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Re: Varmus in the Chronicle

I doubt there is a right and wrong to this debate, though you wouldn't
know it from the tone and zeal of some of the participants outside the
four corners of this particular mailgroup, moderated by the wise and,
well, moderating hand of Ann Okerson.

What seems likely to me is that we will see a pluralistic future, with
Open Access taking some positions, proprietary publishing some others, and
other models (probably karaoke-like interactive forms) scratching out
their own territory.  A useful question, therefore, would be:  What
particular positions is OA best suited for?  In my view, OA is least
useful in areas where there are established proprietary journals, for the
reasons that are endlessly cited (market entrenchment, brand recognition,
stubbornness of tenure committees, etc.).

OA, on the other hand, is uniquely suited for emerging areas of study,
where the proprietary publishers have not yet staked out an interest for
the simple and obvious reason that there is no money in a market that does
not yet exist.  For an emerging discipline, OA serves the people who
benefit most, the researchers and authors, who are trying to get their new
discipline on the map and are motivated to pay to do it.  An interesting
question is whether such OA journals will switch and become proprietary
once the discipline is established.

A corollary to this is that OA probably won't save anyone money.  Legacy
journals in legacy disciplines will continue to function largely with
legacy business models.  Perhaps the increases in costs can be moderated
through OA (for the new disciplines), but I hope no one is waiting for a
free copy of Cell.

Joseph J. Esposito

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Rick Anderson" <rickand@unr.edu>
To: <liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu>
Sent: Tuesday, January 27, 2004 7:39 PM
Subject: RE: Varmus in the Chronicle


> 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
> rickand@unr.edu