Friday, March 30, 2012

"Medical History" going from free, Open Access, Creative Commons licensed to copyright-controlled closed access (contd.)

Hi, Sanjoy, thanks for responding. 

What you say in your comment differs from what the CUP website says, and on all the most important points.  Some things still need clearing up.

If all authors are to retain copyright, why does the CUP website for medical history present "Transfer of Copyright" forms to prospective MH authors? Here's the location:

The first, non-OA form says, "The Journal's policy is to acquire copyright in all contributions."

The second, OA form also requires authors to transfer their copyright to CUP in full, just like the first.  In spite of having paid a $1350 fee to CUP, authors who sign this form will not retain copyright of their own work.  It is CUP, as the new copyright holder, who will offer a Creative Commons licence, not the author.  As they say in the form, "Cambridge University Press will licence such uses under the following Creative Commons licence: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike".  And in fact, it is not even a full CC licence, since CUP specifically forbids authors from using their articles in certain ways.

In all cases, therefore, both closed- and open- access, the CUP website clearly states that it is CUP and not the authors who will hold the copyright.  This is the opposite of the journal's policy from 2005 to 2011, and the opposite of what you say in your comment above.

Where the CUP website talks about "Gold Open Access",
I think they are being slightly misleading.  They say, "Gold Open Access: Authors may opt to publish their article under a Creative Commons licence by paying a one-off article processing charge, making their article freely available to all."  I think most readers would, like you, assume from this statement that it is the author who will own the Creative Commons licence.  But that is incorrect.  CUP will be the owner of the CC license, and the copyright.  The author is paying CUP so that CUP - qua copyright holder - will issue a CC licence.  The author's relationship to their own research is therefore just the same as any other member of the public, with CUP controlling all the rights.


Can you really confirm that the PMC version of MH articles will be, as you say, the "final version of record"?  The CUP documentation
uses the phrase "Accepted Manuscript" which is not the same thing.  An "accepted manuscript" would normally not have the pagination of the final version, nor the final edits of CUP's editorial staff.  So it is not usually an adequate source for scholarly citation, and it is not what appears in print.

If you are right in asserting that it is the "final version of record" that will go into PMC, then I think readers of your comment may wonder why any MH author would ever choose to pay the $1350 "Golden" fee, if their article is already freely available on the web in "final, published version of record".  Does it seem good value to pay $1350 in order to have one's article available from a second website, when it is already freely downloadable from PMC?

I look forward to your clarifications.

And to be clear myself: I applaud your efforts to give MH a future, and I applaud the Wellcome Trust for their generosity.  I just sincerely hope that the new deal for MH isn't Faustian.  The model under which MH operated from 2005 was so exemplary - with true, free OA, and authors' copyright - that it would inevitably be sad to see the doors slamming shut.

1 comment:

  1. I am sorry that Sanjoy Bhattacharya has not responded to the points above, about the difference between his policy statements about the journal Medical History, and those of its new publisher, Cambridge University Press. It would be useful to everyone to have these matters cleared up.