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

Re: No, Mandating Self-Archiving Is Not Like Invading Iraq! Part II

I haven't seen Part III yet, Stevan, but let me add just a few points to clarify my meaning.

I didn't intend for the Bush analogy to be "alarmist" in the sense you read into it. On the contrary, if anything, I'm supporting your point that universities should be doing everything they can now to put into place a system (whether based on self-archiving or something else--but who pays for CrossRef?) that will actually be able to function if the hypothesized withdrawal of large STM publishers were to happen suddenly, not be lulled into thinking that change will be gradual and will allow time for all parts of the system to readjust without undergoing any great transition pains if FRPAA were to turn out to be the "tipping point" after all.

I still think you are being way too optimistic to think that the system will reach an equilibrium again quickly and painlessly. I don't question that many people will see that funds will need to be reallocated from one purpose (subscriptions) to another (author fees). But I have lived in a university environment long enough (40 years) to realize how difficult change is to effect. Again, I remind you that many, many people have long recognized that the tenure-and-promotion system is not working the way it should, but it has been extremely difficult to bring about change of any major kind. See the new MLA Report.

It will be especially difficult to make the transition work smoothly if we have for an extended period of time a mixed system with subscriptions continuing for some journals while OA takes over others. Librarians may not so readily want to give up their funding for subscriptions when there are still many to pay for; or they may want to take advantage of having more funds to allocate to buying monographs, where their collections have suffered because of the burden of STM journal costs. Will it again come down to a struggle between scientists asking, this time, for libraries to pay their author fees instead of buying more books for the humanists? Will the outcome necessarily be the same? It's not a simple matter, I think.

I'm worrying, too, not just about what will happen with journals but what the effects on monograph publishing will be. In humanities, at least, it can't continue to happen that more and more journal literature is more widely accessible because available online, while the monograph literature is ever more segregated and confined to a small number of printed books. This goes against the grain of the interconnected web that knowledge wants to be. But, then, how does OA come to monographs? There I see the issue of author fees being a lot more difficult to resolve because the level of magnitude of cost ($20,000 to $25,000 for an average monograph exclusive of all costs associated with its physical format) is much higher. Maybe universities, in hiring junior faculty on the tenure track, will need to throw in $50,000 up front as a subsidy to get two books published as a requirement for tenure? Somehow I suspect that the correlation between book purchases by the libraries and subsidies required for publishing faculty won't be quite so neat here, but I could be wrong. This system would have the advantage--as, indeed, OA does in journal publishing--of putting the burden for any purchase of a print form of the publication on the end user as an optional cost. That's the beauty of print-on-demand. technology for books.

--Sandy Thatcher
Penn State Press