RE: Mandating OA around the corner?

From: David Goodman <>
Date: Tue, 13 Jul 2004 06:04:15 EDT

Stevan, I do not think it possible to "disentangle the serials budget
problem from the access/impact problem."

The number of subscriptions to many ISI-level scientific serials is at a
critically low point The funding at many independent scholarly societies
is at a critically low point. Both paths to OA depend to a considerable
extent on the continued existence of the journals. The "green"
repositories path relies on them for arranging peer review, copy editing,
and permanent archiving. The gold "OA journals" path relies on having
journals there to change to OA. Any viable plan for OA must at the very
least not undercut the existing journals, or must propose an alternative.

There are alternatives. For OA journals, it is possible to create new
journals to replace those that can not or will not convert. This will
obviously be slower than converting existing titles--and neither of them
will be very rapid. For repositories, it would be possible to convert
them into permanent structures, capable of supporting the functions now
done by journals. It would be possible, but again, very difficult. I
accept that your arguments for not doing this immediately are probably

For individual archives in a supplemental role, there must be something to
supplement. Some journals are strong enough to survive alongside the
archives, like the APS, Many are not. It will be a very difficult argument
to continue subscribing to extremely expensive or little-used titles, once
a large part of the contents is OA. How expensive or little-used a title
must be, or how large a part must be OA, is open only to conjecture on our
part and funding decisions on others'. As a minimum, one can safely say
that just as some journals will easily survive, some will not, and it is
disingenuous to suggest otherwise. There may be some scientists who care
only about the exposure of their work the year after publication. Most
citations studies show much longer half-lives, and most scholars hope to
have a permanent influence.

Fortunately, many others are interested in sustainability, will discuss
it, and will plan for it. Librarians in particular are quite accustomed to
being left to deal with the practical details of maintaining and
preserving the scholarly communications system.

Dr. David Goodman

This has been written for liblicense-l; other lists should link, rather
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Received on Tue Jul 13 2004 - 11:04:15 BST

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