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Re: Cost of Open Access

Jan:  I am not sure which end of the stick I have, as I am both an
advocate of open access publishing and a skeptic when I hear people
suggest that OA will save scholars or their institutions any money.  I
simply don't agree with you that any of the current models of OA
publishing will serve to reduce the quantity of published research.  (No
one wants to reduce the amount of research, of course, but many would like
to see the pubication of research be more discriminating.)  If scholars
paid OUT OF THEIR OWN POCKETS for publication, that would help; but most
OA schemes I have come across call for either the institutions to pay or
to have payment built into grant money.  And that's the problem:  No one
is taking economic responsibility for the quantity of publications--except
for publishers, who are viewed as the dogs of the research world.  Woof.

It is unfortunate that peer review is regarded as the way to keep the
filtering process in place, as peer review is very much part of the
Gutenberg paradigm.  Peer review (meaning review BEFORE the act of
publication) makes sense when the cost of production is high, as it once
was in the hardcopy world. Electronic production costs little, however
(once the fixed costs of setting up the server are borne), so the virtues
of peer review are not as compelling.  Instead, much peer review will be
replaced by multiple, virtually instantaneous commentary by readers AFTER
production. This is already evident on the preprint services that are
springing up.

Let's imagine a world where the cost of publication is reduced by half.
Let's also imagine that the amount of published material increases
tenfold. Where are the savings?

Joe Esposito

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "jan velterop" <velteropvonleyden@btinternet.com>
To: <liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu>
Sent: Sunday, February 08, 2004 7:16 PM
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
> thought.
> 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