Re: Leading academics back UK Research Councils on self-archiving

From: Rick Anderson <rickand_at_UNR.EDU>
Date: Tue, 23 Aug 2005 09:09:27 -0700

> I think Sally Morris is on somewhat stronger ground than
> Stevan allages -
> although the suggestion that widespread use of OA repositories will
> ultimately harm the subscription sales of journals is only a
> prediction, it
> is afairly logical one. If an item can be obtained free of
> charge, for how
> long will people go on buying it?

One important factor will be the ease with which the content in OA
repositories can be found. A significant added value that journals
provide is ease of access. A few months ago I conducted an admittedly
small-scale and not terribly scientific experiment of my own, but one
that I think is suggestive. I went to the website of the Journal of
Economic Literature, a certified "green" publication. I found the table
of contents for the September 2004 issue, and saw that it contained six
articles. I did one or more Google searches for each article, using a
phrase from the title and one or more authors' last names as search
terms. Of the six articles, I found four in publicly-available online
archives. Of those four, I found two easily, one with moderate
difficulty and one only after employing multiple search strategies and
poking around in a fairly determined manner. Two I was unable to find
at all.

Now, my difficulty in finding much of that issue's content may be down
to my own incompetence as a searcher. But I'm a pretty good searcher,
and I'll bet I'm at least as good as most of the people who have an
interest in this content. Remember that the relevant question isn't
whether it's _possible_ to track down all of these "green" articles, but
whether it's _easy_ enough to offset the value added by a
traditionally-published journal. If authors could be counted on
consistently to self-archive when given the option of doing so, and if
it were easier to find self-archived articles on the Web, then I would
be much more optimistic about self-archiving as a viable alternative to
traditional journal publishing. For now, though, it looks to me like
traditional publishers still add quite a bit of value to the content
they publish. That's not to say that they have nothing to fear, but I
think it suggests that they still have an important place in the
publishing world.

Rick Anderson
Dir. of Resource Acquisition
University of Nevada, Reno Libraries
(775) 784-6500 x273  
Received on Tue Aug 23 2005 - 18:54:07 BST

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