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RE: BioMed Central's open letter to the UK Science Minister, responding to inaccurate comments about open access.


I couldn't agree more that the figures in such surveys need to be
interpreted with a great deal of caution.

The caveat in the survey says :

"This finding needs to be interpreted with caution: parallel research by
Elsevier suggests that up to 65% of authors may confuse the concept of
`open access' journals with toll journals that are freely available to
them at the point of use."

Since no reference is given, it's not easy to know how to interpret that
statement, or what kind of evidence Elsevier has that authors are confused
in this way with respect to open access. Note that even if some authors
may initially make that misunderstanding, the CIBER survey provides
extensive context through its questions about open access as a new model
of publishing, which seems to me to make it unlikely that many authors
would have completely misunderstood what was meant by open access
publishing, when they responded to that question.

More importantly, though, in the letter BioMed Central was citing the
statistics from the consecutive CIBER surveys in 2004 and 2005, to make
one point and one point only - that Open Access appears, from the evidence
available, to be a growing phenomenon, not one that has, to use Lord
Sainsbury's term, "peaked". And so the point is not the absolute figures
involved (which I agree are subject to various caveats), but the growth
from year to year. Even if some fraction of authors did misinterpret the
question each time, the growth in those responding 'Yes' from year to year
seems pretty unambiguous.

Best regards,

Matthew Cockerill, Ph.D. 
BioMed Central ( http://www.biomedcentral.com/ ) 
Email: matt@biomedcentral.com 

> -----Original Message-----
> [mailto:owner-liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu]On Behalf Of 
> Anthony Watkinson
> Sent: 31 October 2005 00:21
> Subject: Re: BioMed Central's open letter to the UK Science Minister,
> responding to inaccurate comments about open access.
> I have not been able to check out the statistics given in this open
> letter, but I am amazed that BMC should state without qualification that
> 29% of senior authors responding to the latest CIBER survey actually had
> published in an OA journal. The actual text is on page 30 of the report
> of the survey at http://www.ucl.ac.uk/ciber/ciber_2005_survey_final.pdf.
> In this report there is a qualification. It seems very likely indeed
> that a significant proportion of these authors thought they were
> publishing in an OA journal just because for them the journal was free
> at the point of use.
> Is this special pleading by me? I do not think so because I would
> suggest that a simple calculation would show that not enough OA papers
> were published out of the number of total papers published to make 29%
> possible. I am sure that someone with a grasp of the appropriate
> methodology could actually calculate why it is impossible.
> Anthony Watkinson