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

RE: Varmus in the Chronicle

> Harold Varmus is right. Maybe his remarks were not reported in full. You
> know how journalists cut to the bone! There is no reason why learned
> societies should not continue their academic activities under an open
> access model, receiving as much income from publication-payments as they
> currently receive from subscriptions.

Assuming that they would, in fact, receive as much income from author
charges as they currently do from subscribers.  I'm not sure that's
self-evident, and I don't think societies are being either greedy or
paranoid in thinking that Varmus' attitude is a bit unrealistic.  If a
society that has been substantially (or entirely) funded by journal sales
takes the plunge into open access, and author-funded submissions don't end
up picking up the financial slack, what does Varmus suggest?  Something
less facile than "find other sources of funding," I hope.

To me, the closer we get to an actual OA model, the more the economics of
it start looking like a piece of contact paper with a bubble under it --
you can push the bubble around, but it will still be there.  In this
inelegant analogy, the bubble is the simple fact that it costs money to do
research and it costs money to write about your research and it costs
money to publish and distribute a journal, and those costs aren't going to
disappear simply because everyone likes the idea of open access.  All the
utopian rhetoric in the world can't change the fact that there's no such
thing as free information.

Rick Anderson
Director of Resource Acquisition
University of Nevada, Reno Libraries
(775) 784-6500 x273