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[BOAI] Re: Wrong Advice On Open Access: History Repeating Itself

From: "Prof. Tom Wilson" <t.d.wilson AT sheffield.ac.uk>
Date: Sun, 8 Nov 2009 15:00:55 +0000


Threading: [BOAI] Wrong Advice On Open Access: History Repeating Itself from amsciforum AT gmail.com
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Quoting Stevan Harnad <harnad AT ecs.soton.ac.uk>:

> On 1-Nov-09, at 10:21 AM, Prof. Tom Wilson wrote:
> 
> >> SH: Newspapers do not provide the service of peer review.
> >
> > TW: Irrelevant - they are all subject to the same forces and, in any  

> > event, it is
> > the scholarly community that provides peer review, not the  
> > publisher.  Free OA
> > journals can provide peer review just as well as the commercial  
> > publisher,
> > since it is without cost in either case.
> 
> Irrelevant to what? I would say that it is the details of peer review  
> that are irrelevant, when what we are seeking is access to peer- 
> reviewed journal articles, all annual 2.5 million of them, published  
> in all the planet's 25,000 peer reviewed journals -- of which only  
> about a 5th at most, and mostly not the top 5th, are OA journals.

Irrelevant to the processes of technological and social change that are now
taking place
 
> If researchers -- as authors and users -- want OA, it borders on the  
> absurd for them to keep waiting for journals to convert to OA, rather  
> than providing it for themselves, by self-archiving their journal  
> articles, regardless of the economic model of the journal in which  
> they were published -- but especially for the vast majority of  
> journals that are not OA journals. (And it is equally absurd for  
> researchers' institutions and funders to keep dawdling in doing the  
> obvious, which is to mandate OA self-archiving.

Why do you assume that I advocate 'waiting for journals to convert' - that is
not my position.  I am arguing for diverse approaches to the problem of making
available the results of research.  Self-archiving is one approach, free,
subsidised OA journals are another. My position is not against the former, it
is simply that one approach alone is not likely to be successful and, on top of
that, subsidised OA journals bring the maximum social benefit.

> And posting to unrefereed content to a "social network" is no 
solution  
> to the problem.

Who says it is? But it is an approach that may evolve within specific
sub-disciplines, if the researchers concerned find that it is a mode of
communication that suits them.

> Among the many dawdles that never seem to relent diverting our  
> attention from this (and our fingertips from doing it) are irrelevant  
> preoccupations with peer review reform, copyright reform, and  
> publishing reform. And whilst  we keep fiddling, access and impact  
> keep burning to ash...

?

> >> SH: The purpose of the Open Access movement is not to knock down 
the
> >> publishing industry. The purpose is to provide Open Access to  
> >> refereed
> >> research articles.
> >
> > TW: The only way to accomplish this in any true sense is for the  
> > scholarly community
> > to take over the publication process - as indeed was the case  
> > originally.
> > Commercial publishers provided a service that the technology has made
> > redundant.
> 
> In "any true sense"? What on earth does that mean? The only 
sense in  
> which articles are truly free online is if we make them free online.  
> Waiting for publishers to do it in our stead has been the sure way of  
> *not* accomplishing it.

I do not argue that we should wait for publishers to convert to OA - I argue 
for
the scholarly community to take control of the scholarly communication process
- one way of doing that is by self-archiving, the other way is by publishing,
editing and refereeing for free OA journals. What we have been waiting for is
not for publishers to do something in our stead, but, to date, waiting for
publishers to agree to self-archiving. Pretending that we are not dependent
upon the agreement of publishers seems rather unrealistic.
 
> >> SH: The enhanced research impact that OA will provide is a  
> >> (virtually cost-
> >> free) way of enhancing a university's research profile and 
funding.
> >
> > TW: The only way it is cost free is through the publication of free  
> > OA journals -
> > anything else has either a charge or, potentially, with withdrawal of
> > permission to archive.
> 
> Truly astonishing: Charging author/institutions publication fees today  
> is decidedly not cost-free, especially while the potential funds to  
> pay it are still locked up in subscriptions to journals whose articles  
> authors are not self-archiving to make them free!

You misunderstand - author charging is not 'free OA' - 'free OA' is free of
author charging and free of subscription.

> The cost per article of an Institutional Repository and a few author  
> keystrokes is risible.

That is to assume that all the other costs - e.g., of author charging are
irrelevant.

> And as for the tired, 10-year-old "Poisoned Apple" canard, I 
expect  
> that people can and keep invoking it, against all sense and evidence,  
> for 10 more decades as yet another of the groundless grounds for  
> keeping fingers in that chronically idle state of Zeno's Paralysis:
> http://www.eprints.org/openaccess/self-faq/#32.Poisoned
> http://eprints.ecs.soton.ac.uk/12094/

Ten years old it may be, but the problem remains - regardless of how much
self-referencing you make.

