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California Can Lead the Way in Open Access (eff.org)
62 points by DiabloD3 35 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 11 comments

The fact that intermediaries have been extracting fees from the public for access to publicly-funded research is despicable. Full public access should've always been the norm, and anything like this is at least a step in the right direction.

Mandating open access solves part of the problem (public access to research), but doesn't address the rents extracted by publishers.

I would bet that the publishers are actually ok with this, as they can (and do) make authors pay huge sums to make their articles open access. So now authors are forced to pay those fees. For the author, that's fine if you have a grant or institution that will pay those fees, but it is hard for others to pay $1500 per article they want to publish. And it just shifts how institutions are paying for journal access.

Self-archiving (i.e. in a state-provided repository) does not typically require additional charges.

However, I'd prefer mandating Open Access without providing those fees. Authors are not really forced to pay those fees, i.e. some authors will not be able to and hence not publish their work in the traditional, expensive journals. That would mean that they would be missing out on quality work, leading to a diminished reputation, and even researchers who can pay publishing fees to forego those journals.

Well, in theory at least.

> Under the bill, grantees would be required to put their works in a state-provided open access repository within a year of publication.

I was nodding along until I got to that quote. Why does it have to be in the state-provided one? Can't you just set the rules and be done? And if you are concerned that researchers have to maintain a website, then you can have an optional state-provided repo. I hope this model is not adopted generally across states and just requiring transparent access is enough. That way places that comply with the spirit of the rule could arise without being run by the government or concerned with publishing to each grantor's repository.

Is it really that onerous to do whatever it is you want with your paper, and then just send a copy to the people who gave you your funding?

The State of California funds a lot of research, and having it all available in one place should make things like archiving much easier.

My lab has all our papers available on our website, but my supervisor is old. He's not going to live forever. It won't be too long after he goes that the website will go too. The server needs security updates every once in a while. The DNS will expire in ten years. We don't use HTTPS, but if we did, it would expire within a couple years. All easy stuff, but when the only person responsible for doing it has died, it won't get done.

If it is "just send a copy" of course it's not that onerous. But you intentionally framed it in the most simple sounding way. I understand the benefit of centralized hubs, I just also understand that governments are rarely good at building them. At the very least it's a concern worth noting instead of pretending everything will be perfect. I'd rather the law just stay with rules and move towards required centralization as needed. For your lab, it sounds like you'd leverage an optional system by choice.

One concern that I can imagine them having is long-term sustainability. If you allow researcher websites, you have to add additional provisions guaranteeing long-term availability, indexation, permanent identifiers, etc. They might even want to upload them to for-profit websites like ResearchGate or Academia.edu that at any point might hide the work behind paywalls, sell readers' data, add their own pages to the work, etc. However, if you mandate a state-provided repository, you can just make sure it ticks all the boxes and be done with it.

I'm not sure I trust the state any more than any other website wrt archival. "Be done with it" if you mean the legislation sure...but the implementation is where the fear lies, there is no "be done with it", it's now just another interminably maintained government resource. Maybe there's a middle ground or what will likely occur is there will be a clearing house middleman that will solve challenges of uploading to each government's mandated site if this approach becomes more pervasive.

Haha yeah I mean "be done with it" in terms of legislations. In all likelihood, what will happen is that they outsource the maintenance to one of the traditional publishers, or a company that they have acquired (such as Bepress) or will acquire.

Some questions:

- Does the research have to be funded solely by California, or is the requirement also for research partly funded by California?

- Do researchers have to manually take action a year after publication, or can they deposit it now and tell the repository when to make it public?

- Do researchers have to take action in the first place, or will the deposit happen automatically by publishers?

All in all, it's clearly a step forward, though I wouldn't call it "leading the way" - at least not internationally. The embargo period is a shame (whether it's six or twelve months), and it being in some state-provided repository rather than at the primary point of publication really harms discovery and hence its usefulness (though tools like Unpaywall [0] help). In short, it doesn't tick all the right Open Access boxes [1], but at least it doesn't let perfect be the enemy of the good.

[0] https://unpaywall.org/

[1] https://medium.com/flockademic/how-open-can-open-access-be-c...

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