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RE: Berkeley faculty statement on scholarly publishing

Dear Jan,

In your posting, you seem to still identify OA with OA Journals. Now that
you no longer represent a publisher of OA Journals, you can appropriately
take a broader view.

It is clearly true that the switch from subscription journals to OA
Journals will not save money beyond the savings in transaction cost, and
the possible competition for lower author fees. Those who find such
savings are examining small-scale amateur production, which is appropriate
for some titles, but not the larger, more important, and more expensive.

You are of course totally correct that the appeal of OA Journals is not
cost savings, but the other manifold advantages of OA. Those who look for
a system that is substantially less expensive to operate must look

Why do many academic libraries wish to look elsewhere?

Basically, a system costing as much as the present system is not
affordable over the long run. If a system can be devised that would limit
annual cost increases to the expected rate of library budget increases
(optimistically, that means between 0% and 3%) then they might be. I think
for any system based on OA Journals to prove viable, this needs to be

I do not think it impossible.

There is first of all the possibility of technical advances, but I do not
see that a system free of manual intervention can be possible, which
inevitably restricts the savings.

There is second the realization that most scholarly articles might not
justify the expenses of full-scale professional journals. The much less
expensive mode of publishing via an Article Database might be sufficient.
(These might equally well take the form of upgraded IRs, of disciplinary
repositories or of national archives;  the argument between them is
needless, there being opportunity for all.)

I recognize the problem of a dual track publication system, and the
inevitable pressure from academic administrators for articles to be
published in the higher prestige system. Possibly there is no way of
avoiding it except the Draconian one of changing _all_ publication to
Article Databases.

There is third the possibility that the higher cost publishers might
approach the efficiencies of non-profit publishers. This will only happen
libraries stop subscribing to high cost journals, even if they have a
residual amount of use; this would compel them to either sharply reduce
costs or become merely expensive vanity publishers in which articles may
be published, but will not be read. The financial resources of some such
publishers may permit them to continue even with almost no subscriptions,
but even the richest privately owned ones cannot do this indefinitely.
Unfortunately, there is good reason to fear that if any money is thus made
available, some of the larger non-profit publishers will increase prices
to absorb it; this has the potential to defeat any savings.

For many years we have been saying that only a change in author behavior
will change the system. I have given up on this happening.  The pressures
on academic authors are such that they will publish with no regard to the
burden they are imposing.  Libraries could have forced the change long
ago, but have all considered themselves to be without the support of the
faculty, who consistently have asked for more than can be afforded. To
administrators libraries may have appeared as infinite sinks of money, but
to the faculty they have appeared infinite sources. I have yet to see the
faculty declaration of principles that is accompanied by the action it
calls for.

The real change seems to be occurring at the hand of government agencies;
as they are the ultimate source of funds, this does unfortunately make
sense. It does tie us to their agenda. If the NIH sees OA as a mere
byproduct of their intent to republish journal articles to fit their
administrative needs, they will do just that.

David Goodman
Associate Professor of Library and Information Science
Long Island University

-----Original Message-----
From: owner-liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu on behalf of Jan Velterop
Sent: Mon 5/9/2005 9:43 PM
To: liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu
Subject: 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