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RE: Open Access and For-Pay Access (to the same IR materials)

Re: Joe Espositos comments:

How can peer review take place post publication? Regardless of whether a
highly regarded journal is author pays or subscription, surely what makes
it highly regarded in the first place is an implicit assurance from the
publisher to the reader that the articles are of the highest quality. It's
not for the busy time-poor reader to sort the wheat from the chaff. I
don't see how assurances about quality can be provided if articles are not
peer reviewed prior to being published - digitally or otherwise.

As a follow-up point I'd draw your attention to free online news services:
in the early days of the 'net the likes of the FT.com and other news
providers were free of charge. As soon as consumers started to use online
information and data as routinely as they used the hardy copy equivalent,
publishers leapt on the revenue opportunity to the extent that most news
services now require payment for premium content. My point is that demand
and the profit motive are powerful forces in any market; there are very
few (none?) examples that I can think of where an industry has been
successfully regulated to be run to actually minimize revenue/profit over
the long term.  Attempts to achieve this in the past (regardless of the
industry) tend to be undermined on two levels;

1) At the top end there will always be a sector of the market that can
afford and is willing to pay for a premium service. There's no getting
around this - hundreds of years of economic history bears it out. This
leads to a two tier system.

2) The regulated "free" end of the market ultimately suffers from no
longer having a relationship with the premium consumers, who in the case
of publications are also the most important producers. It gets an inferior
reputation and is further undermined as increasing numbers of people
migrate back to premium products, lured by competitive pricing from the
top end.

I'm not suggesting the current system won't be subject to change. I just
wanted to take a step back from debating details of particular systems and
come back to the bigger picture as I think there's a compelling logic
against open access which will only be to the academic communities'
detriment if it is ignored.


Tristan Chapple (UK)

-----Original Message-----
[mailto:owner-liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu] On Behalf Of Joseph Esposito
Sent: 28 April 2005 23:15
To: liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu
Subject: Re: Open Access and For-Pay Access (to the same IR materials)

Subsidizing peer review (that is, prepublication peer review) is like
subsidizing General Motors:  It's a holding action, intended to fend off
the inevitable.  Sooner or later GM will slide into bankruptcy or some
other form of reorganization and we will all wonder why we threw good
money after bad.  Prepublication peer review is an artifact of hardcopy
distribution, which is slow and relatively expensive. With electronic
media peer review will increasingly take place post-publication.  
Software that layers commentary upon publications will take the place of
the current peer review system.  the earliest forms of this evolving
system (which at this time is not even remotely adequate for scholarly
communications) are such things as threaded messages and blogs, which
provide a running commentary on primary publications.  Will this mean that
during the transitional period there will be lot of sloppiness and
improperly filtered publications?  You bet.  But if we weren't willing to
tolerate sloppiness, we never would have clamored for Open Access, which
is the seditious element.

Joe Esposito