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RE: Self-Archiving and Journal Subscriptions: Critique of PRC Study

> While I can agree with much of what Rick Anderson says here, his
> last sentence is puzzling. As one of the serious problems of Gold
> OA he quotes "the significant amount of money that a widespread
> Gold OA solution would redirect from needed research."
> How so? Why would publishing become more expensive when the way
> to sustain it changes? If one thinks that Gold OA would redirect
> a significant amount of money away from needed research, what
> about subscriptions? Don't subscriptions do the same? Doesn't any
> money that sustains journals?

The money that currently supports commercial journals comes from 
library budgets and from individual subscribers, not from 
granting agencies.  If all of the expensive journals to which my 
library subscribes were suddenly to move to an author-funded OA 
publishing model (and therefore become freely available to the 
public), the most likely scenario is that my institution would 
(quite rationally) drastically cut the library budget.  The 
savings would be redirected to other areas of the university 
where they are sorely needed, and authors would write their 
publication costs into their grant proposals.  Money from 
granting agencies that would have supported research will thereby 
end up subsidizing free public access to the research results.

Is that a good thing or a bad thing?  It depends: will the 
general public benefit more from universal free access to a 
smaller amount of research or from toll-based access to more 
research?  The answer may vary -- but there's no way that 
redirecting research funds towards publication can fail to reduce 
the amount of research done.

Rick Anderson
Dir. of Resource Acquisition
University of Nevada, Reno Libraries