Re: UK Select Committee Inquiry into Scientific Publication

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Fri, 2 Apr 2004 18:00:27 +0100

   This is cross-posted from Peter Suber's Open Access News

More on the UK inquiry

Richard Poynder, The Inevitable and the Optimal,
Information Today, April 1, 2004.

Poynder's detailed observations of the oral testimony. Excerpt:

    "Certainly, many of the 80-plus people attending on the first day had
    come to see publishers called to account for their part in the ongoing
    journal price-inflation crisis. They wanted to see the school bullies
    given a bloody nose....Uppermost in the politicians' minds, however,
    was the knowledge that there's now an alternative to traditional
    publishing: open access. They were clearly attracted to a model that
    promised to replace ever more expensive journal subscriptions with
    one that freely distributed research papers over the Internet. While
    claiming to be neutral, publishers were evidently bent on discrediting
    open access....But the most surprising comment came when publishers
    were asked how they intended to enfranchise those currently unable
    to access scientific research either because they are not personal
    subscribers, not members of a subscribing institution, or have
    exceeded concurrent user limits. Jarvis startled the audience by
    replying that it was dangerous to make medical information widely
    available to the public....Apparently agreeing, Charkin nodded
    vigorously and said, 'The unprocessed data of scientific research
    papers is very tough for a layperson.' It seemed both publishers
    felt that denying people access to information for their own good
    was a tenable proposition. Unfortunately, their remarks served to
    starkly contrast the autocratic tendencies of publishers with the
    democratic aspirations of the open access movement, casting the
    latter in a more desirable light."


Here is another excerpt from Richard's article (not in Peter's posting):

    "Self-archiving, however, is the fastest growing form of open access
    as scientists, determined to liberate their research from publishers'
    financial firewalls, archive more and more of their papers on the Web"

And the article's title derives from:

    Harnad, Stevan (1997) How to Fast-Forward Serials to the
    Inevitable and the Optimal for Scholars and Scientists.
    Serials Librarian 30: 73-81.
    Reprinted in C. Christiansen & C. Leatham, Eds. Pioneering
    New Serials Frontiers: From Petroglyphs to CyberSerials. NY:
    Haworth Press.
    In French translation as: "Comment Accelerer l'Ineluctable Evolution
    des Revues Erudites vers la Solution Optimale pour les Chercheurs
    et la Recherche"
Received on Fri Apr 02 2004 - 18:00:27 BST

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