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

RE: Cost of Open Access - etymological musing

Without entering this fascinating and complex debate about open access
cost at this point, may I just make a quick etymological correction
(defence!) about the English verb, to read (Jan Velterop, 9 February

Guessing does not lie at the root of "to read".  Its old
Germanic/Dutch/Frisian origin is from the verbs reda/radan,ratan etc, but
these meant to advise, plan, explain, interpret, read.  This meaning
derived from the root noun, "Rat" which meant "that which somebody needed"
(which then supplied words like Vorrat - supply - and Heirat - marriage!).  
The word "Rat" itself was originally from the old Indian word, radhyati
(roughly, put right, organize), and old Slav word raditi (roughly, provide
for).  The meaning of "guess" for "raten" (or "erraten") emerged later
from raten's meaning of to interpret/consider - you might consider, but
you might not get it right.

Thinking a bit further about shifts (and having recently done a bit of
work on data provenance), I wonder what the background to such an open
access discussion will look like in a few years' time when provenance
tools might provide 100% assurance about the source, and by implication
also about the quality and reliability of an item retrieved from the open
web?  Will these tools also guarantee data integrity and authenticity?  
Will the provider be a company or institution whose business is not
journals (though that entity might have been a publisher), but tools for
the retrieval and organizing of information/data?

Alison Macdonald
Digital Archiving Consultancy
Twickenham, UK
(back in the mists of time, linguistic academic)

-----Original Message-----
From: owner-liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu
[mailto:owner-liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu]On Behalf Of jan velterop
Sent: Monday, 09 February 2004 03:16
To: liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu
Subject: Re: Cost of Open Access

I'm afraid, Joseph, that you've got the wrong end of the stick.

Since time immemorial people have seen the sense of separating the lentels
(chickpeas, beans) from little stones and pebbles. The verb for this
process is the very origin of the verbs 'to read' and 'to choose' in many
languages (hence 'lecture', 'elect', 'lectern', 'elite';  interestingly,
the English 'to read' comes from 'to guess'). The very same process in
science publishing is called peer-review (including the occasional stone
that slips through the process and may break your teeth; moral: always be
careful when eating lentils and reading science literature).

No one on the OA side of the argument, certainly not anybody I know, has
suggested that the selection process, peer-review, is given up.  Indeed,
in all the discussions about the definition that I am aware of, the term
Open Access has been inextricably linked with peer-reviewed literature. It
is the *only* literature that the OA advocates are concerned about.

Neither has anyone suggested that the concept of 'journals' be abolished.
Journals are a quite natural and useful way to organise and layer the
literature along criteria of quality, relevance, scope, even schools of

Open Access applies to peer-reviewed literature and although Open Access
is a quality of individual articles, not necessarily of journals, the
journals fulfil a function, as the significance of an article is indicated
by the 'label' of the journal by which (under the flag of which) it is
peer-reviewed and published.

Search algorithms will help locate the articles needed, with increasing
sophistication. If their full-text is available with Open Access, they
will be more easily found.

One last thought. A system built on payment of article processing charges,
such as the Open Access journals now being established, is more likely to
decrease output than increase it, and may limit the 'salami-slicing' that
goes on in the old-line publishing model.

Jan Velterop