Who Needs Open Access, and Why?

From: Stevan Harnad <harnad_at_ecs.soton.ac.uk>
Date: Mon, 8 Mar 2004 10:16:08 +0000 (GMT)

Sally Morris <chief-exec_at_alpsp.org> wrote:

> Curiously, there seems to be remarkably little evidence of author demand
> for Open Access publication according to all the studies I have seen.

Well, there's "remarkably little evidence" only if one ignores the
fact that authors have been and are providing open access to their
articles in growing numbers by either publishing them in OA journals
or self-archiving them:


And to ignore also the evidence from author petitions (such as the 30,000
PLoS open letter)


And most important of all, it is to ignore the evidence on research
impact-loss owing to access-denial. This is the most important evidence
of all, and as it grows, and as scientist/scholar awareness of it grows,
the outcome is inevitable:


> There's a straw poll running on the ALPSP discussion list at the moment,
> and so far no society publisher has reported demand from a single society
> member.

Authors have not yet made the connection between the access/impact facts and their
Learned Societies, but as the facts are made known, they will. Does Sally really
believe that if the trade-off were really put to members in a transparent way --
"Are you willing to continue subsidising your Learned Society's good works with
your own lost research impact, or should your Society find other ways to fund its
meetings, scholarships and lobbying?" -- that any researcher would reply anything
other than the obvious and inevitable?


> In the end, it is author behaviour which will drive change

Indeed it is. And what will help drive author behaviour in providing open
access to their publications will be the very same factor that helps drive
author behaviour in providing access to their publications by publishing
them at all, namely, their own institutions' and researchers'
publish-or-perish policies, now extended quite naturally in the online
age to: "publish with maximized access/impact"


> We have to be careful not to confuse revenue per article (which is what
> these figures from Blackwell and Nature represent) and cost per article.

Indeed we do. For who knows what the essential costs will prove to be,
once all distribution, access-provision, and archiving has been offloaded
onto the distributed interoperable network of institutional OA Eprint
Archives, each providing OA to its own article output? After all this
cost-cutting and downsizing, the only remaining essential learned-journal
cost (and function) may well prove to be the implementation of peer

    Distinguishing the Essentials from the Optional Add-Ons

Stevan Harnad

NOTE: A complete archive of the ongoing discussion of providing open
access to the peer-reviewed research literature online (1998-2004)
is available at the American Scientist Open Access Forum:
        To join the Forum:
        Post discussion to:
        Hypermail Archive:

Unified Dual Open-Access-Provision Policy:
    BOAI-2 ("gold"): Publish your article in a suitable open-access
            journal whenever one exists.
    BOAI-1 ("green"): Otherwise, publish your article in a suitable
            toll-access journal and also self-archive it.
Received on Mon Mar 08 2004 - 10:16:08 GMT

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.0 : Fri Dec 10 2010 - 19:47:22 GMT