Springer has sprung — but we have to wait longer to see green

Here’s an excellent post by Richard Poynder (@RickyPo) containing an interview with Springer on their decision to increase the embargo for Green OA — where authors can deposit their published manuscripts in institutional repositories.

The increase is a fairly dramatic one: from no embargo period to one year.

Instead of allowing free access to published articles immediately (albeit in institutional repositories rather than on the journal websites), folks without subscriptions will now have to wait a year to see published research. I wonder how many researchers will now choose to publish in non-Springer journals as a result of this decision.

4 thoughts on “Springer has sprung — but we have to wait longer to see green

      • Researchers have a long-running conflict between doing work in a way that will advance the field (which means among other things publishing in OA venues) and doing work that will advance their careers (which many believe means publishing in long-established paywalled journals).

        The disgrace here is not so much that researchers don’t always make the right choice, but that evaluation regimens stupidly reward the wrong things, giving researchers incentives to do those wrong things. HEFCE’s promised new criterion — that only OA articles will be counted in evaluations — will be a huge step towards fixing this bug. Still, for now the conflict continues in the minds of many researchers.

        This is why funder mandates are so important. Funders have no such conflict. Whether public bodies or private charities, their only goal is to do what’s right for society, with no regard for individual researchers’ careers. From their perspective, research that is not published openly means the job they’ve paid for has not been done. So funders like the Wellcome Trust just say “make it OA or we won’t give you money”. This tends to concentrate researchers’ minds wonderfully 🙂

        It would be nice if researchers would get their own houses in order without the need for mandates. But many of them won’t. So financial coercion is the way to go. Researchers can be an amazingly presumptious lot, assuming the world owes us funding to pursue our own interests for our own ends. Nope. Funder OA mandates are a welcome reminder that we do research for an actual reason.

  1. I don’t necessarily have a problem with OA mandates, especially in the case of funders. But I think they may run the risk of producing either outright resistance or a sort of compliance attitude toward open access. I agree that mandates may change researcher behavior and that behavior change can change hearts and minds; but I do worry that forced behavior change may change minds in undesirable ways. It’s also interesting to consider how mandates affect publishers. Mandates — indeed, any policies — have to be designed carefully in order to achieve the desired result and minimize unintended consequences. Of course, no one can think of everything ahead of time. That’s why policies need to be subject to critical scrutiny while they are formulated, and before and after they are implemented. In this respect, I think policy making is akin to engineering design.

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