Re: Author Publication Charge Debate

From: Subbiah Arunachalam <>
Date: Sat, 14 Feb 2004 02:48:16 +0000


Mr Suhail wrote: "OA is like a bank loan, it gives you something, but
in the end the interest takes an awful lot away from you." Honestly I
do not understand this analogy with bank loans and interests. The very
purpose of OA is to make the overall costs lower and to enable those
who do not have access to large and well-equipped libraries to have
virtually the same level of access to the information as those who have.

I am not sure if Mr Suhail has read the key documents on OA. Let me
repeat PLoS and BMC do not constitute the entire OA movement. There are
many other elements. As a developing country scientist the options open
to me are:

1. Place my paper in an interoperable institutional (or national) archive.

2. Place my paper in a centralised archive such as arXiv or Cogprints. [Or
allow my papers to be picked up from the web by CiteSeer!]

3. Publish my paper in an open access journal like Current Science which
does not charge an author fee.

4. Publish my journal in a toll access journal like Nature, but also
make it available through my institutional archive.

Where does the bank loan and interest come in here? How do I as an
individual scientist or my institution or the world of science lose? I
think all of us gain through a huge reduction in transaction costs.

Talking to physicists who have been using arXiv for more than a decade
will clear any doubt one may have about the value of OA.

Addressing the graduates at MIT's 136th commencement on 7 June 2002,
MIT President Charles M Vest said: "And let us also resolve that our
new technologies — the Internet and the World Wide Web —will be used
as tools of empowerment and democratization on a global scale." That
is precisely we would like to happen through the OA movement. MIT for
its part made 500 of its courses freely accessible on the Web. Today
thousands of people around the world are taking advantage of these world
class courses. MIT also came up with DSpace to facilitate open archiving.

Philanthropy and voluntarism still have a place. But even if there is
no place for them, mere enlightened self interest of scientists and
scholars will lead us to open access!

Here is a quote from MIT President on the value of
open access to knowledge:

Disturbing the Educational Universe: Universities in a Digital
Age—Dinosaurs or Prometheans?

President Charles M. Vest's annual report for the academic year 2000-01,
which examines the impact of technology on higher education and assesses
the future role of the research-intensive residential university.

"The computer industry learned the hard way that closed software
systems—based on a framework of proprietary knowledge—did not fit the
world they themselves had created. The organic world of open software and
open systems was the true wave of the future. Higher education must learn
from this.We must create open knowledge systems as the new framework for
teaching and learning. "In this spirit, MIT has asked itself, in the words
of T. S. Eliot, 'Do I dare...Disturb the universe?' "Our answer is yes. We
call this project MIT OpenCourseWare (OCW). We see it as opening a new
door to the powerful, democratizing, and transforming power of education."


[Subbiah Arunachalam]
Received on Sat Feb 14 2004 - 02:48:16 GMT

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