Draft letter for institutions to sign to implement Berlin Declaration

From: Stevan Harnad <harnad_at_ecs.soton.ac.uk>
Date: Thu, 25 Dec 2003 20:13:15 +0000

This is the draft of a statement for universities and research
institutions worldwide to sign to commit themselves to implementing
the Berlin Declaration by providing open access to their peer-reviewed
research output. Note that it is not meant to be merely a declaration of
solidarity and support for the principle of open access, but an
institutional commitment to open-access provision.

Comments are welcome. The draft can be revised to incorporate recommended
corrections, clarifications or other improvements.


Declaration of institutional commitment to implementing the
Berlin Declaration on open-access provision
and the WSIS Declaration of Principles and Plan of Action

(1) Our researchers are paid (and their research projects are funded,
often with tax-payers' money) to conduct research and to publish their
findings ("publish or perish") so that other reseachers, at other
universities and institutions worldwide, can access, use, build-upon,
cite and apply those findings. This is called "research impact". The
productivity and progress of research depend on its impact.

(2) Research is published in peer-reviewed journals (24,000 worldwide,
across all disciplines and languages, publishing about 2,500,000
articles per year).

(3) Unlike book-authors or journalists, research article-authors do not
seek royalties or fees for these writings: They write them only for the
sake of research impact. (This is why they and their institutions were
always willing, in the paper era, to undertake the effort and expense
of mailing out hard-copies of their articles to any would-be users
who requested a reprint, and sometimes even to pay page-charges to the
journal for publishing the article. Greater research impact means both
(i) career advancement, higher salary, more research income, prizes and
prestige for the researchers and their institutions and, more important,
(ii) greater research productivity and progress, hence greater benefits
to the tax-payers who fund the research.)

(4) In the paper era, the only way for journals to cover the costs
of peer-review and publication was to charge subscription tolls for
access: Universities and research institutions paid the tolls so their
own researchers could access and use the peer-reviewed research output
of other universities and research institutions.

(5) No institution could ever afford toll-access to anywhere near all
24,000 journals; and most could only afford a small fraction of them --
a fraction that keeps shrinking with rising journal prices, even in
the Web era.

(6) As a result, it was true in the paper era -- and is still true
today, in the Web era -- that for each one of the 2,500,000 articles
published yearly, most of its would-be users cannot access it. That
means much of its potential research impact is being lost.

(7) In the paper era, this impact loss was unavoidable, but in the Web
era it is no longer necessary. There are two complementary ways in which
all access-denial -- and hence all impact-denial -- can now be eradicated:

(8) New "open-access" journals can recover their costs by charging the
author-institution for each outgoing article they publish, instead of
charging the user-institution for each journal or article they access.
(But fewer than 1000 open-access journals exist so far, publishing only
about 5% out of the 2,500,000 articles that are published every year.)

(9) For the remaining 95%, the articles published yearly in the 23,400
toll-access journals, the immediate solution to put an end to access
denial and impact loss is for their authors to self-archive their
full-texts online on their own institutional open-access websites for
all would-be users worldwide.

(10) As soon as universities, research institutions and research funders
extend their existing "publish or perish" policies from just publishing
their research output to also providing open access to it -- via (8), by
publishing it in an open-access journal whenever a suitable one exists,
and otherwise via (9), by self-archiving all their toll-access journal
publications -- the open-access era will be upon us, and research progress
and productivity will at last be maximised, instead of needlessly minimised,
as it is now.

Our institution commits its support to open
access provision by signing the Berlin Declaration
http://www.zim.mpg.de/openaccess-berlin/signatories.html and implementing
an institutional open-access provision policy such as:
Received on Thu Dec 25 2003 - 20:13:15 GMT

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