Re: The Green and Gold Roads to Open Access

From: Iva Melinscak Zlodi <>
Date: Thu, 7 Oct 2004 22:37:32 +0100

This discussion is going to turn to discussion about true task of an
academic librarian! For Steven Harnad it is acquisition, and to Brian
Simboli it is acquisition + preservation. Both views are somewhat limited,
I believe. Librarians should be responsible for "provision" (in very
broad meaning) of academic content + presentation and preservation of
that content + education of users +...

And if that is the case, then care about self-archiving and self-archived
material is also our task. And preservation of self-archived
content, where there is some, is a natural concern of librarians. (I
agree that this concern should come second, after some content is
self-archived). There are two reasons for that: institutional repositories
often include content that is not peer-reviewed journal literature, and
is not going to be archived and preserved elsewhere (and institutions and
their libraries still think that content is worth saving). Other reason is
that, for some time now, preservation of journal content is mostly out of
scope of libraries. For most of journals, we have only licensed right of
access, not permanent holdings. So, the self-archived copy of some paper
might actually be the only one that library has. Again, I don't think
that any of these concerns should distract anyone from self-archiving.

Another thing that worries Brian Simboli is that green publishers are
going to prohibit self-archiving again, and that building institutional
archives is therefore a risky business, and not worth spending librarians
valuable time. This concern sounds rather groundless to me, and experience
with publishers in physics shows opposite effect: once that authors are
used to self-archive, no publisher will dare to take that privilege away.

One more thing. It was a pleasure to read David Goodman's posting about
librarian's attitude toward OA. Stevan Harnad's repeated statements
that librarians are 'guilty' of over-emphasising gold road to OA, to
the expense of self-archiving, are based on two (I firmly believe) wrong
assumptions: 1. that librarians support gold OA primarily, and 2. that
librarians are naive enough to think that gold OA could spread to 100%
and solve all their problems in very short terms. (But, David Goodman's
estimation is over-optimistic: it assumes that 100% of librarians are
aware and well-informed about OA, and that is certainly not the case.)

Rest of this post is a quote from the post Tibor Toth and I have sent
to gpgnet forum on OA, and it is relevant for this discussion.

    "...Even for scientists, it is much easier to raise their interest
    about affordability and pricing issues (and it is so fun to hate
    Elsevier!) then to make them think about lost impact of their work and
    about their part of responsibility for that. Of course, one of the
    reasons for this is that, until recently, there were no scientific
    evidence of lost impact, and no exact figures to show (the highly
    cited Lawrence paper was about online access, not open access,
    and was applied only to one narrow field), while on the other hand
    we always had very nice figures as evidences for affordability crisis....

    "When it comes to OA journals, we believe that the 'author-pay' model
    (although a very innovative and welcome new financial model) has been
    over emphasised, not just at the expense of self-archiving, but also
    at the expense of a 'subsidised model' of OA journals. (The reason for
    that is not clear to us. It has been suggested that librarians
    [oversold] the 'gold' road, but scientists and journalists certainly share
    that guilt. It is hard to believe that any realistic librarian ever
    thought that the 'gold' road could solve their problems overnight.)"

Some final thoughts on the role of information specialists and librarians.
One issue has rarely been stressed, and we believe that for our profession
it is actually the main challenge with regard to OA. It is the issue
of discovery and retrieval of OA information. Today, there is already
a wealth of OA papers inside OAI archives, but also on individual or
departmental web sites, or elsewhere. For the OAI papers, it should be easy --
we only have to use some OAI service provider. But how many scientists are
using OAIster, for instance? And how many librarians are telling them to?

And for the OA papers scattered across the web, we should probably use
Google to find them. But Google isn't a perfect tool for searching
scientific information. Information seeking habits of scientists are a
complex topic, and OA information seeking is a rather unknown area (except
for physicists, of course). Some researchers rely heavily on secondary
services (both in information searching and in evaluation of research
results), and those are usually not taking into account OA resources.

Information specialists have a lot to do, both in educating users,
and in inventing and building new and innovative pathways to information,
and value-added services. So, instead of spending time and energy in
speculations about future and predicting the crash of the publishing
system and the peer review, it could be more useful to speculate
about possible new services that could be developed on top of the
openly accessible scientific information.'' (Lawrence's results were
misinterpreted here, and this was my fault)

Iva Melinscak Zlodi
Received on Thu Oct 07 2004 - 22:37:32 BST

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