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

From: David Goodman <David.Goodman_at_LIU.EDU>
Date: Mon, 5 Sep 2005 17:28:44 -0400

Stevan can only "second-guess" the logic, but I can specify a little
more knowledgably about how libraries will think
when substantial journal content is available OA. As he recognizes,
at any given institution there will be some marginal journals that
have just escaped cancellation. Why does he not recognize that the
additional factor that first 25%, then 50%, then 75%, then almost all,
 of the content is readily available elsewhere will be quite enough for
most librarians (and faculty) to justify their cancellation. Then next
year there will be the next stratum of lowest-value journals still
remaining, and again the percentage readily available otherwise
will be a factor. And, as he says "seriatim. "

Like Stevan, I think it probable that this will not seriously affect the
high-quality journals, and for the reasons he cites, but we cannot
prove it, only wait and see. However I think it almost certainly will
affect the lower quality journals, but I cannot prove it, or he disprove it.

There are ways of preventing or minimizing the loss of subscriptions,
and it is suggestive that physics, which has seen few cancellations, is
the area where many of the most important journals have had no
price increases for several years. If other publishers did the same,
perhaps their journals would survive. I see that a few are
not increasing prices for next year, so perhaps others
 too will come to a clearer understanding of their basic interests.

Librarians are responsible to the students and the faculty
for getting the material that users need.
While publishers provide this most effectively, they will buy as many
journals as they can afford. To the extent that this is not
most effectively done by publishers, they will make use of other routes,
of which OA is the most obvious and the best.

The authors and readers do have the last word, which they express
by what journals they publish in, read, or cite, all of which
librarians routinely measure. When price increases require cuts,
cuts there will be--the most the faculty will need to decide is which
particular titles shall be cancelled. The library budget is
not set by the physics faculty. When prices increase more than funds, if
the faculty intend to keep all their journals, they must contribute some money.
In twenty-five years as an academic librarian, I have know only one instance
of such contribution, and it was not in the sciences.

Dr. David Goodman
Associate Professor
Palmer School of Library and Information Science
Long Island University

-----Original Message-----
From: American Scientist Open Access Forum on behalf of Stevan Harnad
Sent: Mon 9/5/2005 11:43 AM
Subject: Re: Leading academics back UK Research Councils on self-archiving
On Mon, 5 Sep 2005, Sally Morris (ALPSP) wrote:

> But if the problem is access, and we reach a situation where a large
> proportion of the content of some journals (even, perhaps, if it's in a
> less-than-final version) is freely and easily available, what responsible
> cash-strapped librarian would not choose to cancel those journals in order
> to retain the rest? I just don't see the logic in doing otherwise...

"The point you are missing, Sally, is that the problem is impact for
authors and access for users, but the user's access problem is on an
article by article basis, varying from user to user, as a function of
the user's field and whatever journals his institution can afford. (This
is the only link with journal affordability, and it is a very
distributed one.) *If* an article happens to be published in a journal
that that particular user's institution cannot afford, then that user
will have to use the author's self-archived OA draft; otherwise, the user
can and will use the publisher's value-added version.

There is no basis for whole-journal cancellation in what I have just
described. It is an anarchic author/article/user-based question of who
uses which version of which article in which journal. There are no
implications there for whole-journals and their potential cancelation.
The role of the OA version is, as has been noted over and over, a
supplement, not a substitute -- and a supplement anarchically
distributed worldwide, depending on the article, journal, field, and
institution of the author and the user.

So in second-guessing the logic of the "cash-strapped librarian," one
should, in the service of seemliness, not portray the problem as that
of continuing to bleed stones dry, but the more upbeat one that journals
will continue to compete for librarians' limited available cash, and they
should compete for it on the value-added end, not on the access-denial
end. Journal budgets are and always have been finite, and well below the
bounds of being able to afford most or even many out of the total number of
journals on offer; it's always been about which among the small affordable
fraction to keep or to swap, year by year, seriatim.

So it continues now. Self-archiving does not advantage or disadvantage
any particular journal in this regard. Even less so does a mere UK
self-archiving mandate.
But it's not libraians, in any case, who have the last word on
cancellations. It is institutional researchers. And physicists have
no wish to cancel their journals, or journals in general.
Nevertheless, if you ask these physicists, as either authors or users,
whether the journals should be canceled, they will say no -- and they are
right! As authors, they want the peer-review and certification for their
work; and as users, they want to be sure there is an authoritative
version-of-record to cite -- and to check in any cases of doubt about
the self-archived version. They all quite naturally see the self-archived
corpus, even if it is the one accessed most, as a supplement to the
official journal version, not a substitute for it.
Even better, if the "evidence" -- of zero correlation between cancelations
and self-archiving (controlling for the other factors affecting baseline
cancellations across time) is merely "anecdotal," it would be very
useful to see whether there actually exists qunatitative evidence of a
nonzero correlation between cancelations and self-archiving (controlling
for the other factors affecting baseline cancellations across time) --
for that is what Sally needs to sustain her (otherwise already refuted)
hypothesis about what the "cash-strapped librarians" will/would do "
Received on Tue Sep 06 2005 - 13:17:08 BST

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