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Re: Just who is on the defensive?

On 28 Jan 2007, at 17:40, Stevan Harnad wrote:

Jan, as a publisher, you are to be excused for being so preoccupied with prices and your bottom line. But I hope you will in turn excuse the research community for being more concerned with *access* -- for which there is no need to pay a penny more or less at the moment! All that's needed is keystrokes. And that is what OA, today, is about.
Isn't this a little simplistic and soundbiting, dear Stevan? The discussion would benefit from a more substantive approach. Most publishers are not "preoccupied with prices and bottom line" but have a genuine concern for access as well as for maintaining an economic underpinning of a stable and reliable formal peer-reviewed journal publishing system. Fortunately, most researchers are also concerned with having such a reliable system to provide them not only with access to other researchers' articles, but with a means to get their own articles peer-reviewed and formally published, for the scientific record, for their career prospects, and for communicating their findings and interpretations, in a validated form, to fellow-scientists. Were they, researchers, not concerned with having a reliable journal system, and only with access, they would make a bee-line for repositories and mandates wouldn't be on the agenda.

I advocate open access publishing, with its immediacy and no need for embargoes, now that the internet enables us to do it, because it is a fundamentally better way to publish research results than the traditional subscription model. I make the case to the scientific community and to publishers. Sure, apart from support, I encounter apathy, frustration, and sometimes hostility. On both sides. Solid arguments as to why it is not a better system are, however, lacking. Because it isn't the open access system per se that both publishers and researchers are worried about; it is the question of how to get from where we are now, with the prevailing subscription system, to such an open access publishing system, without getting from the frying pan into the fire.

Applying the bandage and salve of self-archiving is simpler than carrying out the complicated operation of changing the underlying condition, of course, and as palliative care its attraction is quite understandable. But it shouldn't be mistaken for a cure.

Jan Velterop