Re: Central vs. Distributed Archives

From: Dr.Vinod Scaria <>
Date: Fri, 31 Oct 2003 18:40:33 +0000

Stevan Harnad wrote:

> Just as it was counterproductive to villify toll-access publishers
> (instead of either founding open-access journals or self-archiving),
> so it is counterproductive to villify open-access publishers (instead
> of either founding competing open-acecss journals or self-archiving).

It is also counterproductive to ignore the authors from the developing
world who have been always kept away from the mainstream.
I am not against the "author pays " model, but just against the lack of
flexibility in operation.Majority of researchers in developing countries
have never had the luxury of being funded. [our own study (unpublished)
on authors publishing in top Indian Journals indexed in MEDLINE shows
more than 90% have had no funding for their research and those who had
it , had something like a miniscule fraction of what is considered as
*funding* in the developed countries]. This would simply mean they would
never be able to pay from their funds!.

There could be other viable models- like paying a fixed percentage of
funds for publishing. This would sound more aesthetic to researchers too.
This would also mean publishers could easily subsidize for research from
developing countries as well as researchers from Developed countries who
are not funded.

> So is the "monopolistic" objection that BMC and PLoS have more start-up
> support, giving them an advantage over journals without that support,
> or is the objection that they have an "author pays" model, unaffordable
> for some authors?

The heavy start up support gives them a clear edge over new
and existing publishers. PLoS Biology would not have received
the popularity and access [the traffic nearly broght down
their elegant homepage to just a couple of links on the day of
inauguration]. And the PLoS fund was better used to support lobbying -- -- rather
than entering into neck-to-neck fight with existing publishers. If it was
really interested in supporting open Access, it should have supported
Journal of Biology, an Open Access Journal from BMC.

> And the same can be said about volunteer-service-based journals:
> It is too early to say whether they can last on volunteerism alone,
> let alone whether volunteerism can scale up to all 24,000 refereed
> journals!

Just imagine the scalability if the Internet was monopolised by
come company! The whole spectrum of resources we access with a
click was created by volunteerism, donations and public money.
Does PubMed/PubMedCentral make any profit?

> Perhaps a far better choice would have been to require all your authors
> to (1) try to self-archive their articles at their own institutions, and
> only in those cases where that failed, (2) to self-archive them in
> CogPrints or another suitable OAI-compliant archive. Offloading the
> self-archiving task onto the distributed authorship instead of the
> journal staff would take some of the load off the volunteer efforts
> (hence costs) involved!
> That policy would also have the benefit of spreading the practise of
> self-archiving by authors, as well as archive-provision by their
> institutions.

And yes! we actually plan to provide the authors with PDF reprints which
they could archive on their own. We did it ourselves just because we
need to see the whole thing gets started. We are also encouraging authors
to republish them on their institutional websites/repositories or their
own websites in addition to our existing archive at Cogprints.

> These are the vulnerabilities of new journals; they have nothing to do
> with open-access.

The sudden disappearance of a journal website would not have
made it so desparate if it was open access and someone would have
copied it somewhere [ some of the JMIR articles are available at [I own and maintain this site] after it
became open. I have also seen a number of similar websites offering JMIR
content]. This would mean one could access it just by searching for the
keywords on Google or any major search engine for that matter. At the same
time, that would not be the situation in a journal which is toll-access.

Dr. Vinod Scaria
Tel: +91 98474 65452
Received on Fri Oct 31 2003 - 18:40:33 GMT

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