Re: What Provosts Need to Mandate

From: Deborah Freund <>
Date: Sun, 14 Mar 2004 22:22:37 +0000

True, but if your department and dean recommend tenure based on
published work not in open access journals, then [what you are] saying
is that I should deny tenure completely. Its not either/or in terms of
publications. And what about if the field is a book field? Then do you
want web based publications only?

Deborah A. Freund
Vice Chancellor and Provost
Professor of Public Administration
Office of Academic Affairs
304 Tolley Administration Building
Syracuse University
Syracuse, NY 13244-1100
Phone: 315-443-2494
Fax: 315-443-1839

>>> 03/14/04 16:56 PM >>>
On Sun, 14 Mar 2004, Deborah Freund (Provost, Syracuse University) wrote:

> I am a provost and I fear that is unrealistic. Mandating something,
> at least in the American system, is a sure way not to get what you
> want. I would guess strong suggestions and incentives might be better.

Perhaps "mandate" is too controversial a word! I meant whatever the
verb is that already describes existing American "publish-or-perish"
policy. I suppose that's not exactly "mandating" publishing either,
in the sense of "publish or you're fired!"

Publish-or-perish policy is, as you put it, a matter of strong suggestions
and incentives: The carrot is that publishing will get you hired, promoted,
tenured, funded, honored, etc., and the stick is that if you don't do
research and publish, you will have to do other kinds of duties.

But even this is no longer the up-to-date description of publish-or-perish
policy either, for of course research *impact* has already entered
the equation too: It is not enough to simply publish. If what you publish
is not found to be useful by your peer research community, it is less valued
and rewarded than a publication that is found to be useful by your research
community. And citations are a strong measure of the degree to which
your contribution has been found to be useful by your research community.

So far there is nothing new in this. Here comes the new part: The
degree to which your articles can be used and cited by your research community
is *strongly* dependent on the degree to which they can be *accessed*. And
the fact today for every single one of the 2,500,000 articles that appear
annually in the planet's 24,000 peer-reviewed journals is that most --
not some, or many, but most -- of its potential users worldwide cannot
access (hence use or cite) it, because their institutions cannot afford
to pay the access-tolls for the journal in which it happens to appear.

(Nor is this is just a matter of the Harvards vs. the Have-Nots, because
no university can afford access to anywhere near all of the 24,000
journals, and most universities can only afford access to a smaller and
smaller minority of them. Hence although the few Harvards can indeed
afford more access to the research output of the many Have-Nots, they
still suffer the impact-loss for their own research output, because the
journals in which it appears are unaffordable to their would-be users
at the far more numerous Have-Not universities!)

This impact-loss is an invariant fact for all those articles *except*
the small percentage of them that have been made open-access by
their authors -- either by publishing them in an Open Access (OA) Journal
(5% of journals are OA) or by publishing them in a conventional Toll
Access (TA) journal (95%), but also self-archiving them (in a central
or institutional OA Eprint Archive), as shown by the data below:

Now one might respond:

        "But our existing publish-or-perish policies already implicitly
        have that covered! We *already* reward publication in proportion
        to impact, rather than merely a bean-count: Why does OA provision
        need a special policy of its own?"

The answer is very simple: The research community does not yet *realize*
how much OA enhances research usage and impact, nor do they yet realize
that it is possible to provide OA for all their articles, nor how
to go about doing it. The institutional policy that is needed is one
that informs researchers about the benefits of OA, provides them with
the means of providing OA (institutional OA Eprint Archives), and
encourages and helps them to use them (until OA provision becomes as
natural a part of academic culture as publication itself).

To this end, some examples of the kind of OA provision policy that universities
and research funders might (if not mandate then) strongly encourage with
incentives would be the following:

Stevan Harnad
Received on Sun Mar 14 2004 - 22:22:37 GMT

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