Re: On the Need to Take Both Roads to Open Access

From: Michael Eisen <mbeisen_at_LBL.GOV>
Date: Wed, 8 Oct 2003 21:05:35 -0700

Thank you!

----- Original Message -----
From: "Richard Durbin" <rd_at_SANGER.AC.UK>
Sent: Wednesday, October 08, 2003 3:40 PM
Subject: Re: On the Need to Take Both Roads to Open Access

> I have been watching this mailing list for some time.
> Although I applaud open archiving, from my point of view open access
> publishing is what is needed in the long run.
> This is because the key property is not that everyone can get at a copy
> of a publication, but rather that people can use information in it
> computationally, producing extracts, syntheses, new indexes etc. This
> is now possible.
> I come from the community that led open release of data in genomics: the
> C.elegans genome mapping then sequencing project, followed by the human
> genome project. The real value of the way that genome data such as the
> human genome sequence is available is that people can use it and build
> on it. Building on publications used to be open, because the only way
> to do it was to read and then write something else (e.g. a review or a
> new paper with a new idea). And a subscription cost was reasonable
> historically because most of the costs were in printing and
> distribution. Now, at least in biological science, a lot of valuable
> data are published in papers in tables and figures, and people are
> developing computational tools that can use this information, and even
> the free text. (See for an example of the latter.)
> So there are ways to use the information in papers for new science, but
> to do this we need much more open access to the literature.
> Research funding is provided to generate outputs that others can build
> on. Funders, and the rest of the system, want publication to be as
> unconstrained as possible, and the only reasons that we haven't yet
> taken advantage of electronic publishing to make things less constrained
> are historical inertia and the commercial interests of some publishers
> (see last week's Wellcome Trust report).
> So, for me, Open Archiving is just a tactical move to keep the
> publishers moving to the larger goal of changing scientific publishing
> to a better and more natural model, which is possible now with the
> network and electronic publishing.
> Richard Durbin
> Head of Informatics, Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute
> Stevan Harnad wrote:
> > Scotomata in the Open Access Movement
> >
> > A blind spot seems to be growing at the *center* (not the edges)
> > of the Open-Access-Publishing (OApub) road to Open Access (OA). OApub is
> > valid and welcome road to OA, but in the minds of many of its proponents
> > the idea seems to have grown that OApub *is* OA, and that *only* OApub
> > is OA.
> >
> > As a result, because OApub also seems to be a much easier concept
> > for researchers to understand than Open-Access Self-Archiving (OAarch),
> > and because this easier concept has now also trickled through to some
> > research funding bodies, legislators, and even the popular press --
> > Open Access (OA) itself, despite the superficial signs of its growth
> > and progress, is now again at risk of being detoured into yet another
> > decade of needless delay.
> >
> >
> > Part of the problem is that OApub has at least three substantial hurdles
> > to surmount:
> >
> > (OApub-1) OA journals have to be created/converted
> >
> >
> > (OApub-2) Funding sources must be found for paying the author
> > for publishing in those OA journals (hence the "Bethesda Statement"
> > ), and
> >
> > (OApub-3) Authors must be persuaded to publish in those OA journals
> > (hence the Sabo Bill
> > ).
> >
> > This would all be fine and as it should be were it anywhere near the
> > truth that OApub was indeed the only, or easiest, or most direct,
> > or surest road to OA. But none of that is the case! Not only
> > is there another road, but that other road is easier, more direct,
> > and surer. It calls for only one step, not three or more, namely:
> >
> > (OAarch-1) Authors must be persuaded to self-archive.
> >
> > The archives are already there (but near-empty) for the making or
> > taking. At least 55% of publishers already support OAarch, and no
> > funding or journal-creation, -conversion, or -renunciation is needed.
> >
> >
> > But if one is strongly committed to OApub as the *only* road to achieve
> > OA, or the main one, one will not have any inclination to stress the
> > *other* road to OA, let alone that it is faster, easier, more direct
> > or surer!
> >
> > Worse, OAarch may not be just a blind spot for OApub: it may even be
> > perceived as an obstacle by some OApub advocates: For unless OAarch can
> > somehow be minimized or dismissed as an unstable, anarchic, impractical,
> > even *illegal* non-starter, there is a chance that OApub advocates may
> > have to face the possibility that putting all or even most of the
> > on OApub would be premature, and that OAarch, apart from being the surer
> > road to immediate OA, might even be the surer road to eventual OApub!
> >
> > I think the dual OA algorithm
> >
> > (1) publish your articles in an open-access journal wherever
> > (<5%)
> > and
> > (2) self-archive the rest of your articles (>95%)
> >
> > captures the true realities and possibilities and probabilities, and in
> > their true proportions.
> >
> >
> >
> > But OApub leaves OAarch entirely out of its unilateral strategies and
> > desiderata -- or, worse, OApub portrays OAarch merely as a way to
> > the archiving and access burdens of OApub journals!
> >
> > I have been on the OA circuit a long time. I have a good sense by now of
> > the maddeningly slow and slow-witted pace of progress toward OA, and
> > how Zeno's Paralysis, mutating in a Protean way with every apparent
> > step forward, keeps conspiring to side-track our progress toward this
> > long overdue and long accessible goal.
> >
> >
> > It is accordingly important that all open-eyed open-access advocates
> > now try to do everything we can to make sure that the 95% solution is
> > *understood* to be the 95% solution that it is, and is given 95% of the
> > open-access-seeking community's attention and efforts. The money is not
> > with us -- I don't have the PLoS's $9 million, nor even the BOAI's 3 --
> > but fortunately OAarch does not depend on money but only on
> > and the action flowing naturally from that understanding.
> >
Received on Thu Oct 09 2003 - 05:05:35 BST

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