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

Re: PLoS

The recent posting by Andy Gass (2/20) regarding the way in which
libraries can symbolically support PloS by contributing a small portion of
authors' fees, reminded me of some follow-up questions I had for Helen
Doyle's message of 1/28. She wrote:
"Open-access proponents never suggest those costs will disappear -- though
the cost of distributing an electronic open-access journal is
(comparatively) infinitesimal.  Rather, they know that there is enough
money in the existing research and publishing system, if redistributed
appropriately, to reach the utopian ideal of 'free information.'"
Her message seems to me to move us toward real clarification of several
financial issues.  Let me try to pose what seem to me the three central

1.  Dr. Doyle says that we "know there is enough money in the existing
research and publishing system, if redistributed appropriately, to reach
the utopian ideal of 'free information'."  To make the case to granting
agencies, it seems to me that we must demonstrate, increasingly, that
"knowledge" in detail, and not as back-of-envelope calculations.

There are some very real questions here:  Will granting agencies be able
to support open access without reducing funds for research itself?  In the
present environment of constrained funding, granting agencies are already
beginning to disappoint some grant applicants.  How accurately do we know
the answer to these questions?  Yes, of course this is "unexplored
territory" (as per Andy Gass), but some rigor and exploration can and
should surely be brought to bear in discovering answers.  (I am still
hopeful that an ALPSP study can help us here, with real numbers, which we
badly need in order to make informed budgetary choices in libraries.)

2.  "If redistributed appropriately":  Is there a plan for redistribution
that could get us from here to there without putting undue loads on *some*
of our academic players, such as libraries?  How long might it take to get
to "there?"  (Again, real numbers will help us to understand what is
possible and what is not.)

3.  After redistribution:  On the OA models discussed, the movement of
money would increasingly come, without question, via high-intensity
research institutions. I can guess that our Provost would like to know if
redistribution is going to mean a net new outflow of dollars for our
institution or if it will affect indirect costs, budgets, and the like.

A second question that she might ask will be whether this new system will
be fully supported and received by all or most scientists.  The *worst*
outcome would be to create a new system and new mode of payment but then
discover that large parts of the old system survive.  This is a question
about how to persuade skeptics that an OA transformation will indeed
alleviate rather than worsen the cost-of-journals issue to research

Thank you, Ann Okerson/Yale Library