Re: Author Publication Charge Debate

From: Albert Henderson <>
Date: Tue, 10 Feb 2004 02:27:48 +0000

on 2/6/2004 Jean-Claude Guédon wrote:

> 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.

We have over 30 years of statistics that demonstrate the trend has been
in the other direction:

(a) higher education institutions have systematically reduced spending
on libraries;

(b) the savings have gone to the bottom line - profitability - rather
than research or education;

(c) agencies that sponsor research have not approached reforming the
"library" component of indirect cost application. They never have,
even though the US Science Policy Act of 1976 directs top agencies to
take an active interest in science communications. They are clearly more
interested in the employment of scientists than in their productivity.

Moreover, authors are generally ignoring the OA movement. Many others
cannot afford to subsidize publication -- OA or otherwise.

It appears to me that the OA movement is one more scheme gone

There is an alternative solution.

Productivity should be the goal of the science community - authors,
sponsors, readers, publishers, librarians, and the institutions that
profit from grants. The OA movement has missed the mark by seeking
financial efficiencies rather than effective science.

The OA discussions fail because them include research claims but
not the totality of science publishing. If we learned anything from
Sputnik, it was that infrastructure -- including digests, reviews,
libraries and library research and computerized index/abstract
services -- deal with the chaos of research claims better than the
every-researcher-for-himself/herself approach envisioned by OA. There
is simply too much for any researcher to read, to digest and to evaluate.

Readers that lack institutional connections can hardly begin to prepare
credible research in most fields.

Researchers need tools to prepare research. If 'tolls' provide tools and
infrastructure directed at productivity, then 'tolls' should be embraced,
as they were for hundreds of years.

The alternative OA approach is this: If higher education institutions
were to realign library spending to match the growth of R&D, I believe
publishers of research would be comfortable in permitting broad free
access. A solid case should be made for governmental support of the
indirect cost of libraries as a policy of science spending, since library
research is essential for the preparation of science.

It is a reasonable task. In the US, a mere four percent of all academic
libraries control 40% of spending. These are the libraries that dominate
the customer lists of academic research journals.
They number about 140 institutions.

OA activists, including the major disciplinary associations, could be more
effective by persuading a few hundred universities and a dozen agencies
to support productivity in science than by trying to convince millions
of authors to reject the social bonds that determine where they submit
their papers.

Best wishes,

Albert Henderson
Pres., Chess Combination Inc.
POB 2423 Bridgeport CT 06608-0423

Received on Tue Feb 10 2004 - 02:27:48 GMT

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