May 27th, 2010
Sandy Thatcher feels “very uneasy about the massive postings of Green OA articles at sites like Harvard’s, which given that university’s great prestige may well lead to the widespread appropriation of those versions by scholars who find it easier to access them OA than to hunt down (and perhaps pay for) the final versions.” He should rest assured that we make every effort to make clear what version we are providing and where the version of record resides. We provide links to the version of record (when available) on the metadata page for each article (see here for a sample), and have even modified the DSpace software that runs our repository so that it provides users with links to the version of record on search results pages (like this) before they even get to the metadata page for the article. We provide citation information and links to the definitive version on the metadata page as well as on a front page added to the PDF for downloaded articles (for instance, this PDF). The PDF link is even clickable to go to the publisher’s site for the version of record. In short, we try to make it as easy as possible to “hunt down” the version of record.
Calling the mere use of an article in the repository an “appropriation” seems tendentious. To appropriate is “to take possession of or make use of exclusively for oneself, often without permission.” But in this case, there is nothing exclusive about the use of the articles, and permission is provided for. There is no inappropriate taking going on in DASH, or even in the Harvard OA policy, which allows for waivers of the license to Harvard. Publishers can feel free to institute and enforce policies to require waivers of the license for articles they publish if they fear that it might harm their business model — though few have done so. I expect many publishers appreciate that Green OA is not really the big problem for their business model.
On the other hand, I second the sentiment expressed by Dr. Thatcher that he “look[s] forward eagerly to the day when OA fully takes over the dissemination of scholarship…partly because it will solve the problem I have with Green OA now.” I agree that Green OA is a short term mitigation of an underlying problem that needs a fuller solution involving modifying the scholarly communication system in general.