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Re: message to liblicense-l

How is "political will" going to "redirect" the income stream that comes from private companies now in the form of subscriptions for their R&D departments when they will be "free riders" on a pure OA system? Sure, they'll be happy to pay fees for their own researchers to publish in STM journals, but my guess is that they pay a lot more into the system now than they would through author fees in an OA system. What kind of "political" solution is there to this potential problem of underfunding?

Sandy Thatcher
Penn State Press


I have to admit that I don't know what the precise definition is of 'a lot' (neither do I know what Scrubs is or how you can turn it off -- and perhaps we should keep it that way), but I think we can safely state that for most articles there are more readers than authors (some of the articles in Arxiv, with hundreds of authors, may well be exceptions to this). The issue is not so much that there are many readers 'out there' for most articles, because there are most probably not, but the issue is the assumption that all potential 'real' readers are at institutions that have a subscription to the articles in question and not 'out there' without access.

The Shakespeare quote is very amusing, but isn't the question more something like this: "If I pay for an insurance policy, will I get an accident?" Precisely because you don't know you take out insurance. Precisely because we don't know who can or will read specific scientific research articles we ought to have open access.

We need to find a way for journals to provide economically sustainable open access. The fact that we don't have open access is a kind of 'collateral damage' of the traditional subscription system. With the internet and its functionalities we can have structural and economically feasible open access as soon as we have enough political will to redirect the existing money streams for scientific literature. Maybe political will is one of those spirits that won't come when you call them. You may have a point there.

Jan Velterop