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[BOAI] Heather Joseph on the state of Open Access: Where are we, what still needs to be done?

From: "Richard Poynder" <ricky AT>
Date: Sat, 13 Jul 2013 10:54:05 +0100

The fourth Q&A in a series exploring the current state of Open Access has
been published. On this occasion the questions are answered by
<> Heather Joseph. 


A former journal publisher, Joseph has in her time worked for both Elsevier
and the American Society for Cell Biology. In 2005, however, she changed
direction and became Executive Director for the Scholarly Publishing &
Academic Resources Coalition (
<> SPARC), an alliance 
academic and research libraries created in 1998 by the Association of
Research Libraries. SPARC's original
<> mission was to 
libraries' buying power to nurture the creation of high-quality, low-priced
publication outlets for peer-reviewed scientific, technical, and medical


Subsequently SPARC also changed direction, becoming an OA advocacy group.
And under Joseph's able leadership SPARC has proved extremely effective at
making the case for OA, and persuading researchers, institutions, funders
and governments to embrace OA. In particular, Joseph led SPARC's efforts to
secure the US National Institutes of Health  
Public Access Policy, and the recent
ederally-funded-research> White House Directive on Public Access to the
Results of Publicly Funded Research.


In  <> May
last year, for instance, Joseph - along with OA advocates
<> John Wilbanks and
<> Michael Carroll, and
publisher  <> Mike Rossner - met
with  <> John Holdren and
<> Mike Stebbins of the US
Office of Science and Technology Policy (
<> OSPT). As a follow-up 
the meeting they organised a
White House petition calling for "free access over the Internet to
scientific journal articles arising from taxpayer-funded research". The
petition quickly attracted the requisite 25,000 signatures needed to trigger
a response from the government, which came this February in the shape of the
White House
ccess_memo_2013.pdf> Memorandum.


Importantly, the Memorandum directs "each Federal agency with over $100
million in annual conduct of research and development expenditures to
develop a plan to support increased public access to the results of research
funded by the Federal Government".


But for me there is no better evidence of the efficacy of SPARC's activities
than the contents of an exchange I had a couple of years ago with an
employee of one of the larger traditional scholarly publishers. When I
suggested that perhaps publishers ought to stop lobbying against OA and
learn to love it, my interlocutor's face expressed a complicated mix of
emotions - including exasperation and muted anger, but also (I felt) some
admiration for the OA movement. He replied, "It's not just publishers who
are lobbying you know." Then a few seconds later he added, "I'll tell 
what, if you can get SPARC to stop lobbying against us we will stop lobbying
against Open Access."


Since then the OA movement has gone from strength to strength, in what has
become a classic David and Goliath contest - a smallish group of impecunious
but tireless OA advocates lined up against an army of well-heeled
corporations determined to stop them. 


But how things will end we do not yet know. What is certain, as Joseph
concedes, is that "much still needs to be done" before the OA 
movement can
claim to have succeeded in its aims. 


Earlier contributors to this series include palaeontologist
> Mike Taylor, cognitive scientist
tml> Stevan Harnad, and former librarian
tml> Fred Friend. 


Joseph's Q&A can be read here:



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