[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

RE: Looking an open access gift horse in the mouth

With permission of the writer...

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri, 16 Jan 2004 09:59:25 -0500
From: mdanderson@mms.org
To: aokerson@pantheon.yale.edu
Subject: RE: Looking an open access gift horse in the mouth

Dear Ann:  I agree with your assessment. The OA model transfers the cost
of publishing from users to producers of research.  Which, as you point
out, means that some institutions will pay nothing while producing
universities (Yale among them) will see a dramatic increase in their share
of the cost of publication.  Logically, this is the only certain result of
the OA model. The burden for the cost of publication will shift from all
institutions to the relatively few that produce the research.

Mark Danderson (representing my personal view only - not an institutional
New England Journal of Medicine 

 -----Original Message-----
From:  Ann Okerson [mailto:aokerson@pantheon.yale.edu] 
Sent:  Friday, January 16, 2004 8:59 AM
To:  liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu
Subject:  Looking an open access gift horse in the mouth

Dear Jill:  Joining you in your, um, er, shall we say "Eeyorely"  
reflections, let me add the following.

Having read last fall's Paribus analyst's report about how open access
could save our university library well over $2 million per year on STM
journal subscriptions, I thought that a person with fiduciary
responsibility over university budgets should understand how to effect
such a savings and move toward doing so.

First I re-calculated the numbers based on a far more accurate (though
hardly perfect) count of articles produced by our researchers in a year
(journals indexed in ISI SCI and PubMed only).  When I divided that number
into our STM journals budget (also imperfect but far more accurate than
the Yale number that's been published in various places), I learned that
if published under an Open Access model for $1000 per article, our
researchers' output would cost rather more under OA than it currently
does.  If $1500 per article, then quite a bit more, and so on.

My takeaway, based on, admittedly, a loose experiment in only one
institution, was that research-intensive places could likely spend more on
OA than they currently spend in the current system, while smaller ones
will spend a lot less and non-research institutions will have totally free

**More to the point, I was able to appreciate the pricing that many
cost-effective publishers bring to us these days -- perhaps we in
libraries seriously undervalue their contributions.***

As Peter Suber writes, the good news is that under OA the whole world
would have access to these articles forever.  That is, if the current OA
business model is right, and we're only guessing, at best what it might
be, with the current experiments in the STM arena...

But there are significant lurking questions about the "best" models -- Can
the larger institutions support access for all others?  Should the
marketplace of prospective readers play no role in the economic model at
all?  Is there such a thing as the best or only model?  What is the real
lifetime cost at the producer end for supporting a quality article?  And
so on...

I was really pleased to see that ALPSP, under Sally Morris's leadership,
proposes, with willing publishers, to study these and related questions in
a rigorous way.  My own hope is that publishers will join in this or a
similar projects, with willing publishers. Publishers (and perhaps
libraries with them) will want to secure (or contribute) funds to conduct
such studies, and help us all to be better informed not just in our
hearts, but particularly in our heads.  The data so gathered, especially
if both for-profits and not-for-profits were to participate, would be
invaluable.  The current rhetoric about saving a ton of money under OA is
delightful but so far is not persuasive.  I know I'm conflating two quite
different things here:  ideals and business models.  But our business
models have to work in order to sustain scholarly communications over
time, don't they?

Ann Okerson/Yale Library (representing my views only; not an institutional