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Re: [BOAI] A step forward for open access publishing

From: "Prof. Tom Wilson" <t.d.wilson AT>
Date: Fri, 16 Dec 2005 18:18:29 +0000

Threading: [BOAI] A step forward for open access publishing from peters AT
      • This Message

The CERN meeting's decision is, indeed, very interesting and potentially
groundbreaking, depending upon the results of the work of the task force.

In their deliberations I think that they should consider the received wisdom
that the present system "ensures quality through the peer review 
since this is not always the case as various cases of spoof papers to scholarly
journals has demonstrated. Quality is also declining because as John Willinsky
notes, publishers are increasingly dropping the copy editing function from
their journals ("The access principle", MIT Press, 2005 - a review is
forthcoming in the January issue of Information Research).  It is not the
publishers who ensure quality, but the academics who carry out the work of peer
review and they are as willing to do that for truly "open access" 
journals as
for those that are commercially published.

The second point is that "open access" achieved through author fees 
is not true
open access, since it simply puts a barrier to publication for those who cannot
afford the author fees. Nor is there anything to prevent the global publishing
businesses to increase those fees beyond the level of price inflation in their
home bases just as they have increased subscription charges.

True open access demands a business model based on subsidies from government,
research councils, scientific associations and individual institutions, with no
subscriptions and no author fees.  Given the amount of money now spent in the
system as whole on journal subscriptions, it can hardly be said that the
resources do not exist to achieve this.

It is interesting that, in Eastern and Central Europe, a subsidy model of
journal publishing has applied for many years: universities receive funds from
governments (in some cases) and, often in association with the various
Academies of Science, publish journals that are circulated to libraries through
exchange agreements. The papers in these journals may not get into the
international databases, but they achieve wide circulation among scholars in
the countries concerned. 

It would be readily achievable for some of the smaller Western European
countries to take the lead by requiring first publication of research in
national, subsidised, open access, e-journals. By definition, papers in such
journals would be readily findable through Web searching and, as various
researchers have demonstrated, would be likely to achieve much higher citation
scores than otherwise. 

Professor T.D. Wilson, PhD, Hon.PhD
Publisher/Editor in Chief
Information Research
e-mail: t.d.wilson AT
Web site:

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