I kept looking at the home page for the Ranking Web of World Repositories, maintained by the Cybermetrics Lab (CSIC), with both admiration and confusion. Repositories are the backbone of the green open access movement, and here were comparative statistics for institutional efforts all over the world. There is even a banner across the top of the home page saying “Supporting Open Access Initiatives Worldwide“.
So what was my confusion? In the third paragraph there is a reference to scholarly paper describing the ranking system and the note to request a copy from the corresponding author:
Aguillo, I.F., Ortega, J.L., Fernández, M., Utrilla, A.M. (2010). Indicators for a webometric Ranking of Open Access Repositories. Scientometrics, 82 (3): 477-486.
Scientometrics is not an open access journal, but a Springer subscription publication. If you didn’t request a copy from the authors and went to the publisher’s web site without an institutional subscription, you could purchase a copy of the article for $34US.
I have already written recently about Springer’s apparent interest in supporting open access as part of their diverse publishing portfolio. Springer also maintains a page for authors that provides detailed advice on self-archiving and Springer’s status as a “green publisher”.
Getting back to my confusion… Why don’t the authors, who have access to an institutional repository at CSIC, place a peer-reviewed manuscript copy of their paper in their own instutional repository and point to that copy? That would be a demonstration of support for the repository movement and Springer’s own green publisher status.
Then I had a realization. I had seen the tweet earlier last week about the ”Quandary: Scientists Prefer Reading Over Publishing ‘Open Access’ Papers.” In a nutshell, one analysis of survey data from the recent SOAP Project symposium report was that about 53% of respondents said they had published at least one open-access article, but overall only about 10% of papers are published in open-access journals.
This evidence provided the rationale for the irony I felt: these faculty scholars of repositories (you can tell they are faculty, given the tone they use addressing librarians on the home page), when presented with an opportunity to demonstrate their open access principles, preferred to direct readers of their scholarship to ask for a copy or to a non-open source and a potential $34 payout.
Oh, well, I can only hope that they forgot to deposit that green post-print manuscript copy or perhaps didn’t know they could do it with their publisher’s support.