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

Gold OA may be a zero-sum game (as Jan Veltrop argues) if we merely substitute subscription revenues with author charges. But as the National Science Foundation reports, "most academic R&D is now, and has been historically, concentrated in relatively few of the 3,600 U.S. institutions of higher education. If institutions are ranked by their 2003 R&D expenditures, the top 200 institutions account for about 95% of R&D expenditures that year." [1]

Which means that in a Gold OA funding model, these 3,400 remaining institutions (who receive only about 5% of the national research funding) will contribute far less into the Gold OA publishing stream than they currently do in the subscription model. Where will the shortfall come from? Rick Anderson got it right ... it will come from the research stream.

I'm not sure why individuals continue to contest the rather obvious point that a Gold OA model will severely impact a small subset of institutions [2-4], and that this money will ultimately come at the expense of research dollars. Rather, the real argument is whether such a redistribution of funds is both fair and just.

In this sense, both sides have strong, but incompatible, arguments. Open Access can be framed as public accountability, or as social justice. It can be an argument against elitism in higher education that drives 95% of public research dollars to less than 6% of institutions. It can also be an argument against reducing government spending on research, or against government intrusion into how science is communicated. Both sides are right. This is not an argument about data, but an argument about values.

--Phil Davis

[1] Distribution of R&D Funds Across Academic Institutions

[2] Report of the Cornell University Library Task Force on Open Access

[3] Calculating the Cost per Article in the Current Subscription Model

[4] Walters, W.H. Institutional journal costs in an open access
environment. JASIST, v58 n1 pp108-120. DOI: 10.1002/asi.20441

At 05:42 PM 5/15/2007, Jan Veltrop wrote:
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?

Isn't the logical conclusion then that sustaining formal
publishing is, by definition, because it always involves
resources, redirecting those resources away from research? Is
Rick arguing that publishing can't be seen as integral to
research and that therefore any funds used to sustain publishing
come at the expense of research?