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RE: Reed Elsevier results

1.It seems like this response conflates unlike things to make a 
point.  Growth can certainly be dramatic without yet 
marginalizing an old model, and that model may or may not 
eventually be marginalized on a long time scale.  My personal 
viewpoint is that this is neither a major nor a necessary 
"strand" in OA advocacy.  There's a lot of advocates from a lot 
of different standpoints, though, so yes, I've seen it in the mix 
too.  I liked Suber's take on this area of discussion in his 
recent interview.

If we were to indulge in a thought experiment, I'd guess such 
marginalization would occur at a tipping point, and dramatically: 
first other models are trialed, then successful models and 
variants are pursued, then cooperative and collaborative efforts 
expand (we may be entering the heyday of these now, see recent 
developments) leading to more practical group-supported efforts, 
then a group decision at a high level is perhaps made to do a 
hard cut-over.  I personally don't see this as probable, if only 
because there's a lot of moving pieces, each with their own 
effects.  I'd guess we'll be dealing with lots of models for some 
time to come, but change will continue.

...in any case, it seems silly to me to think that there's an 
either/or as a necessary condition here.  OA journals have grown 
dramatically -- some are very good (some not -- as with 
commercial journals) -- some formerly for-profit and society 
journals have chosen to become OA.  Some money is spent 
supporting the OA journals and some experience gained.  Some 
money is saved since these are not subscribed... 'sall good as 
long as the experience accrues and the efforts evolve and do have 

2.I think I read this once long ago, but I'm thinking more about 
your posts and the SK.

3.There are vocal advocates for green OA better prepared than I 
to take this up.  (Sorry, I noticed that, in my haste, I wrote 
gold where I meant green in my original message to you ... this 
is the problem with dashing out a note, but I think you 
understood me anyway)


5.I think only a handful of the largest university publishers 
have that option.  I'm not an expert.  Seems like the argument 
for smaller university publishers has more to do with what 
sources of subvention are most sustainable.  I'm only partly 
kidding.  Seems to me they have to keep moving.  Anyway, this is 
neither here nor there from my standpoint (we may be talking past 
each other).

On a parallel track:  I tend to like models of library journal 
publishing best, in that they seem to require the least overhead 
-- not so much for the purpose of marginalizing anything, but 
because they support scholarship, seem to be very cost-effective, 
and perhaps help lead libraries to do more things better which 
they should be doing (not just journals, but DH, e-research, data 
hosting etc., digital object hosting etc., and so on ... this is 
where much skill development and infrastructure effort need to 

6.There's no doubt some commercial publishers behave as greedy 
despots and so they were bound to call forth legions of committed 
opponents -- I started off thinking of this as historical 
empiricism and ended by imagining luke skywalker, so you may be 
at least a little right.  I've seen you summon up the words 
theological and idealogical in the past to describe these hordes. 
This has always struck as we/them labeling.  In reality, I think 
there are lots of people casting about for a rational solution 
(set of solutions)  in sometimes desperate seeming circumstances.

I think your longer response was much more considered than your 
original response or at least more nuanced and I appreciate it. 
I'm sorry myself that I can't do more than dash something off...


-----Original Message-----
From: owner-liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu
[mailto:owner-liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu] On Behalf Of Joseph Esposito
Sent: Thursday, August 04, 2011 8:05 PM
To: liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu
Subject: Re: Reed Elsevier results

Responding to both Ken and Nathaniel:

1.Insofar as one strand of the argument for OA publishing is that 
it will marginalize commercial publishers, the "dramatic" growth 
of OA is incompatible with profit growth from commercial 
publishers.  If you believe (as I do) that OA can grow AND 
commercial publishers can become even more profitable, in part by 
coopting OA publishing, then there is no conflict.

2.I am on record as being an advocate of OA publishing.  See my 
essay in FirstMonday:




That essay was published in 2004.  I made some predictions there, 
that author-pays models would flourish, that commercial 
publishers would coopt OA, and that over time the total cost of 
scholarly publishing would rise.  All of these things have begun 
to come true.  The notion that I am somehow opposed to OA is 
nonsense.  I spent much of my summer working with a client in 
creating the plans for an OA service.

3.Green OA, on the other hand, stands on shaky economic ground.

4.I am aware of many initiatives by libraries to reduce costs 
that have nothing to do with OA.  Particularly fascinating is the 
growth of PDA.  The trend lines for library staffing do not 
suggest that libraries are bloated organizations.

5.Another model, practiced only by Oxford and Cambridge as far as 
I know, is to think of publishing as a source of revenue to help 
fund a university's research activity. I think that is the most 
prudent step a university can make.  I have argued this point 




6.The real issue is that some advocates of OA are caught up in a 
theological battle.  That's plain silly.  It should be possible 
to critique an aspect of OA publishing without being lumped with 
greedy despots.

Joe Esposito

On Wed, Aug 3, 2011 at 2:23 PM, Nathaniel M. Gustafson-Sundell 
<n-gustafson-sundell@northwestern.edu> wrote:

> I wonder why you lobby so hard against OA efforts if they are 
> so ineffective?  Anyway, Elsevier's products on strongly 
> established legacy products really say nothing about library 
> cost-management strategies.  You are probably not talking about 
> the full range of cost-management strategies, but just the ones 
> that you are predisposed to disagree with, such as OA 
> approaches, both green and gold.  I would argue that these 
> strategies, or trials really (as they are both fairly young in 
> the history of the business they are changing), have so far 
> been surprisingly effective.
> If we want an honest discussion on or around the grounds of 
> this thread, we should look at Elsevier profits on journals 
> established within the past 15 years (I bet there's a loss) and 
> we should look at what it would cost libraries to pay 
> commercial firms for access to the journal titles that are 
> currently OA (those thousands of titles that have been 
> established in the past 15 years) -- we should also think about 
> where costs in general might be without the yardstick of OA 
> journals, given the hokey that gets said about what it costs to 
> run peer review and to do copy editing.  I know this leaves 
> gold OA aside and there's a lot more to be said, but I think 
> there's enough here for a discussion.
> -Nat