Re: Op Ed piece to use to promote Open Access

From: Subbiah Arunachalam <subbiah_a_at_YAHOO.COM>
Date: Tue, 6 Jan 2004 02:55:27 +0000


Not all 1000 or so open access journals charge the
authors' institution a publication fee as do BioMed
Central and PLoS. I don't think BMJ charges any fee.
Nor does Current Science. Of course, Current Science
gets part of its revenue from subscription to the
print version and the rest from grants received by the
Current Science Association and the Indian Academy of

At the end of your communication, you may kindly add
the appropriate URL for Bioline, which particularly
serves journals from developing countries.



--- Stevan Harnad <> wrote: > I
have not transferred copyright for this piece
> (which just appeared in
> the Montreal Gazette).
> So I hereby invite anyone who wishes to republish it
> in order to help
> promote open access to do so. It is written in a
> popular style, so if
> you can place it in any newspapers or magazines,
> please do go ahead!
> (I don't care if it appears under my name or
> generically.)
> (The full-text below diverges slightly from the
> published Gazette version,
> e.g., in the title. -- SH)
> Let All Knowledge Be Free That Wants to be Free
> Stevan Harnad
> Some well-meaning cowboys have noticed a similarity
> between the
> World-Wide-Web and the Wild-Wild-West, with its
> limitless space, free
> for the taking. They've concluded that the Web Age
> means we can at last
> have free access to all knowledge.
> I wish they had been right, but unfortunately
> knowledge is produced by
> people, and not all people want to give away their
> work for free!
> The authors of most books, for example, are quite
> aware that the Web is a
> medium in which texts can be made accessible to
> anyone who clicks on them,
> but they'd rather their readers paid for access.
> Same is true for singers
> and song-writers, and for most writers of computer
> software. Human nature
> being what it is -- and the demands of daily
> survival being what they
> are -- most people would prefer to be paid for their
> work, regardless
> of whether their product is physical goods and
> services or abstract
> knowledge. If I cannot be paid for it, why bother to
> do the work at all?
> But there is one prominent exception. University
> reseachers are paid to *do*
> research, but they publish it (in research journals)
> for free. Unlike all
> other authors, they don't ask for any fee or royalty
> for these writings.
> Why?
> Because in publishing them they are not looking for
> sales revenue but
> for "research impact." How many users read, apply,
> use, build-upon and cite
> my research? Those are the numbers on which the
> researcher's career and
> research-funding depend.
> So what's the problem then? This knowledge was
> give-away knowledge
> already in the paper era. Now that we have the Web,
> we can give
> it all away big-time!
> Not so fast!
> I said the researchers give it away, but that
> doesn't mean its users don't
> have to pay! For the only way to get access --
> either on paper or online
> -- to the contents of the 24,000 research journals
> in which 2.5 million
> research articles appear yearly every year is for
> the would-be user's
> university to pay for access. And the fact is that
> the access-tolls
> are so high that universities can afford access only
> to a small and
> shrinking fraction of them. That means that the
> world's research output
> is inaccessible to most of its would-be users,
> despite the fact that it
> is and always has been an author give-away!
> This represents a great loss to research,
> researchers, their institutions,
> their research funders, and the tax-payers who are
> paying for it all. It
> has been estimated that articles that are accessible
> toll-free on the
> Web have 336% more research impact than those that
> are only available
> via toll-access. (336% may not seem like a large
> increase, but
> considering that most research is not cited at all,
> this figure is
> actually astronomical.)
> Why are there still access-blocking tolls, then? So
> that journals can
> continuing making ends meet. Why do we still need
> journals at all, if
> access can be provided for free on the Web? Because
> journals provide "peer
> review," which ensures that the research is reliable
> and correct.
> The peers who review and certify the articles are
> qualified experts in
> the article's field, but they too, like the authors,
> seek no payment for
> their work! So the only cost involved is
> *implementing* the peer review:
> A qualified editor has to pick the reviewers, the
> journal has to track
> the reviewing process, and then the editor has to
> make sure the author
> does any recommended revisions. We know what
> implementing all of that
> costs: about $500 per paper.
> But what is the planet -- or rather, those few
> universities on the
> planet that can afford access to any given journal
> -- actually paying in
> access tolls for the very limited access it gets in
> return? About $1500
> per article on average.
> Why so much more than $500? Because those costs
> include the production
> and distribution of the paper version, as well as
> some values added to
> the online version (mark-up, PDF paper images,
> etc.).
> Because of this arithmetic, a number of new journals
> have been created
> in recent years that do not try to recover their
> costs by charging
> access-blocking tolls to the reader-institution, but
> through a per-article
> publication charge to the author-institution.
> About 1000 such "open-access" journals exist today.
> That's enough to
> provide open access to less than 5% of the planet's
> yearly research
> output. What about the other 95%?
> The solution is simple, and it is very much in the
> spirit of the
> Wild-Web! All articles for which there is not yet a
> suitable open-access
> journal should be published, as before, in a
> suitable toll-access journal,
> but, in addition, they should be "self-archived" by
> their authors on
> their own university websites.
> That way, all those would-be users whose
> universities cannot afford to
> access the deluxe version from the publisher can
> access the author's
> give-away vanilla version (and thus no research
> impact is lost)
> Journals are not yet ready to risk making the
> transition to
> open-access publishing, but 55% of them already
> officially support
> author self-archiving. And many of the rest will
> agree if asked,
> because no publisher wants to be seen as blocking
> the research impact
> of the knowledge that their authors are freely
> giving them and their
> peer-reviewers are freely reviewing for them.
> It is now up to research institutions and funders to
> extend their "Publish
> or Perish" policies to "Provide Open Access to Your
> Publications" so as
> to maximize the benefits of this give-away knowledge
> to the tax-paying
> society that funded it.
> For details about the worldwide open access
> movement, see:
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Received on Tue Jan 06 2004 - 02:55:27 GMT

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