Re: Author Publication Charge Debate

From: Albert Henderson <chessNIC_at_COMPUSERVE.COM>
Date: Thu, 22 Jan 2004 12:20:25 -0500

on Sat, 10 Jan 2004 Michael Eisen <> wrote:

> It's a fundamental misconception to frame the issue this way. Framing this
> as a "reader pays v author pays" question makes it sound like their is some
> fundamental conflict between the interests of readers and authors who, I
> probably need not point out to this audience, are mostly the same people.
> The question is not who should pay - readers don't pay now and authors
> wouldn't pay under the open access model - in either case, the overwhelming
> majority of the money that supports scientific publishing comes from the
> governments, independent funding agencies, universities and other research
> organization that support research.

        You cannot include universities as organizations
        that provide money to support research. While they
        do pay something sometimes, the growth and vitaility
        of academic R&D comes from sponsored grants.

        There is a clear conflict, pointed out by British
        economist David Brown, between universities --
        as agencies that fund libraries -- and agencies
        that fund research. [David J. Brown, Electronic
        Publishing and Libraries. Planning for the Impact
        and Growth to 2003. London: Bowker-Saur. 1996]
        Library spending has grown far behind R&D since 1970.

        Page charges (author pays) are direct costs of
        grants. Library costs (reader pays) are indirect
        costs of grants. In practice indirect library costs
        of research grants are administrative factors having
        nothing to do with research or researchers.

> The question is how should they (the institutions that fund science) pay?
> What system best advances their interests as sponsors of scientific
> research. Should they continue using a system (the "reader pays" model) that
> is economically inefficient, unnecessarily expensive and needlessly restrict
> who can access to the papers that describe the results of the research they
> have funded, or should they use a system that will almost certainly be
> cheaper, will ensure that everyone in the world has immediate free access to
> their scholarly output and will encourage (rather than inhibit) creative new
> uses of the scientific literature.

        It would seem that the cost of science libraries
        should be budgeted as part of R&D spending. It is
        not, even though page charges and libraries are
        acknowledged by US Federal research grants. No
        one can tell us why budget policies are blind to
        the obvious.

        What the reader-pays system does, in contrast to
        author-pays open access, is (A) to compile, present,
        and deliver news, recognition, and opinion
        customized to its readers' interests and (B) to
        encourage innovation on the part of publishers,
        particularly publishers of reviews and information
        services whose participation brings some order to
        the chaos of research claims. We would not have
        translation journals, electronic databases, review
        journals, or full-text aggregators without libraries'
        economic support. It also supports libraries
        collections and librarians whose activities I
        consider essential to the training and development
        of able researchers.

        The author-pays open access ideal, which delivers
        nothing, has been fostered by too many non-
        researchers whose stated goal is the elimination of
        publishers and library costs.

        Best wishes,

Albert Henderson
Pres., Chess Combination Inc.
POB 2423 Bridgeport CT 06608-0423
Received on Thu Jan 22 2004 - 17:20:25 GMT

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