EDem10. Stevan Harnad: Open Access to Research: Changing Researcher Behavior through University and Funder Mandates

Notes from the EDem10 — 4th International Conference on eDemocracy 2010, at the Danube-University Krems, and held in Krems, Austria, on May 6th and 7th, 2010. More notes on this event: edem10.

Open Access to Research: Changing researcher behaviour through university and funder mandates
Stevan Harnad, Université du Quebec à Montréal & University of Southampton

The common point between open access and democracy has a good example in Wikipedia’s outcome: though the mechanism of meritocracy is not that good. In Wikipedia, the criterion is not truth but notability. If everyone says that cows fly, this is what the Wikipedia will say, even if it is not true. We need some sort of mechanism, of metrics, to measure feedback. And open access can be a good base to that.

Open access means free, immediate, online access to the 2.5 million annual research articles that are published in all 25,000 peer-reviewed journals in all scholarly scientific disciplines. It is not about removing peer-review but, on the contrary, to bring access to scientific outcomes validated, legitimated, credited, certified by this peer-review system.

It is important to note that none of the authors of the 2.5 million articles wants money for their articles: it is attention and feedback they’re asking for. this is a radical difference from other authors that make a living from writing. And that is why open access focuses on scientific publications.

Other knowledge outputs as books, textbooks, magazine articles, newspaper articles, music, video, software, other “knowledge”, data, unrefereed preprints are just not a priority, because they are not peer-reviewed and because these are not all author give-aways, written only for usage and impact, or because the author’s choice to self-archive can only be encouraged, not required in all cases (the cases of data and preprints).

Two ways to provide open access.

  • Green OA: once the article is accepted, the pre-print referee-accepted version is made open.
  • Gold OA: open the published version, desirably the journal itself.

Reasons for open access: To maximise the uptake, usage, applications of a publication. Research open on the web has 25-50% more impact, and the better the article, the higher the impact of making that article open.

Surprisingly, despite the benefits still only a tiny fraction of researchers provide green access to their papers, and the only successful way so far has been mandates, mandates to provide green access enforced by funders and/or universities. Indeed, most researchers are for open access, but they just claim lack of time to do so, which means they would not oppose a mandate provided it came with the necessary resources to put it into practice.

Sample of candidate OA-era metrics: citations, CiteRank (like PageRank), co-citations, downloads, citations and downloads correlations, hub/authority index, chronometrics (latency, longevity), book index, endogamy/exogamy, links, tags, commentaries, journal impact factor, h-index (and variants), co-authorships, publication counts, number of publishing years, semiometrics (latent semantic indexing, text overlap, etc.), research funding, students, prizes, etc.


Q: what is then the future of journal publishing? A: for the time being, even in the areas where OA is higher, there has been no journal cancellations. Once everything is open access, many journals will have to change their business models, and only peer-review will remain: no archiving, no paper publishing, no online publishing, etc. And they will only need a small fraction of the money to be sustainable, and they’ll get if from funders, governments, universities, authors or whatever.

More information

Brody et al. (2007) Incentivizing the Open Access Research Web: Publication-, Data-Archiving and Scientometrics. CTWatch Quarterly, 3(3).

EDEM10 – Five Questions – Stevan Harnad from digitalgovernment:

If you cannot see the video please visit <a href="http://ictlogy.net/?p=3353">http://ictlogy.net/?p=3353</a>

Other reactions on this session


EDEm10 - 4th International Conference on eDemocracy (2010)

EDem10 – eDemocracy Conference 2010: announcement, CFP and speech

eDem2010, the 4th International Conference on eDemocracy 2010 is taking place on May 6th and 7th, 2010, in Krems, Austria.

I want to warmly thank Noella Edelmann for inviting me to give a keynote speech in this event. For many reasons.

The first one is that the other keynote speakers are people that I am really willing to listen to, and that very rarely get together in this side of the pond (kudos for the organization!):

  • Stevan Harnad, American Scientist Open Access Forum; Universite du Quebec a Montreal, CAN; University of Southampton, UK
  • Jochen Scholl, The Information School, University of Washington, USA
  • Micah L. Sifry, Personal Democracy Forum, TechPresident, New York, USA
  • Andy Williamson, Hansard Society, London, UK

A second reason is that I am an enthusiast about the possibilities of the digital revolution to also revolutionize the concept of citizenship and politics. But I’ve become increasingly upset about the barriers to overcome. Amongst others:

  • ¿what has changed — and what has not — because of the digital revolution?
  • The digital divide because of physical access
  • The digital divide because of skills access and the new digital competences
  • The raise of the Goverati: ¿digital democrats or digital aristocrats?
  • The concentration of media, of digital media, the echo chambers and the daily me, etc.
  • Cons, but also pros of representative democracy
  • Pros, but also costs of deliberative democracy and direct democracy

I already dealt with some of these issues in my seminar Goverati: New competencies for politics, government and participation, but I have been increasingly concerned about that after having been working on a chapter proposal about the case of Spain for a Politics 2.0 book within the Information Technology and Law Series series, edited by Wim Voermans, Simone van der Hof & Marga M. Groothuis (the chapter is provisionally entitled Striving behind the shadow: the dawn of Spanish Politics 2.0 and you can see here the bibliography). So, having the chance to share my thoughts about this to a knowledgeable audience is quite a gift.

Call for Papers

By the way, the call for papers for eDem2010, the 4th International Conference on eDemocracy 2010 is open, the deadline being March, 1st. I copy-and-paste from the official website the subjects of the conference:

The EDem10 focuses on these changes which can be seen occurring in different areas and which are manifest in different way:

  • Transparency & Communication (freedom of information, free information access, openness, information sharing, blogging, micro-blogging, social networks, data visualization, eLearning, empowering, …);
  • Participation & Collaboration (innovation malls, innovation communities, bottom up, top down, social networks, engagement and accountability, collaborative culture, collaboration between C2C, G2C, …);
  • Architecture, Concepts & Effects (access and openness, user generated content, peer production, network effects, power laws, long tail, harnessing the power of the crowd, crowd sourcing, social web, semantic web, …);
  • Different Fields: open government initiatives, eDemocracy, eParticipation, eVoting, eDeliberation;
  • Approaches and Disciplines: law & legal studies, social sciences, computer sciences, political sciences, psychology, sociology, applied computer gaming and simulation, democratic theory, media and communication sciences;
  • Multidisciplinary and Interdisciplinary Approaches;
  • Research Methods.


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