there, we
can produce just about anything, including the horrific pdf's without
being made prisoners of these incunabular form. 

This also means identifying points of financial support that could
provide important digital infrastructures for everyone. For example,
Marin Dacos" platform relies on an important piece of software, Lodel,
that, so far as I understand, allows moving relatively gracefully from a
word processing file such as word to an XML document. Revues.org uses
this platform, but many other groups could use it as well. Except that
to do so, resources are needed to tweak the software further, make it
easier to use, and document it fully in the major languages of the
world. This is a project a foundation could support for, say, three
years. Make the result a modular part of the Open Journal System which
focuses much more on the actual transactions affecting the course of a
submitted manuscript in the editorial structure of a journal, and you
are getting close to the idea of a "journal in a box", meaning a set of
integrated software to help any group to start a journal in a
professional and orderly fashion. Such a project would be a wonderful
project for Ubuntu and the associated foundation. They could offer a
distribution of Ubuntu (a Linux distribution) dedicated to journal
publishing. This would have the added advantage of the convergence of
projects such as Revues.org, OJS and Ubuntu. At this stage, leave the
door open for the further extensions in the area of data. 

In this fashion, any group in the world could rely on these tools to
develop their journals. At the same time, the presence of such tools, as
they would need to evolve, would assemble communities similar to various
free software communities (Linux, Apache, Mozilla, etc.). Little by
little, various organizational layers would appear, helping individual
groups of scholars to start and build a journal, including its
reputation. new solutions to publishing would also emerge from within
the "affordance" spectrum of these technologies, etc. etc. I could go on
and on, but I think the point is clear.

All this demonstrates that the US academic situation may not be the best
vantage point to study digital publishing and OA issues, even though
many of the best experiments in OA publishing are emerging from within
the US, but generally in outlying sites (e.g. PLoS despite my
reservations about the author-pay model, or O'Reilly's recent venture
where the basic fee is $100.00 for lifelong access to publishing an
article per year). Some of these explorations will fail, others won't,
but that too is part of history's unfolding.

> >
> > - freemium : in OpenEdition Freemium, the texts are free to read, the
> > services are paid. This idea is not new, it is the business model of a lot
> > of online services, such as dropbox or Skype, it is also the business model
> > of the New York Times, and also of MOOCs, massive open online courses :
> > http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Massive_open_online_course
> >
> FREMIUM:  Here in fact someone is paying.  But skype exists within the
> universe of for-profit business.  The New York Times is fremium in the most
> limited of ways: you can get ten articles in a month and then you have to
> pay.  With the collapse of advertising, ESPECIALLY the collapse of
> classified ads in newspapers, the problems of running newspapers has
> skyrocketed, and certainly does not offer a vision for the future of
> scholarly publications.  When did you last purchase a paper copy of the
> NYTimes.  It costs $2.50.  I have no idea what the cost structure of the
> NYTimes is, but I would go toe to toe on this with you as the Times spends
> a great deal of money on improving its online reporting, and that may bring
> in readers, it may make readers prefer digital to print, but it costs.  And
> what about journals.  A fremium for the American Historical Review?  One
> copy free per year but you have to pay for the other 3?  What about the
> relationship between how professional organizations get financial support
> and their journals.  How many people payed to belong to the AHA in order to
> get the AHR?

Someone is always paying, be it a government, users, or an institution
(university presses used to be subsidized by universities, at least in
the Johns Hopkins model, precisely because no one wanted to print and
publish the kinds of works that scholars produce: these have little
commercial appeal in most cases). So, meeting with a business plan that
looks more familiar does not really constitute a solid argument:
publishing always costs something and there is always some form of
financial plan, except that it may not look like a business plan. It is
important to remember that, again, and even in the US, research is
supported in large part by public money. That kind of research has no
business plan. In fact, basic research, in terms of business plans, is
not sustainable. But, for something that is patently unsustainable, it
is remarkably viable: ever since the Royal Society and the Royal French
Academy, research has been steadily supported in an unsustainable way by
governments. Of course, it fluctuates, but it never disappears!  

Publishing the results of research is an unavoidable and integral part
of the research cycle. The cost of publishing compared to the cost of
research (less publishing) is very small, of the order of 1 or 2%
(including the enormous profits of commercial publishing houses). From
that point on, it becomes difficult to see why publishing should be so
radically separated from the rest of the research cycle. In France,
right now, mathematicians are experimenting with an evaluation process
tacked on open access repositories (http://episciences.org. That could
be one solution. In the US a similar project works on top of ArXiv.
Michael Kurtz, from Harvard, has allowed me to quote him as follows:

"I thought I would point out that myADS-arXiv is essentially an OA
journal built on top of a disciplinary repository.  We have been
calling it an " fully customized (to each individual user), open
access virtual journal covering the most important papers of the past
week in physics and astronomy"
(http://labs.adsabs.harvard.edu/ui/abs/2006ASPC..351..653K) since we
began it almost a decade ago.
(labs.adsabs.harvard.edu/ui/abs/2003AAS...203.2005K is the version for
the journals, the OA arXiv version came out the next year).  About
half of working astronomers subscribe to myADS.

To show you how it works, here is the link to my myADS page:
The panels are all queries on the ADS database, with the ones on top
(citations, favorite authors, and two most recent) showing articles
which appeared in arXiv during the past week.  It is updated each
Friday.  The bottom panels use download and citation statistics to
recommend popular articles.

Clearly a similar service could be built on top of PLoSONE instead of
arXiv, as you suggest."

Similar systems could be organized in the humanities, of course. One
good place to start would be, if they agreed, with JSTOR (and if JSTOR
put all of its book reviews in OA, what a boon this would be to all of

> I won't go on.  I've probably bored the whole readership of this thread to
> death.  But as far as I can see, NOTHING IS FREE. And scholarship, at least
> in the Humanities, at least in the United States, is not very highly
> valued. We have a crisis here over the cost of post-secondary education.
> We could, of course, turn every course into a MOOC and only hire graduate
> students (the few left) and adjuncts and put a life term on a MOOC of s ay
> ten years so that we can get our money's worth out of it (even if it is
> outdated by 7 or 8 years on).  I sure hope that is not the future of my
> grandchildren's education!  I am betting on the people of New York City,
> where they live, to make sure it doesn't happen, but then most of the IT
> and scholarly types I know there work for a living in which the company or
> institution gets paid for its product.
> Holly C. Shulman

Neither do I want to go on forever, but, even in the US, there is room
for truly innovative thinking. Everyone agrees that there is no free
lunch, but thinking about business models only in terms congruent with
the present, familiar, business scene severely constrains our thinking.
This is all the truer when we are dealing with activities and
institutions that are not part of the free-enterprise world. To put it
the other way around, the free-enterprise mentality, while expanding,
has not yet conquered everything, including universities; neither is it
a good idea to imagine that it should, as some MOOC advocates dream
about. Again, reading Bill Readings' book might be a good starting point
to engage in a really useful conversation. But developing my own ideas
contra excellence would take us too far afield. Thank you, Holly, for
your thoughtful forms of push back.

Jean-Claude Guédon
Professeur titulaire
Littérature comparée
Université de Montréal

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