Re: UK Select Committee Inquiry into Scientific Publication

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Tue, 9 Mar 2004 12:08:22 +0000

Prior subject threads:

    "Written evidence for UK Select Committee's Inquiry into Scientific Publications

    "Re: UK Select Committee Inquiry into Scientific Publication"

The first phase of the hearings is now over. This phase has been on publishing,
and has heard evidence from publishers -- both Toll-Access (TA) and Open-Access

The Royal Society's contribution will, I believe, prove to be a bit of
a historic embarrassment for that venerable institution, the first of
the scientific journal publishers (along with the French Societe des
Savans). The RS's testimony is alas rather short-sighted and not very
well-informed, and repeats many of the familiar canards about OA:

But perhaps this is not altogether the RS's fault, because the UK Select
Committee's call was in fact formulated as an inquiry into scientific
publication, not into *access* to scientific publication. Hence it too
continues to propagate this planetary tidal wave (which will soon
dissipate) in which OA is being equated exclusively with OA *publishing,*
instead of with OA *provision* (via either the narrower, slower road of
OA publishing [5%] or the broader, faster road of OA self-archiving of
TA articles [20%, but with 100% within immediate reach]:

    "On the Need to Take Both Roads to Open Access"

    "The Green and Gold Roads to Open Access"

    "The Green Road to Open Access: A Leveraged Transition"

There will be a second phase of the UK inquiry, one more focussed on
the research community rather than the publishing community. Here, I
hope, the other road to OA will be given some of its due. I also choose
to believe that if the RS had been better informed or better directed
by the Select Committee's mandate so as to address OA provision and not
just OA publication (and its costs), the RS might have given a more
distinguished account of itself on this all-important historic topic for
research and researchers. Right now the RS's wisdom on the topic amounts
to just: "OA publishing would cost us all more, and would cut RS revenue."

Time for some deeper thought -- about OA itself.

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:
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        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 Tue Mar 09 2004 - 12:08:22 GMT

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