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RE: Berkeley faculty statement on scholarly publishing


Do you also deplore the money that NIH is currently spending on page
charges and colour figure charges?  Money (in the region of $40 million a
year, I believe) that is surely 'a diversion of research funding and a net
loss for science.' Or can you point us to the evidence that justifies the
public policy of making funds available to cover such charges?

Also, can you explain why you equate open access with 'shoveling out reams
and reams of manuscripts'?  It is a formulation that I've not seen before
and do not recognise as being an aim of any open access advocate.


David C Prosser PhD, Director
SPARC Europe
E-mail:  david.prosser@bodley.ox.ac.uk

-----Original Message-----
[mailto:owner-liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu] On Behalf Of Peter Banks
Sent: 13 May 2005 05:42
To: matt@biomedcentral.com; liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu
Subject: RE: Berkeley faculty statement on scholarly publishing

"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."

To the naive--that is, most journalists and members of Congress--such
statements seem highly plausable. A few percent? Chump change in the
research enterprise!

Except it isn't chump change, it's a diversion of research funding and a
net loss for science. Anyone who thinks that the "few percent" will be
added to, rather than taken from, Federal research funding hasn't looked
at the federal budget lately. From now into the forseeable future,
prospects for increased support for scientific research are bleak.

Here are the figures for NIH:

  FY 2004 Actual  $28,036 M
  FY 2005 Appropriation  $28,594 M   (1.9%)
  FY 2006 Program Level  $28,845 M  (0.7%)
  Total Number of RPGs   38,746 (402 under FY 2005)

For every 1% of RPG funding diverted to Open Access, there is a loss of
about $15.5 M in RPG funding.

Conducting less research to support open access might make sense were
there strong evidence to support the contention that OA will "dramatically
increase the effectiveness of scientific communication, and therefore will
help the progress of science." So far, however, that proposition rests on
faith, not evidence. Effective communication does not consist in shoveling
out reams and reams of manuscripts; it consists in devilvering information
in a way and at a time that empowers crtical decision making, whether in
patient care or research. Just as we now insist upon evidence-based
medicine, we need to insist on evidence based informatics. A major public
policy initative like OA needs more evidence behind it that has so far
been presented.

Peter Banks
American Diabetes Association
1701 North Beauregard Street
Alexandria, VA 22311
FAX 703/683-2890
Email: pbanks@diabetes.org