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

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Fri, 26 Aug 2005 01:25:12 -0400

On Thu, 25 Aug 2005, Sally Morris (ALPSP) wrote:

> What do you consider the problem to be that all these bodies have

The problem is *research access* for those would-be users worlwide
who cannot afford the journal version of any given piece of research
(2.5 million published yearly, in 24,000 journals). And the solution is
self-archiving of the author's version.

> If, as I surmise, it is 'the library problem', how will self-archiving
> solve it other than by removing the necessity to subscribe to
> journals? And how will that not damage journals and, thus, the processes
> (peer review and much more) that they support?

The problem is *not* the library problem (though that was one of the
symptoms). The problem is the access problem, and self-archiving will
solve the access problem for those who have the access problem -- those
who cannot afford to subscribe to the journal in which the article happens
to be published. And, to repeat, there is zero evidence to date that
self-archiving damages journals, even in those fields where it has been
practiced the longest and most extensively. (Though even if there were
evidence, the advantages to research vastly outweigh the disadvantages
to publishers, who will just have to adapt if and when they ever need
to. Necessity is the Mother of Onvention; but there's no necessity in
sight yet.)

> We have indeed put forward an alternative solution, as David would know if
> he had read our submission to the S&T committee. We believe that real
> national licences (as opposed to the NESLI opt-in approach) would work

National licenses do not solve the problem for the journals that nations
cannot afford. Or does Sally think all nations can and should subscribe
to all journals? (That is indeed every merchant's dream, isn't it? a
guaranteed worldwide market...)

Stevan Harnad
Received on Fri Aug 26 2005 - 11:03:58 BST

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