They get letters. Maybe.

Peter Suber points out that no members of the AAP/PSP’s ill-conceived PRISM “coalition” were ever identified, and that at least nine publishers publicly disavowed or distanced themselves from it; he then asks:

Has AAP/PSP ever consulted its members about its position on the NIH policy? Are AAP/PSP members willing to see their dues spent on a lawsuit to delay it?

I think it’s worth finding that out.
Listed at the bottom of this entry are the “green” and “pale green” EPrints/RoMEO publishers listed as members by the PSP (links and names taken directly from the PSP website). On closer inspection, it seems that RoMEO proper lists all of the “pale green” publishers as yellow, and (with one or two caveats concerning journals with long embargo periods) gives them all a “compliant” rating in respect of NIH policy.
Here is a draft of the letter I have in mind to send to each of these publishers:

Dear [Publisher],
the Association of American Publishers’ Professional and Scholarly Publishing division (AAP/PSP), which lists [your company] as a member [1], recently issued a press release [2] in response to the new NIH mandate [3] for Open Access to publicly funded research. The press release was highly critical and contained a number of mistaken and misleading assertions; for details, you can read a public, point-by-point rebuttal [4] by Prof Peter Suber, open access project director at Public Knowledge [5] and a senior researcher with the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition [6]. I’m sure you remember PRISM, the AAP/PSP’s ill-considered campaign against Open Access [since your company publicy distanced itself from same]; this latest press release is similar in tone and apparent intent.
In stark contrast to the AAP/PSP’s public stance, [your company] is listed by Project RoMEO [7] as a [yellow/green] publisher. This means that [your company] policy regarding self-archiving of journal articles was fully in line with the new law even before it became law, and there is absolutely no conflict between your business model and the NIH mandate. In fact, of the 46 PSP member companies indexed by Project RoMEO, 30 have no policy that conflicts with the new law; and of the approximately 6000 journals published by those 46 companies, around 5700 already allow their authors to comply with the NIH mandate.
I write, therefore, to ask: does the AAP/PSP accurately represent its members in its opposition to the NIH mandate? Was [your company], as a member of the Association, consulted before the AAP/PSP respnse was made public? Finally, if [your company] is not in agreement with the AAP/PSP on this matter, would you consider making a public statement to that effect [in the same way you did regarding PRISM]?

The most obvious thing missing from the draft is “who the hell am I, to be asking you this?” Now, I can send the letter as myself — concerned citizen, professional research scientist, potential client of publishers — but I am only an egg, and it would have a good deal more impact as an open letter from a variety of interested and concerned parties, and still more if it came from somewhere official (ARL, SPARC, I don’t really know who would be appropriate here).
So — anyone up for a multi-author open letter? Any other ideas?
Update 080310: decided not to send letters after all; see here, scroll to bottom of post.

The publishers in question:
Pale green:


3 thoughts on “They get letters. Maybe.

  1. The Prismatic Spectrum and Occam’s Razor
    The reason there is prismatic color-confusion about the Romeo publisher policy color codes is that there are two Romeo sites: The primary one at SHERPA-Romeo and the secondary one at EPrints-Romeo.
    And the reason there are two Romeo sites is that the color code of the primary site, SHERPA Romeo, is unnecessary, confusing and dysfunctional. The EPrints site was created to simpify the code (and to provide journal-based rather than only publisher-based statistics for authors and institutions). Most of the features of EPrints Romeo have since be taken on board by SHERPA Romeo, but the color code and its associated statistics have not been, so EPrints Romeo continues to exist as a rationally focused view on SHERPA Romeo.
    The only thing an author (a would-be self-archiver) needs to know about a journal (not a publisher: authors do not look up or care about publishers) is (1) does the journal endorse self-archiving the refereed final draft (postprint)? If so, the journal is Green. If not, does the journal endorse self-archiving the preprint? If so, the journal is Pale-Green. If neither, the journal is Gray.
    OA is about postprints. Authors can in all cases immediately deposit their postprints and preprints in their IRs, regardless of the journal policy. If the journal is Green, they can make the postprint OA immediately. If the journal is Pale-Green, they can make the preprint OA immediately. Otherwise the author may set access to the deposits as Closed Access during any journal embargo period. For Pale-Green and Gray publishers, both Romeos list the length of the embargo. Only SHERPA Romeo restricts further restrictions. (The further restrictions — mostly about “allowable” types of repositories or forms of documents [author’s final drafts vs. publisher’s PDFs] are deliberately omitted by EPrints Romeo because they are arbitrary and irrelevant: Authors can and should always immediately deposit their final drafts in their IRs and ignore any further stipulations.)
    The most arbitrary and irrelevant of all, however, are SHERPA Romeo’s particolored chormatic distinctions:
    SHERPA Green = Green (postprint)
    SHERPA Blue = Green (postprint)
    SHERPA Yellow = Pale-Green (preprint)
    OTHERWISE: neither
    Stevan Harnad
    American Scientist Open Access Forum

  2. I’d be willing to sign on (e-mail me for more accurate information), but I have a hard time assessing who would actually be useful to associate with this initiative, so am not making any useful suggestions. Thanks for doing all the work!

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