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[GOAL] Fwd: [BOAI] Who is afraid of open access ?

From: Stevan Harnad <harnad AT>
Date: Thu, 21 Mar 2013 07:30:02 -0400

Threading: [BOAI] Who is afraid of open access ? from marin.dacos AT
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> From: Marin Dacos <marin.dacos AT>
> Subject: [BOAI] Who is afraid of open access ?
> Date: 21 March, 2013 4:06:20 AM EDT
> Dear colleagues,
> The French newspaper Le Monde has published a public statement,
> signed by sixty members of the academic community (Presidents of
> universities, Librarians, Journals, publishers and researchers) under
> the title "Who is afraid of open access ?". The original paper 
is here :
> More than 1500 people already signed this statement, calling for
> open access as fast as possible and asking for HSS taking leadership
> in this direction. It is now available in English :
> You can sign it :
> Best regards,
> Marin Dacos
> Director - OpenEdition
> Arguments for Open Access to Research Results
> In July 2012, the European Commission issued a recommendation on Open 
Access (i.e. free for the readers) publication of the results of publicly 
funded scientific research. The Commission believes that such a measure is 
necessary to increase the visibility of European research before 2020, by 
gradually suppressing the barriers between readers and scientific papers, after 
a possible embargo period from six to twelve months. Latin America has been 
benefiting from this approach for ten years after the development of powerful 
platforms for Open Access journals. Scielo and Redalyc, which together host 
almost 2000 journals, have considerably increased their visibility thanks to 
their Open Access policy: the Brazilian portalScielo now has more traffic than 
the US-based JSTOR. Such examples show that Open Access changes the balance of 
power in a world dominated by groups which hold thousands of (mostly 
English-language) journals: it paves the way to what could be called a real 
“bibliodiversity”, since it enables the emergence of a plurality of viewpoints, 
modes of publication, scientific paradigms, and languages.
> Some French editors of journals in the Humanities and Social Sciences 
(HSS) have expressed their concern with regard to this recommendation, which 
they saw as a threat to a vulnerable business model. However, a thorough 
assessment of the sector would be required to provide a true cost-benefit 
analysis: one should shed light on its funding sources and modes, both direct 
and indirect, public and private, and determine the roles the various actors 
play in this field, pinpointing the added value brought about by each of them.
> To be afraid of Open Access is, in our eyes, to commit oneself to a narrow 
– and in fact erroneous – vision of the future. If the HSS were set aside in a 
specific “reservation” today, they would become isolated and would ultimately 
become extinct. On the contrary, we think that the HSS can be at the forefront 
of this opening movement, precisely because there is an increasing social 
demand for their research results (we estimate the overall traffic on Cairn, 
OpenEdition, Erudit and Persée to be around 10 million visits per month!). The 
fears voiced by our friends and colleagues are largely groundless in this 
respect. Not only is the share of sales made outside of higher education and 
research institutions very small in the business models of HSS journals, which 
remain mostly directly or indirectly funded by public money, but there exist 
new business models capable of reinforcing the position of publishers without 
having the authors pay, as is demonstrated by the success of the Freemium 
programme developed by OpenEdition, a French initiative. Solutions to finance a 
high-quality open digital publication system are being invented and have 
started to prove their efficiency, as in the cases of Scielo, the Public 
Library of Science (PLOS), Redalyc or OpenEdition. It would be a disaster if 
the HSS were kept aside from this powerful and innovative movement which is 
bound to reshape our scientific landscape. Far from backing off, they must be 
among the leading disciplines in this movement, as they are in the Spanish- and 
Portuguese-speaking countries. The resistance to this evolution advocated by 
some of our colleagues seems to be a short-term strategy neglecting the 
potential benefits for science and education, as well as the democratisation of 
access to knowledge it will enable.
> According to us, this is not only an economic and commercial problem. 
Although the existence of an Elsevier-Springer-Wiley oligopoly exerts heavy 
pressure on university budgets and although the funding system of academic 
publishing should be rethought, generalised Open Access is first and foremost a 
matter of scientific policy. Knowledge cannot be treated as a commodity and its 
dissemination is more than ever a vital concern in our societies: we can work 
towards a revolutionary democratisation of access to research results. 
Knowledge behind barriers, which only the happy few working in the richest 
universities can access, is barren knowledge. It is confiscated, though 
produced thanks to public funding. In this debate, higher education and 
research institutions have akey role to play. The diffusion of knowledge and 
research results, their spreading among an audience as large as possible, is 
one of the missions of these institutions. Therefore a relevant scientific 
policy has to build public digital infrastructures, but  also needs to support 
innovative publishing policies aimed at fostering cross-disciplinary exchanges, 
new forms of writing, multilingualism and the broadest diffusion.
> Who is afraid of Open Access? Private access policies hinder the 
dissemination of ideas and is ill-suited to the new paradigms introduced by 
digital media. It is high time that we considered the Web as a unique 
opportunity in terms of innovation, the diffusion of knowledge and the 
emergence of new ideas.
> We are not afraid of Open Access. To take knowledge out of silos and 
beyond the boundaries of academic campuses is to open knowledge to everyone, 
acknowledge that it has a pivotal role to play in our societies and open up 
perspectives for collective growth.
> Do not be afraid of Open Access! It is now possible to establish a new 
scientific, publishing and business contract between researchers, publishers, 
libraries and readers in order to enter for good a society of shared, 
democratic knowledge.

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