Re: Who Needs Open Access, and Why?

From: jcg <>
Date: Sun, 24 Oct 2004 16:59:22 -0400

The correct URL for Heather's important reference to Rolf Neth is:

It contains further interesting links.


Jean-Claude Guédon

On Sun October 24 2004 04:18 pm, Heather Morrison wrote:
> greetings - a few thoughts on this thread:
> Is an opinion survey to find out whether researchers want open access
> truly needed at this time? In my opinion, not really - the open letter
> calling for an establishment of a public library of science, signed by
> 34,000 researchers worldwide,,
> followed by the very great many open access initiatives that have taken
> place in the very near past, are more than sufficient evidence. This is
> not to say there is no point in another survey - it's just to say that
> anyone who says that there is no evidence that researchers want open
> access is simply ignoring the facts.
> Congratulations to Martin Frank for having the courage to present his
> anti-OA views on this forum! Communications, IMHO, work better when the
> opposing sides actually talk to each other - I would encourage others with
> these viewpoints to share them. I'd also warmly encourage them to change
> sides and wholeheartedly embrace OA, too, but that's another matter :)
> Martin makes the point that faculty may not be fully informed about
> the potential impact of OA, which would limit the usefulness of an
> opinion survey at this point. I would agree, but from the opposite
> perspective. As Stevan Harnad points out, the enhanced impact of open
> access has been demonstrated, an obvious benefit to researchers. However,
> from my point of view, the electronic medium combined with the world
> wide web and open access allows for new, and greatly expanded, uses and
> benefits of scientific knowledge, which are not yet fully understood,
> and will not be fully realized for some time.
> For example, in the recent U.N. sponsored forum on Open Access, Rolf
> Neth, a German scientist who has worked in the area of medical research
> in Cherynobyl and Siberia, shares his view that "In our cooperation
> with Russian colleagues in the field of Leukaemia access - or rather
> the lack of access - to current research results was always a crucial
> factor." id=98584#98584. This
> led to a commitment to OA, and development of the Wilsede Portal to free
> scientific information.
> Many researchers will not have thought about the potential of OA to
> instantaneously provide access to our collective scholarly knowledge to
> fellow researchers and/or professionals working in the field who are
> attempting to cope with a humanitarian and/or environmental disaster
> such as Chernobyl. Raising awareness of this potential, to me, logically
> comes before asking people whether they think OA is important or not.
> Which is why, with all due respect to Alma and her need for hard
> data, I believe it is important to approach OA from a theoretical
> point of view, and also that qualititave research is needed, not just
> quantitative. Anecdotal evidence can help.
> With regards to Barbara's assessment of the need for OA in developing
> countries, I agree but would like to point out that the analogy of whether
> a hungry child would like a loaf for $2 or for free, greatly understates
> the cost of scholarly information as provided by subscription or on a
> pay-per- use basis. Even on a pay-per-use basis, costs per article tend
> to be range from around $10 U.S. per article and up. Since scholarly
> knowledge is not built on the reading of single articles, the price
> for the hungry child might be best expressed as rather more than the
> family's total annual income. The HINARI and AGORA programs do mitigate
> against these extremely high prices for some information, for some of
> the world's poorest peoples, of course. OA, however, has the potential
> to work this way with all of our scholarly information, for everyone,
> not just some people.
> best,
> Heather Morrison
> Project Coordinator
> BC Electronic Library Network
> 604-268-7001
> Fax: 604-291-3023
> WAC Bennett Library
> 8888 University Drive
> Burnaby, BC V5A 1S6
Received on Sun Oct 24 2004 - 21:59:22 BST

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