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Re: Berkeley faculty statement on scholarly publishing


I do see the difference between OA and OA Publishing. But I think that OA
publishing is eventually necessary for primary research results. Good and
helpful as self-archiving may be for OA, it still relies on journals of
some description to work. In its essence, a research journal is no more
than a 'label' that's stitched onto an article, indicating peer-review,
relevance, significance, et cetera.  But it does take an effort and cost
on the part of the journal's publisher to attach that 'label'.

If the journal works on a subscription basis, the necessary money has to
be recouped from subscriptions. If self-archiving of articles published in
subscription journals is successful, the number of subscriptions will
inevitably go down. But not the cost to the publisher. So what happens?
The price per subscription will go up. A substantial part of the price
increases we have seen for decades now is due to the attrition in numbers
of subscriptions.

If the journal publishes OA articles and works on an article charge basis,
paid up front, the sum of those article charges will be directly
proportional to the number of articles published. Cheaper?  Who knows.
More transparent? Definitely.

I see the need for libraries to find savings. But in a fully OA world, I'm
not sure whether or why the cost of article fees should be part of the
library budget anyway. I don't think libraries are an end in themselves.
They are a means to an end. And so is OA. And so are publishers. The end
is probably something like knowledge and its dissemination and transfer.
Sometimes for the sake of knowing; more often in order for society to find
solutions for problems that exist or arise (such as diseases, poverty,
climate change).

I agree with you on author behaviour. I, too, believed that authors would
change the system. I, too, have given up on that. Peter Suber, when
talking about self-archiving in his article in the BMJ last week
(http://bmj.bmjjournals.com/cgi/content/full/330/7500/1097) believes that
authors don't do it because they know too little about self archiving or
believe they are too busy. He may be right. I think it is because the
hassle/benefit ratio is not sufficiently low for them to do it. The
benefits for science as a whole may be great, for individual scientists
they don't seem immediate. They have to survive in the 'publish-or-perish'
ego-system and the things that count are aspirational, like prestige,
impact factor, and practical, like speed of publication. Citation count is
important, too, of course, but is rather long-term. Impact factor you have
the day your article is accepted by a journal with one, whether or not
your article will ever be cited in future. As readers, they are for the
most part as oblivious of the cost of journals as cats are of the cost of

To them it's just provided. They may understand the difference with true
open access, but many don't 'feel' it. Yet the hassle/benefit ratio may
change dramatically if it appears that their funding may be affected. The
perception that that might happen may already be enough.

Funding bodies do not have the career focus of an individual
scientist, and can thus more easily take the wider and longer term
view. To them, although there may be exceptions, it is important to
achieve optimum impact of the research they sponsor, which is greatly
helped by immediate open access. If I were a funder with a mission to
add to society's knowledge and insight (such as a funder typically
does), I would want to have the results of the research I funded made
available as widely as possible. I would not hesitate to make that a
requirement of funding. 'As widely as possible' is key here. With the
internet maturing we know that very wide -- virtually universal --
access is possible. The fact that the prevailing publishing model is
not offering that, doesn't alter that. The fact that major funders

Why is it 'unfortunate' that it makes sense that funders call the shots
(even if they are government agencies)? Isn't it their duty, particularly
if they are government agencies, to get the 'biggest bang for the buck'?
Publishers should be free to stick to the old model. Funders should be
free to demand more. Wise publishers will try to meet that demand. Just to
survive. All they need to do is offer the genuine choice of OA to authors
whose funders want it. Other publishers might take a 'slash-and-burn'
approach: "aprs nous le deluge."

Jan Velterop

On 11 May 2005, at 03:48, David Goodman wrote:

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 demonstrated.

I do not think it impossible.

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