Re: Author Publication Charge Debate

From: Leslie Chan <chan_at_UTSC.UTORONTO.CA>
Date: Fri, 6 Feb 2004 15:07:52 -0500

Dear Jean-Claude,

I do not disagree with the trend you are describing but I think it is a
trend specific to the rich countries such as the UK, Germany and the US. And
so the author pay or input pay model of OA may lead to the possibility of
furthering the gap for contributions from authors from poorer regions, where
research infrastructure and funding are lacking, and where the "lonely
author" you describe is far from rare. This, I think is the point made by
Suhail Rahman.
As I know you are a long time champion of open source, open knowledge and
open access to science for all, and indeed you were among the first to raise
alarm about leaving developing countries further behind, I wonder if you
would help us think specifically about the impact of the input pay model for
developing countries. You also mentioned that "a variety of mechanisms and
institutions are moving to provide funds for the support of these new
publishing models". To what extend are these models taking the need of the
developing countries into account?

Fee wavier by OA journals for authors who can't afford to pay is a very
short term solution and it doesn't address the root problem of why authors
can't afford to pay in the first place. Our view is that if we wish to have
a truly inclusive knowledge commons, we need to enable institutions to build
research infrastructure and promote local publications. There are many
quality publications from various developing countries and strengthening
local scientific publications and finding means to convert these journals
into open access journals is one of the best means to encourage local
scientific development as well as increasing international visibility and
subsequent research impact.

Most journals published in developing countries are heavily subsidized by
private foundations, aid agencies, and international bodies but most of
these agencies do not understand the power and benefits of open access. So
they insist on journals being self-sufficient through subscription. This has
led to repeated failures and short-lived journals. Instead, we would like
to reshape thinking about the support for scientific publishing from a
³subsidize until commercially viable² concept to one in which the support is
seen as an ongoing contribution to the sustainability of science and
society. In other words, rather than sustaining print journals that will
most likely never have an audience outside their home country or regions, we
recommend using the same money to bring the journal to a global audience
through open access, thereby enlarging the readership base and potential
contributors. This could be easily accomplish these days using the free
eprints software or other open source software as described in the Open
Society guide, or working collaboratively with other organizations who could
assist with technical online publishing know-how.

Finally, and somewhat unrelated to the above, if libraries are saving money
with OA journals, would they not better serve their institutions by
investing the savings into supporting institutional repositories rather than
sinking them into more "institutional access deals"?

Best wishes
Leslie Chan

on 2/6/04 1:07 PM, Jean-Claude Guédon at jean.claude.guedon_at_UMONTREAL.CA

> I believe Stevan has said most of what is needed to answer your message.
> For my part, I will focus on OA journals and would like to underscore the fact
> that this particular way to move to open access will require some
> concertation among a variety of ploayers. It is not simply a matter of an
> author dealing with the business plan of an OA journal; libraries are saing
> money with OA journals and could perhaps be persuaded to put back some of
> those savings in the publishing circuit by contributing to institutional
> access deals with such publications. Alternatively, universities as a whole
> or research centres could explore doing the same. Finally, agencies that
> allocate research grants can certainly build policies favouring the support
> of publishing costs, especially in the case of OA journals. This is a trend
> which seems to be growing at this point in history: the Hughes Foundation,
> the Wellcome Trust and the Max Planck Gesellschaft, among others, have moved
> ahead on this front.

> In short, the situation where a lonely author is left with no alternative but
> to shell out several hundred dollars or even 1500 dollars in the case of PLoS
> is not supposed to be the typical or even minority case. Most people I talk
> to envision this case as a rare one that ultimtely ought to disappear. And,
> indeed, a variety of mechanisms and institutions are moving to provide funds
> for the support of these new publishing models. One can expect to see this
> movement accelerate everywhere in the next couple of years
> Best wishes,
> Jean-Claude Guédon
> Le 6 Février 2004 10:05, Suhail A. Rahman a écrit :
>> On Thu, 22 Jan 2004 12:20:25 -0500, Albert Henderson wrote:
>>> 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.
>> The principles propounded for author charged open access sounded quite
>> promising initially and I was the first author to send a manuscript to, and
>> which was published (free) in, BMC Nuclear Medicine. However my support
>> for author charged open access has waned since then and now I strongly
>> believe that author charged open access should be discontinued. The reason
>> is quite simple. As authors, even from so called affluent countries, (I am
>> in Kuwait) research costs billed to authors cannot be borne as in many
>> countries, unlike in the West, there is no organized system of
>> institutional support for rersearch. Open Access will then be limited to
>> either the "rich" researchers, or those backed by an institutional system.
>> For the majority of clinicians, who do high quality research on their own,
>> the added publication costs of open access will be a major stumbling block
>> to research output.
>> I would suggest a system like that of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology
>> & Metabolism as the way to go. All research after 1 year of publication
>> becomes open access. That within 1 year is not open access. There are no
>> author fees. This should be the face of open access, a way out for both
>> authors and researchers. Myself and my colleagues have decided never to
>> send a manuscript to author charged open access again (unless of course in
>> the rare instance of someone turning up to pay for it).
>> I look forward to the responses generated by this message
Received on Fri Feb 06 2004 - 20:07:52 GMT

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