Re: Journal Publishing and Author Self-Archiving: Complementary Or Competitive?

From: Matthew Cockerill <matt_at_BIOMEDCENTRAL.COM>
Date: Wed, 24 Aug 2005 11:21:05 +0100

Leslie Carr writes:
'Remember, "the open-access version is a supplement to, not a substitute for, the toll-access version".

Quoting, I believe, Stevan's previous posting to the list:

"Self-archiving the publisher's PDF is not necessary (except where
encouraged by the publisher) because the self-archived version is a
*supplement* to the official toll-access version, not a *substitute*
for it. It is intended for all those potential users worldwide whose
institutions cannot afford access to the toll-access version. The
publisher's PDF (or XML) version remains the official version of record
and should always be linked from your self-archived supplement."

I do find this position perplexing. Stevan is fond of saying that self-archiving of the authors final version is a complete solution, addressing all concerns that there could possibly be about access to the literature. Nothing more is necessary, in his view. But he then follows that by, effectively, saying that access to the self-archived copy is a less-than-adequate replacement for the toll-access version, and gives second-class access to those second-class citizens of the scientific community who can't afford access to the official version of record.

You can't have your cake and eat it:

(a) the OA author's copy is a fully adequate, equally good substitute for the offical version.
In which case, as long as effective discovery is in place, there is no reason to subscribe to a toll access journal.
(b) the OA author's copy is better than nothing, but not as good as having access to the official version.

If (a) is true, then ultimately subscriptions will surely decline, and if open access is to continue, publishers will need to evolve towards a mode of cost recovery other than toll access.

If (b) is true, then OA self-archiving of the author's final version, while a hugely important step forward, is not an optimal, unimprovable solution. If full open access to the official version is possible, then that is clearly preferable and would better serve the needs of the research community.
BioMed Central, along with a rapidly growing number of other open access publishers, is clearly demonstrating that full access to the official version *is* possible, and is no less economically viable than a toll-access model.

Matt Cockerill
Director of Operations, BioMed Central Ltd.

> From: Leslie Carr <lac_at_ECS.SOTON.AC.UK>
> Date: 23 August 2005 17:23:44 BDT
> Subject: Re: Leading academics back UK Research Councils on
> self-archiving
> Reply-To: American Scientist Open Access Forum
> On 23 Aug 2005, at 16:37, J.F.B.Rowland wrote:
> If an item can be obtained free of charge, for how
> long will people go on buying it?
> If that were the choice then publishers would truly be in an awful
> position. However, if the items that a publisher provides have more
> value than the ones that can be found for free on the internet then
> there is still a reason for subscription.
> Remember "the open-access version is a supplement to, not a
> substitute for, the toll-access version".
> ---
> Les Carr
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Received on Wed Aug 24 2005 - 21:44:27 BST

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