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RE: Berkeley faculty statement on scholarly publishing

David Goodman wrote:

> 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 demonstrated.

There is an assumption being made here that the cost of publishing
scientific reseach articles must inevitably be met from library budgets.
Certainly library budgets do not appear to be increasing at the same pace
as scientific research budgets, and are therefore not keeping pace with
the growth of scientific output - this is at least part of the reason for
the "serials crisis".

But major biomedical funders such as Wellcome, NIH and Howard Hughes
envision a solution to this problem. They have indicated that they believe
that the cost of publication should be seen as an inherent part of the
cost of doing research, and should come from research budgets.

As the Bethesda Statement says:

"Our organizations sponsor and nurture scientific research to promote the
creation and dissemination of new ideas and knowledge for the public
benefit. We recognize that publication of results is an essential part of
scientific research and the costs of publication are part of the cost of
doing research."

Seen in that context, the cost of scientific publishing, even with the
existing inefficiencies, is relatively affordable, in that it amounts only
to a few percent of the overall cost of what the funders spend doing the
scientific research in the first place.

The major problem is not primarily the overall cost of the current system
of scientific publishing, but the fact that currently, even after all that
money has been spent to support the publication process, the research
doesn't end up being generally and openly available to the scientific
community. This greatly inhibits the free flow of information, and thefore
inhibits the progress of science.

Open Access publishing, by making costs more transparent, will no doubt
drive the overall cost of scientific publishing down, but that is almost
an incidental benefit. The most significant thing about Open Access is
that it will dramatically increasing the effectiveness of scientific
communication, and therefore will help the progress of science.


Matt Cockerill
Matthew Cockerill, Ph.D. 
Director of Operations
BioMed Central