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

Hi Phil Davis,

I am a currently a library science student and I'm very interested in this topic. I understand the argument for Green OA and Gold OA, but I admit to being confused by arguments against it. Mr. Davis, since I am coming from a library perspective, I don't have a background in R&D funding and would like clarification. From my limited point of view, it seems that R&D money would still be given to researchers regardless of how or where they publish their research. How is R&D money lessened by OA? It seems that, at most, it would just not be redirected towards other research costs but simply cut -- which does not hurt the researcher but helps libraries.

If the library publishes it (Green OA), then the library absorbs the cost of publishing through personal hiring and repository upkeep. This money will probably come from the college's budget, not from a grant (this is currently how I observe Green OA operating in libraries). It seems that the idea is that eventually this cost would be justifiable for the library because in the long run it would save money on subscriptions.

If an article is published under the Gold OA system, then the only additional cost beyond the Green system for publication is for peer-reviewing. Since those in the academic community regularly agree to peer-review things for free, why would this necessarily cost money? What would prevent non-profit societies from forming and doing this service for free (since it contributes to tenure etc.)? Currently I review books for Library Journal for free and all I get is a byline. I would certainly do this for Library Journal if it were just a non-profit website that did not publish if it still had the same group of professionals supporting it. If the added cost for R&D that you refer to comes from maintaining and organizing such a society, then couldn't professional organizations, which maintain themselves through membership fees, serve the same function?

I can easily imagine that in a Gold OA system, the money that was previously spent on publishing (Do R&D grants pay money to the publishers currently? What cost is being referred to here?) might not be redirected towards researchers. However, it's easy for me to imagine not having to spend astronomically huge amounts of money on access to electronic journal subscriptions for our library that we don't even get to technically own in the long run.

I looked at the articles that you referred to here, but I'm having trouble putting the dots together. Since this topic is so new, I'm also finding that sources I locate on my own are either overly simplistic or so technical that I cannot get a comprehensive picture of the problem. Can you recommend a summary of your argument that Gold OA will negatively impact researchers for a novice (not to libraries, but to R&D funding)? You may reply to me on or off list. Thanks.

April Younglove
Technical Services Specialist
Linfield College Library, Portland Campus
503-413-7448, ayoungl@linfield.edu

--On Wednesday, May 16, 2007 5:35 PM -0400 Phil Davis <pmd8@cornell.edu>

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

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