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Re: Berkeley faculty statement on scholarly publishing

Jan, Phil, David, and Francois, among others, have raised some good

As Jan says, what OA is really all about is the benefits to science (and
scholarly knowledge to general), rather than the finances.

Let's assume the worst-case scenario:  OA actually costs a given research
university more.  (Okay, I still think this is a preposterous idea - it
costs money to keep people from reading articles in electronic format, but
for the sake of argument).  Even then, all researchers will benefit from
an optimum environment.  If the university needs more money, because it is
doing more good to society, would this not be an excellent argument for
additional funding, whether from government funders, or charitable donors
- such as alumni, one of the many groups who will benefit greatly from OA?

As Phil, David, & Jan point out, this data is quite rough and meant to
inspire discussion and further research, not hard data on which to base
firm conclusions.  Phil figures that his numbers may have been low, due to
miscalculation of the proportion of journals included in ISI.  My
suggestion is that the number of extremely prolific journals - the Physics
Reviews of the world - are very well represented in ISI, while the small
humanities journal that produces a tiny fraction of the articles, are
likely less represented.  Therefore, I think Phil was more accurate in his
initial estimate that his correction.

Francois points out that people may well be willing to pay more, in an
author-pays scenario, for journal branding.  I think this is very true -
PLoS is top-end, and people are likely to be willing to pay the $1,500 per
article to be published in a PLoS journal.

The scenario I think rather unlikely, is that if one journal provides top
notch peer review, editing, and publishing services in the $500 - $1,500
per article range (in STM), while another journal charges $3,000 - $10,000
per article, that universities, funders, or authors will cheerfully pay
much higher prices for essentially the same services.  The variation in
cost/benefit would be much more obvious in an input-based funding model
than it is with subscription-based funding.

Perhaps I'm wrong - maybe there are many universities out there, unlikely
the ones I'm familiar with, that have the kind of financial resources that
allow them to purchase services on a "cost is no object"  basis.  The
folks I know, however, are expected to budget and spend those scarce
university dollars with great care.

a personal view by,

Heather G. Morrison