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Re: Challenge to "OA" Publishers Who Oppose OA Self-Archiving Mandates

This is a helpful summary of where the OA debate stands with respect to STM journal publishing, but there are some simplifications here. E.g., those publishers that are implementing partial OA are blending the Gold OA model with the traditional subscription model; this is sustainable as long as the subscriptions remain at a high enough level to cover a large chunk of the costs, and there is no threat here to the overall business model of STM publishers. Indeed, if those publishers do not lower their subscription prices in some proportion to the increase in their Gold OA content, they are actually making more money overall!

Another simplification is that allowing Green OA is not an either/or proposition. Some of us have no problem with author self-archiving of everything up to the final copyedited version, but draw the line there to protect the business model underlying a worthy venture like Project Muse.

Finally, Stevan assumes that publishers will not take action until they are presented with some kind of incontrovertible proof that their business model can't be sustained in a fully Green or Gold OA system. Scientists may demand "evidence" of this kind; it is less clear that businesses operate in this purely rational way. It is also not simply a question of sustainability pure and simple: some publishers may decide to get out of the business because their profit margin cannot be as great just providing peer-review support services. The opportunities for their capital investments may look brighter elsewhere, under these constrained conditions.

That's why I continue to dispute Stevan's assumption that this change will be gradual rather than some business equivalent of "punctuated equilibrium."

Sandy Thatcher
Penn State Prfess

The online age has given birth to a very profound conflict of
interest between what is best for (1) the research journal
publishing industry, on the one hand, and, on the other hand,
what is best for (2) research, researchers, universities,
research institutions, research funders, the vast research and
development (R&D) industry, and the tax-paying public that funds
the research.

It is no one's fault that this conflict of interest has emerged.
It was a consequence of the revolutionary new power and potential
for research that was opened up by the Web era. What is at stake
can also be put in very concrete terms:

      (1) hypothetical risk of future losses in publisher revenue
      (2) actual daily losses in research usage and impact

The way in which this conflict of interest will need to be
resolved is also quite evident: The research publishing industry
is a service industry. It will have to adapt to what is best for
research, and not vice versa. And what is best for research,
researchers, universities, research institutions, research
funders, the R&D industry and the tax-paying public in the online
age is: Open Access (free online access).

The research publishing industry lobby of course does not quite
see it this way. It is understandable that their first commitment
is to their own business interests, hence to what is best for
their bottom lines, rather than to something else, such as Open
Access, and what is best for research and researchers.

But what is especially disappointing, if not deplorable, is when
so-called "Open Access" publishers take exactly the same stance
against Open Access (OA) itself (sic) that conventional
publishers do. Conventional publisher opposition to OA will be
viewed, historically, as having been a regrettable,
counterproductive (and eventually countermanded) but
comprehensible strategy, from a purely business standpoint. OA
publisher opposition to OA, however, will be seen as having been
self-deluded if not hypocritical.