> >> SH: Hardly makes a difference. The way to take matters in their 
own  
> >> hands
> >> is to deposit the refereed final drafts of all their journal 
articles
> >> in their university's OA Repository.
> >
> > TW: No - the way to take matters into their own hands is to develop  
> > and publish in
> > free OA journals - archiving is with the permission of the  
> > publishers and that
> > can be withdrawn at any time the cost to the publisher becomes  
> > evident.
> 
> Repeating the Poisoned Apple canard does not make it one epsilon more  
> true. Fifteen percent of articles are being self-archived, yet 63% of  
> journals have already endorsed immediate OA self-archiving --  and for  
> the rest, there is the immediate option of deposit plus the "Almost  
> OA" via the IR's email eprint request button (for those authors who  
> wish to honor publisher embargoes).
> http://romeo.eprints.org/stats.php
> http://openaccess.eprints.org/index.php?/archives/274-guid.html
> 
> These are all just the same old, wizened Zeno's canards, being  
> repeated over and over again, year in and year out.
> http://www.eprints.org/openaccess/self-faq/#32-worries
> 
> I've lately even canonized them all as haikus --
> http://openaccess.eprints.org/index.php?/archives/648-guid.html 
>   --
> upgraded from koans: http://bit.ly/1CfGir
> 
> But it doesn't work; they seem to be imperishable, and just keep being  
> reborn, as my voice goes hoarse from making the same rebuttals and my  
> fingertips decline into dystonia...

Simply because the publishers at present see it as in their own self-interest 
to
go along with self-archiving does not mean that they will see it so
indefinitely. Things change, and you appear to deny the possibility of change
in the status quo. Curious.  Will the world remain forever the same as it is
now?  

> >> SH: No need whatsoever to switch to or wait for OA journals. Just 
 
> >> deposit
> >> all final refereed drafts of journal articles immediately upon
> >> acceptance.
> >
> > TW: I'm not arguing for waiting - and no one is waiting, it is  
> > happening now - there
> > is no reason why a dual strategy cannot be applied. The focus upon  
> > repositories
> > at the expense of adopting free OA publishing supports the status  
> > quo, which,
> > in any event cannot survive the changes taking place.
> 
> You may not think you are arguing for waiting, but what you have been  
> doing is invoking the main classical canards that have kept people  
> waiting (instead of depositing, and mandating) for well over a decade  
> now (including Gold (OA) Fever). I'd say 4000 Gold OA journals vs. 100  
> Green OA mandates is a a symptom of attention deficit, not focus. The  
> total amount of OA provided via spontaneous Green OA self-archiving is  
> and always has been greater than the amount provided by Gold OA  
> publishing, but that (15%) is no consolation, considering that the  
> other 85% is and has always been within reach all along too, whereas  
> publishers' economic models are not.

I am invoking nothing other than the will of the scholarly community to take 
the
communication process into its own hands - I keep repeating this, but you
appear to ignore it: one way is through self-archiving, another way is through
the creation of free OA journals.  There is no reason why the two cannot go
together - except in your mind which appears to take any alternative
proposition as a personal affront.

> >> SH: The goal of the OA movement is free peer-reviewed research 
from  
> >> access-
> >> barriers, not to free it from peer review.
> >
> > TW: I'm not arguing that publication should be freed from peer  
> > review - I'm saying
> > that the developments in such things as social networking, etc. make  

> > it
> > possible that non-peer-review open publication is one of the  
> > possibilties.
> 
> I would say that keystrokes and keystroke mandates, for the existing  
> peer-reviewed literature, such as it is -- the one OA is trying to  
> free -- are a far better bet (for OA) than speculations about the  
> future of peer review.

I we do not speculate how can we be prepared for the future?  It's a curious
position to take - it seems to say, 'Do not give me an argument because I am
right and all other possibilities cannot exist'. In any event, there is no
argument - I agree that self-archiving is desirable, it is one way of achieving
OA - I am simply saying that it is not the only way.  And more than one
approach can be pursued at the same time.

> >> SH: The only strategy needed for 100% OA to the OA movement's 
target
> >> content -- the 2.5 million articles a year published in the 
planet's
> >> 25,000 peer reviewed journals -- is author self-archiving and
> >> institution/funder self-archiving mandates.
> >
> > TW: Impossible to achieve - arguing for a single strategy when that  
> > strategy is not
> > achievable is to bury one's head in the sand. Changes in  
> > communication methods
> > will continue to take place and it is likely that multiple methods  
> > of OA
> > publishing will evolve
> 
> Impossible to achieve? Perhaps only in the sense that overcoming  
> Zeno's Paralysis may not be possible to achieve. But certainly not  
> because of the validity of any of the several Zeno rationales that you  
> have invoked.

Impossible to achieve because it is a Utopian ideal - and I have never yet met 
a
Utopian ideal that was capable of being realised.

> And changes in "communication methods" are not what is at issue, 
when  
> the target is to communicate validated peer-reviewed research rather  
> than simply posting or blogging in a social network. (The latter is a  
> supplement, not a substitute.) http://cogprints.org/1581/

That's a very odd position to take - self-archiving IS a change in scholarly
communication methods, and other changes are taking place.  And if researchers
find that posting to a social network is an appropriate way to communicate with
their colleagues they will do so.  In fact they already do it - within certain
sub-fields of science researchers already communicate with their colleagues in
this way - making working papers available, receiving comments, even taking the
commentators into the authorship of a paper. E-science almost depends upon this
happening.  I do not argue that this is a desirable change - I simply say that
to ignore the way science is changing and the way scientific communication is
changing is not sensible. I am extremely unlikely to be around to see what the
situation is in 25 years time, but, given the changes I have seen in the last
50, I am pretty sure that the what we have then will be very different to what
we have now.

This debate seems to boil down to two opposite propositions:

Yours: self-archiving is the only way to achieve OA

Mine: self-archiving is one way of achieving OA, but given the changes taking
place in the scientific communication world, not the only way and not the final
way.

Tom Wilson

       
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