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[BOAI] Re: Wrong Advice On Open Access: History Repeating Itself
From: "Noel, Robert E." <rnoel AT indiana.edu>
Does it make that much difference how universities, scholars, and readers ↵ arrive at Open Access? I'm a little puzzled by the lengths to which Steven ↵ Harnad goes to advance a specific path, while very deliberately excluding other ↵ cogent, seemingly sensible ideas. I have not talked to Jackson about ↵ "Getting Yourself out of the Business"; perhaps he read the ↵ "Wrong Advice" message below and now agrees with Mr. Harnad, I don't ↵ know. It seems the efforts of Berkeley's mathematician Rob Kirby (launched SPARC ↵ endorsed "Algebraic and Geometric Topology", and "Geometry and ↵ Topology") were largely seeded by the spirit of Jackson's strategy as ↵ opposed to any other strategy. Kirby has been concerned about commercial ↵ publishers' journal prices and took action that seems to me to have been ↵ constructive action (see Notices of the AMS, 2004, "Fleeced"). The ↵ message of that opinion piece again seems to me to be related to Jackson's ↵ points, and not so much to the Harnad solution. In what ways are the actions ↵ of Prof. Bruynooghe and JLP's editorial board roughly a decade ago a failure? ↵ The resignation of that Board was motivated by "Getting yourself out of ↵ the Business". Similarly, the price of "Nuclear Physics B" ↵ (Elsevier) has been going down in recent years and many users of that ↵ literature regard that as a positive thing. Many variables have driven that ↵ drop in price, and it's presumptuous to think that none of them have to do with ↵ Jackson's points. Anyway, others have devoted much more time and energy to this topic than I ↵ have, but I'm skeptical of recommendations that bluntly reject other strategies ↵ from the outset. It makes me think that open access is not the primary goal, ↵ but that a specific path to open access is the primary goal, and that access ↵ itself is a convenient result, but still an afterthought. It's tantamount to ↵ engineers and scientists recommending to policy makers that solar and wind ↵ energy are viable alternatives that will reduce a country's dependence on oil, ↵ but research into biofuels, maglev trains, and clean coal is utter nonsense, ↵ and reducing individual energy consumption by changing lifestyles is a sham, ↵ and in fact counterproductive. Does anyone on the planet have this much foresight as to how civilization ↵ should communicate and share information? Bob Noel Swain Hall Library Indiana University Bloomington, IN 47405 -----Original Message----- From: boai-forum-bounces AT ecs.soton.ac.uk [mailto:boai-forum-bounces AT ↵ ecs.soton.ac.uk] On Behalf Of Stevan Harnad Sent: Wednesday, October 21, 2009 8:35 AM To: American Scientist Open Access Forum Cc: SPARC Open Access Forum Subject: [BOAI] Wrong Advice On Open Access: History Repeating Itself [Apologies for Cross-Posting: Hyperlinked version is at: http://openaccess.eprints.org/index.php?/archives/641-guid.html ] With every good intention, Jason Baird Jackson -- in "Getting Yourself Out of the Business in Five Easy Steps" http://jasonbairdjackson.com/2009/10/12/getting-yourself-out-of-the-business-in-five-easy-steps/ is giving the wrong advice on Open Access, recommending a strategy that has not only been tried and has failed and been superseded already, but a strategy that, with some reflection, could have been seen to be wrong-headed without even having to be tried: * Choose not to submit scholarly journal articles or other works to publications owned by for-profit firms. * Say no, when asked to undertake peer-review work on a book or article manuscript that has been submitted for publication by a for-profit publisher or a journal under the control of a commercial publisher. * Do not seek or accept the editorship of a journal owned or under the control of a commercial publisher. * Do not take on the role of series editor for a book series being published by a for-profit publisher. * Turn down invitations to join the editorial boards of commercially published journals or book series. In the year 2000, 34,000 biological researchers worldwide signed a boycott threat to stop publishing in and refereeing for their journals if those journals did not provide (what we would now call) Open Access (OA) to their articles. http://www.plos.org/about/letter.html Their boycott threat was ignored by the publishers of the journals, of course, because it was obvious to them if not to the researchers that the researchers had no viable alternative. And of course the researchers did not make good on their boycott threat when their journals failed to comply. The (likewise well-intentioned) activists who had launched the boycott threat then turned to another strategy: They launched the excellent PLoS journals (now celebrating their 5th anniversary) to prove that there could be viable OA journals of the highest quality. The experiment was a great success, and many more OA journals have since spawned, some of them (such as the BMC -- now Springer -- journals) of a quality comparable to conventional journals, some not. But what also became apparent from the (now 9-year) exercise was that providing OA by creating new journals, persuading authors to publish in them instead of in their established journals, with their track-records for quality, and finding the funds to pay for the author publication fees that many of the OA journals had to charge (since they could no longer make ends meet with subscriptions) was a very slow and uncertain process. There are at least 25,000 peer-reviewed journals published annually today, including a core of perhaps 5000 journals that constitute the top 20% of the journals in each field, the ones that most authors want to publish in, and most users want to access and use (and cite). There are now about 5000 OA journals too, likewise about 20%, but most -- unlike the PLoS journals (and perhaps the BMC/Springer and Hindawi journals) -- are far from being among the top 20% of journals. Hence most researchers in 2009 face much the same problem that the signatories of the 2000 PLoS boycott threat faced in 2000: For most researchers, it would mean a considerable sacrifice to renounce their preferred journals and publish instead in an OA journal: either (more often) OA journals with comparable quality standards do not exist, or their publication charges are a deterrent. Yet ever since 2000 (and earlier) there has been no need for either threats or sacrifice by researchers in order to have OA to all of the planet's peer-reviewed research output. For those same researchers who were signing boycott threats that they could not carry out could instead have used those keystrokes to make their own peer-reviewed research OA, by depositing their final, peer-reviewed drafts in OA repositories as soon as they were accepted for publication, to make them freely accessible online to all would-be users webwide, rather than just to those whose institutions could afford to subscribe to the journals in which they were published. Researchers could have made all their research OA spontaneously since at least 1994. They could have done it OAI-compliantly (interoperably) since at least 2000. But most researchers did not make their own research OA in 1994, nor in 2000, and even now in 2009, they seem to prefer petitioning publishers for it, rather than providing it for themselves. There is a solution (and researchers themselves have already revealed exactly what it was when they were surveyed). That solution is not more petitions and more waiting for publishers or journals to change their policies or their economics. It is for researchers' institutions and funders to mandate that their researchers provide OA to their own refereed research by depositing their final, peer-reviewed drafts in OA repositories as soon as they are accepted for publication, to make them freely accessible online to all would-be users webwide, rather than just to those whose institutions can afford to subscribe to the journals in which they were published. I would like to suggest that Jason Jackson (and other well-meaning OA advocates) could do incomparably more for global OA by lobbying their own institutions (and funders) to adopt OA mandates than by launching more proposals to boycott publishers who decline to do what researchers can already do for themselves. (And meanwhile, they should deposit their articles spontaneously, even without a mandate.) OA Week 2009 would be a good time for the worldwide research community to come to this realization at long last, and reach for the solution that has been within its grasp all along. Stevan Harnad -- To unsubscribe from the BOAI Forum, use the form on this page: http://www.soros.org/openaccess/forum.shtml?f -- To unsubscribe from the BOAI Forum, use the form on this page: http://www.soros.org/openaccess/forum.shtml?f
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