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RE: Cost of Open Access

As I understand it, the principal reason for BMC/PLoS type open access is
not that it will save great amounts of money, but that it will be easier,
fairer, and more effective. Money savings will come: the cost of
distribution, access control and licensing will be almost eliminated, and
there will be price competition between journals.  Further improvements
will no doubt come. There remains no evidence that peer review in its
present form either is or is not effective; the most efficient non-profit
publication is already at a lower price than PLoS, and expected to
improved further with improvements in efficiency and tchnology, and
publication in small portions ( the "least publishable unit") which is
prevalent in some fields will be strongly discouraged by the pricng.

Regardless of the manner of publication, I see no reason, why increasing
the volume of published articles ten-fold is either likely or desirable.
The work of Tenopir and King has show that the production of scientific
articles is very close to 0.1 per scientist per year, and has remained
about the same for the last twenty years.  The production of good
scientific papers is limited by the number of good scientists, which is
limited by the extent of social funding of research.  Certainly, a
ten-fold increase in research funding in both the more- and less-
developed portions of the world would produce much more good science. I
think we would all consider this an excellent development, but I see no
reason to design a system on the assumption it will take place.

David Goodman
Palmer School of Librarianship
Long Island University

-----Original Message-----
From:	Joseph J. Esposito [mailto:espositoj@worldnet.att.net]
Sent:	Mon 2/9/2004 5:59 PM
To:	liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu
Subject:	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