[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: GWLA letter

Thanks to David and Joe for your comments.

One thing that leads me to be very sceptical about OA author fees is that they will replicate the economics of high pricing in traditional subscription model.

Will third world countries be able to foot the tolls required on this model to get published in high prestige journals? Is that not itself a barrier to access, understood as a barrier to disseminate knowledge in high profile journals? Just how much largesse will the commercials be willing to extend in waiving author fees for the poor countries?

Will universities rise to the call? I doubt it, for the reasons David gives, but on the other hand I see the wonderful digital preservation projects that they are engaged in, which in a way give them practice with doing a kind of publishing. And then there are the university presses, but yes, they have to reconceptualize themselves.


David Goodman wrote:

I continue to totally disagree with my friend Brian about this.

Affordable journals have always been possible the Henderson route
of increased library funding, or library refusal to buy the most
expensive titles, or publisher decision to go for long-term
stability and not quarterly profits. None of these benefit anyone
outside universities. All they do is bring the slightly less
wealthy and the smaller universities up to the level of the
largest and most wealthy ones. This is certainly something that
can be done, but it will be done optimally as one of the group of
benefits from OA.

OA is about something much more important: access without
barriers so it doesn't matter which university you're in, if any,
or what your academic status may be, or whether or not you live
near the state university, or whether you're in a poor country
and don't want to be dependent on charity.

It also has the side effect of helping the work of university
libraries. Joe E posted today about sunk costs from systems that
become obsolete. We have put a great deal of effort and money
into dealing with authorization barriers. With OA journals we
wouldn't need SfX. Similarly with Document Delivery systems--we
have developed good ones, and they are expensive, and I still
take pride in having developed a particularly good local
solution. I've worked on this sort of thing most of my working

I've taught student users how to do it. I've taught library
school students how to teach their student users to do it. All of
this is in principle obsolete and unnecessary, and could quickly
be obsolete in reality. I do not regret having done in for the 20
years or so I did, because there was then nothing better. To have
helped researchers during those years was to be of use to
science, just as showing them how to use the print abstracts
services was useful.

I do resent finding it necessary to teach access control systems
to students now, when it is not necessary, when it is only there
because of inability to move rapidly and cooperatively, even when
the optimal direction is known and the amount of money is about
the same.

After many years, I have discovered nothing about universities or
especially university libraries that make them suitable to devise
new ways of publishing.

We do not need new way of publishing. We have publishers. We have
editors. We have e-journals; we have authors and users. We don't
have to reinvent anything. We just have to transfer the same
money in a slightly different direction:nstead of buying
subscriptions, we pay article fees.

Some universities, which can well afford it, will come out
slightly behind others in financially unless there is an
important gain of efficiency. Without the artifical barriers to
productivity, we can work on the real ones.

Dr. David Goodman
Palmer School of Library and Information Science
Long Island University
and formerly
Bibliographer and Research Librarian
Princeton University Library