Re: Open Access Journal Start-Ups: A Cost-Cutting Proposal

From: David Goodman <>
Date: Sun, 6 Jun 2004 03:30:21 +0100

Stevan Harnad wrote:

> One excellent way to lower start-up costs and to promote OA at the same
> time would be not to have a journal archive at all! Make it a policy
> that once peer-review is performed and the final draft is accepted
> by your journal, it is the author who must self-archive it in his own
> institutional OAI-compliant archive. The journal merely provides the
> tag certifying that the article as been refereed, has met the standards,
> and been accepted for publication.

This excellent advice needs to be tempered with a major caution:
institutional web sites, even OAI-compliant ones, are not necessarily
secure repositories. They could be, if the institution were to make a
commitment to maintaining the site, to guaranteeing its accessibility,
usability, OAI-compliance, and permanence in a way that is manifest to
the authors and the potential users. Many institutions have some sort of
a repository, but what is to prevent the administrators from removing
the papers of those who have left the institution? What is to prevent
their discontinuation?

This is not a real problem with materials that are also published in a
conventional or open access journal, because it is the journal which is
the permanent secure record. And Steven normally discusses self-archiving
as merely the supplement to journal publication.

But here he is discussing a journal using such an archive as the
only means of publication; as soon as one does this, a much higher
standard of reliability becomes necessary. Fortunately, this need not
inhibit the prospective editors, because suitable permanent archives
do exist, surrounded by the necessary guarantees: arXiv, cogprints,
etc. etc,. And such a site can be run by many types of organization,
ranging from a university to a national library. In the list to be found
there are many; some of them are archives with such security and
reliability, but are they all? The criterion for listing is OAI-compliance
which, alone, is not enough for this purpose, though it certainly is as
a supplement.

An individual author posting a preprint or postprint to an archive
should be safe enough in his own institution (though this might vary
by institution.). Stevan does not like to discuss what he considers
speculations about the future -- but as soon as one considers such archives
as the sole means of publication one does need to deal with all the
issues concerning not just access today, but access into the future.

I do not think this should discourage the prospective editors; indeed, I
personally think virtual journals of the sort suggested are not merely the
best way to start new journals, but may become the best way to continue
existing ones. But if one trusts one's reputation and career to such a
journal, the requirements become as high as for present-day journals,
with all the details that entails.

And on the other hand, remember, only an archive at one's own institution
is permitted for postprints of articles in many "green" journals. This
certainly does not mean we need two types of archives. Rather,
the solution is to both improve and guarantee the quality of own's
own institutional archive, and further change the attitudes of the
still-restrictive "green" journals. Both are best done by persistence,
and by the building of significant demand.

Dr. David Goodman
Associate Professor
Palmer Library School, LIU
and, formerly,
Princeton University Library
Received on Sun Jun 06 2004 - 03:30:21 BST

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