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Re: Berkeley faculty statement on scholarly publishing

The recent exchanges on this list prompt me to make two points:

a) It is unfortunate that much of the discussion about OA seems to be
primarily about financial implications. They will undoubtedly be important
to some, but the benefits of OA to science, and for at least some
disciplines (such as the medical sciences) to society as a whole, rather
transcend financial ones. Even if we assume that the aggregate cost to
academia if all journals were OA is the same as it is now for the more
traditional journal literature, we would not spend more, yet have the
benefit of OA that we won't have in the traditional model. Indeed, one
could argue that the benefits of OA might justify a higher aggregate cost.
It is this focus on cost reduction that prevents many scholarly societies
to even contemplate offering OA, as they fear erosion of their income.
This is not good for science and scholarship.

b) There is a problem with 'evidence-based' in this discussion. It is not
primarily the problem that Anthony identifies with the absence of
evidence-based literature about OA. It is with the fact that we are not
dealing with some quasi natural phenomena that lend themselves to
prediction on the basis of evidence, but rather with behavioural changes.
The caveat of "past behaviour is no guarantee of future behaviour" must
apply. As well as the caveat of being very careful when drawing
conclusions from experiments with more than one variable (such as OA *and*
being a new journal *and* having no Impact Factor).  There have been
precious few experiments with just one variable which could be regarded as
'evidence-based'. The Nucleic Acids Research one comes to mind as a most
credible one, being an established title, with an Impact Factor, now
offering OA, and that can be interpreted as a success for OA (see
http://www3.oup.co.uk/nar/special/14/ default.html).

Jan Velterop