Chronicle article: Open Access to Journals Won't Lower Prices

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Tue, 28 Sep 2004 06:08:41 +0100

> ---------- Forwarded message ----------
> Date: Mon, 27 Sep 2004 11:54:36 -0400 (EDT)
> From:
> To:
> You may want to post this article on your listserv. Gene
> John Ewing, "Open Access to Journals Won't Lower Prices"
> Chronicle of Higher Education. October 1 2004.

Many thanks to Gene Garfield for drawing this article to my attention,
but one would have to go a long way to find such an ill-informed article!

Just 3 fairly simple propositions are enough to highlight the article's
sweeping (and familiar) errors:

(1) The journal pricing/affordability problem and the journal-article
access/impact problem are not the same problem.

(100% Open Access [OA] is -- and is meant to be -- the solution to the
access/impact problem, not the pricing/affordability problem. But with
100% OA, the pricing/affordability problem would immediatly become a
far less urgent and critical matter for the research community.)

(2) OA is not the same as OA journal publishing (and its cost-recovery
model); and OA journal publishing is not the way most OA is being
provided: authors self-archiving their own articles (published in non-OA
journals) is.

(3) But even if (3a) OA journal publishing *were* the only way to provide
OA, and even if (3b) 100% of journals converted to OA, and even if (3c)
this did not lead to any reduction in journal costs -- [premise 3a is
false and premises 3b and 3c are highly unlikely, but even if all three were
true] -- the 100% OA and maximized research impact that would result
from this redistribution of exactly the same costs would *still* be a
huge benefit for science and scholarship.

(But the fact is that far more OA is coming from self-archiving today,
and the likelihood is that OA self-archiving will soon be mandated,
which will then generate 100% OA. One could speculate about what eventual
long-term effects that 100% OA might or might not have on journal pricing
and cost-recovery models too, but at this point it is actual self-archiving
and OA that are needed, with certainty, not hypothetical future-conditionals.)

See also Peter Suber's excellent critique of the Ewing article:

"Another straw-man argument"

Stevan Harnad

UNIVERSITIES: 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.

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Received on Tue Sep 28 2004 - 06:08:41 BST

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