Re: Critique of J-C Guedon's Serials Review article on Open Access

From: Heather Morrison <>
Date: Sat, 1 Jan 2005 18:24:09 -0800

Here is my critique of: The "Green" and "Gold" Roads to Open Access:
    The Case for Mixing and Matching
    Jean-Claude Guédon, Serials Review 30(4) 2004

Anyone who has been feeling that the discussions around open access have
been excessively divisive may find this article rather refreshing - as the
author concludes, "The vision presented here is nondogmatic. It leaves
plenty of room for revisions, critiques, and reevaluations. It tries to
present a constructive evolutionary scenario where the “green” and “gold”
roads can find their proper place without feeling in competition with one

J-C Guédon's article, in my opinion, is the most profound piece of writing
on the underlying issues relating to open access available today. Guédon
discusses with candor and in depth the advantages and disadvantages of the
various approaches to both the green and the gold roads, and discusses or
touches on a number of important but neglected related issues, such as

I would heartily recommend that anyone involved in any aspect of open access
discussions read this article - thoroughly, and more than once. In my
opinion, Guédon even presents a more eloquent and conherent defence of
toll-based access than I've heard from its own proponents lately. (This
isn't saying much, though - many of the more recent arguments of OA
opponents have been downright silly).

Guédon presents many ideas that are worthy of discussion. For example, he
touches on the factor of the readers' attention - like the rest of us, a
researcher may read just enough to get on with their research. My question,
on reading this, is: will this approach to researching ultimately result in
wasting research dollars through reinventing the wheel - redoing research
that has already been done, because time was not taken for an exhaustive
literature search prior to starting the research? If this is a possibility,
what can be done by way of prevention?

Librarians in particular would be wise to read this article in depth, from
my viewpoint, as it points to some of the reasons why I believe that the
skills of librarians are very much needed in the changes taking place in
scholarly communication. For example, the section on accessibility talks
about the connections between reader and reading material - it isn't just
about whether one can access the article or not, it's about whether readers
will be able to connect in ways that are meaningful to them, for example via
a search started in their favorite search tool. An article may be totally
open access, and yet not used if not accessible in ways that are meaningful
to the reader.

One last reason for recommending this article is the quality of Guédon's
writing. David Goodman on Liblicense recently referred to J-C Guedon's
style as elegantly incisive, and thanked Guédon
for exposure to his expanded vision. I would second that opinion. It's no
wonder that an earlier piece of Guédon's, In Oldenburg's Long Shadow - has been translated into
five languages. I also highly recommend this work, as an in-depth look at
scholarly communications from a more historical perspective.

To sum up: from my viewpoint, J-C Guédon's article is profound and
beautifully written - a "must-read" for anyone seriously interested in open
access. Kudos to David Goodman for inviting submission of this article. On
a practical note, I hear that for those who need to get up to speed on the
facts relating to OA as they stand at present, David Goodman's article, "The
Criteria for Open Access", in the same issue, is a good place to start.

Happy New Year to all! May 2005 be just as productive for open access as
2004...but more congenial.

Heather Morrison
Project Coordinator
BC Electronic Library Network
Fax: 604-291-3023
WAC Bennett Library
8888 University Drive
Burnaby, BC V5A 1S6
Received on Sun Jan 02 2005 - 11:54:12 GMT

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