Re: A Prophylactic Against the Edentation of the RCUK Policy Proposal

From: J.F.B.Rowland <J.F.Rowland_at_LBORO.AC.UK>
Date: Tue, 5 Jul 2005 13:46:09 +0100

This is a problem - the viability of smaller society publishers - that you
choose to leave aside, Stevan. That's o.k.; you are an academic, and you
think about academics' problems, like visibility and impact. The Chief
Executive of the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers
can't ignore it; it's her job to think about it. I choose to think about it
because, even though I am now an academic, I worked for the first half of my
career for learned society publishers. I am strongly in favour of OA and
institutional repositories, but I'm in favour of societies and their
publication programmes too, and I'd like to find a way of us having both.
These issues are bundled together. Bodies - like JISC, say - who are trying
to find a new and practicable way of organising scholarly communication.
They have to take into account all of the players in the game.


----- Original Message -----
From: "Stevan Harnad" <harnad_at_ECS.SOTON.AC.UK>
Sent: Tuesday, July 05, 2005 1:29 PM
Subject: Re: A Prophylactic Against the Edentation of the RCUK Policy

> On Tue, 5 Jul 2005, J.F.B.Rowland wrote:
>> While in general I agree with Stevan's comments about Sally Morris's
>> comments, it is important to remember that Sally is spokesperson for an
>> organisation of not-for-profit scholarly publishers, many of them small.
>> I
>> strongly support the institutional repository movement, and I am pleased
>> at
>> the RCUK statement. Big publishers - for-profit or not-for-profit - will
>> no
>> doubt look after their own interests robustly. However, I think there is
>> a
>> non-trivial problem for the medium- to long-term viability of the smaller
>> learned society publishers. I approve of those organisations too, and I
>> don't want to see them driven to the wall - their disappearance would be
>> damaging to the scholarly community. A business model, or preferably a
>> range of possible business models, needs to be found that will enable
>> these
>> organisations to prosper in a future environment dominated by OA
>> repositories. I don't think that problem is near solution yet.
> The point is that the problem is not only not near solution, but it is a
> hypothetical problem that is also not near being a problem yet, nor even
> being
> clear whether (and if so when) it will ever be a problem.
> The *real* problem, and the pressing one, is the one we keep forgetting
> about, because it has nothing whatsoever to do either with libraries
> budget problems or learned-society publisher (LSP) problem (small,
> medium or large), and that is: the research-impact-loss problem. This
> is a *huge* loss of resource *potential*, hence of potential research
> progress. (It also, if one wants to be crass, translates into lost
> potential research-based revenue.)
> There is nothing hypothetical at all about this loss. It is actual. All
> one need do to visualise it is to compare the research impact of the
> 15% of journal articles that have been self-archived with the 85% that
> have not:
> If one absolutely insists on weighing the hypothetical
> small-learned-society-publisher problem against the actual
> potential-research-impact-loss problem, the right way to do it is this:
> If there is indeed a contingency between LSPs and research impact,
> would researchers indeed be prepared to consider knowingly subsidising
> LSPs (or anyone) with their lost research impact?
> I think that, when made explicit like that, and faced squarely, the answer
> is obvious.
> As to "possible business models": they are dead-obvious too, but at this
> point
> they amount to hypothetical contingency piled upon hypothetical
> contingency:
> Let us wait till that hypothetical bridge is at least within
> Hubble-telescopic sight, before mustering our contingency plans for
> crossing it. There are far, far more pressing immediate priorities,
> namely, stanching the endless flow of needless daily, weekly, monthly
> research impact loss -- needless effectively since the onset of the
> online era (1980's), but undeniably heedless since the onset of the
> OAI-interoperable IR (1999) era and the demonstration of both the
> feasibility of self-archiving and its effects on research impact across
> all disciplines.
> Stevan Harnad
Received on Tue Jul 05 2005 - 13:46:09 BST

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