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Re: PLoS

Ann's questions are very fair. Within a university the key to finding the
answers is in the hands of the senior management, who are able to look at
the entire institutional budget. In some cases the answer may be to move
existing funds out of the library journals budget to support authors' open
access publication charges, while in other situations the best solution
may be to leave the funds with the library to support a funding model like
that of PLoS. Likewise, for the funding of institutional repositories, in
many cases this may be a service managed by the library, but it is the
responsibility of each institution to find the solution best suited to its

On the role of funding agencies, nobody wants research to suffer through
funding of open access payments, and the numbers we have available now -
such as those in the study commissioned by the Wellcome Trust last year -
do not suggest a major impact upon the quantity of research, certainly a
minor negative impact by comparison with the major benefits to research
funding agencies from open access. The impact will vary from one funding
agency to another - for example in the extent to which their grants
already allow for some publication costs - and we need to understand more
about the effect of open access upon different disciplines.

So the answers to Ann's questions will probably be worked out at the
institutional rather than the global level, university by university and
funding agency by funding agency. Those of us working towards open access
are looking at the national and at the global picture, and nothing I have
learned so far makes me think that total open access will be more costly
than the present publication model. We want to work with university
leaders, funding agency leaders and publishers to find the most
cost-effective solutions. My hope is that in making the institutional
calculation those responsible will take a broad rather than a narrow view
of both the costs and the benefits of open access. Too often we select one
figure - such as the cost per article of open access publication charges
or the cost of a subscription to a certain bundle of journals - instead of
looking at the entire cost of making information available, and too often
we concentrate upon costs without relating those costs to benefits.

Fred Friend

----- Original Message -----
From: "Ann Okerson" <ann.okerson@yale.edu>
To: <liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu>
Sent: Tuesday, February 24, 2004 1:12 PM
Subject: 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
> ones:
> 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
> institutions.
> Thank you, Ann Okerson/Yale Library