Re: OA journals are available for more than half of all papers

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Sun, 11 Jul 2004 00:05:48 +0100

on Sat, 10 Jul 2004, Jan Velterop wrote:

Stevan Harnad wrote:

>sh> open access to [all peer-reviewed journal articles]
>sh> should be provided, for all potential users, through either of the two
>sh> available means: (1) publishing them in open-access journals (whenever
>sh> suitable ones exists) (5%) and (2) publishing the rest (95%) in
>sh> toll-access journals whilst also self-archiving them publicly on their
>sh> own university's website."
> I agree with what [Stevan] wrote, except where he implies that suitable
> Open Access journals only exist for 5% of papers. He probably means that
> currently, only 5% *is being published* in OA journals.

That is correct: about 5% of the c. 2,5000,000 articles published
annually in the c. 24,000 peer-reviewed journals that exist today are
published in the c. 1000 of them that are OA journals. 95% is published
in the non-OA journals.

> Suitable OA journals exist to cover virtually the entire spectrum of
> the life and medical sciences, at multiple levels.

"Suitable" does not only pertain to the subject-matter covered but (1)
the track-record of the journal, (2) its peer-review quality standards,
(3) its editorial board, its (4) refereeship, to a certain extent even its
(5) readership -- for although it is true that the entire web becomes the
potential readership of an OA journal, an established name and reputation
for quality certainly contribute to a journal's actual *actual*
readership. It *does* make a difference to a busy researcher, trying to
sift out the best quality work to which to devote his limited reading
time, whether it appears in the New England Journal of Medicine, with
its distinguished track record and high impact factor, or a newly created
journal whose only claim to fame is that it is OA.

This is particularly true given the fact that it is possible to make all
articles in non-OA journals OA by self-archiving them.

> The life and medical sciences represent more than half of the published
> scientific research. So it follows that OA journals are available and can
> deal with more than half of all that's published in the sciences. It's
> not the *number* of journals that exist that counts, but how much of
> the whole spectrum is covered by OA journals. Why should an Open Access
> world need to have as many journals as the old subscription world? No
> problem if it does, but there's no need.

In principle, one single "journal" could cover all of the life-sciences,
if it had sections for all the specialities, and could corner the market
not only on authors but on referees (and if competing journals serve no
useful purpose). But the fact is that the existing 23,000 non-OA
journals have their established records, refereeships and authorships,
and it is not at all clear that all, most, or even many of these are
willing to abandon their established non-OA journals and defect to new
OA journals just for the sake of OA.

It is not even clear that they should *want* to do so, just for the sake
of OA, because 100% OA can be had by simply self-archiving the articles
the authors publish in the 95% of journals that are non-OA.

Stevan Harnad

If you have adopted or plan to adopt an institutional policy of providing
Open Access to your own research article output, please describe your
policy at:

    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.

A complete Hypermail archive of the ongoing discussion of providing
open access to the peer-reviewed research literature online (1998-2004)
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Received on Sun Jul 11 2004 - 00:05:48 BST

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