Re: ALPSP's Facts About OA Report

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Thu, 13 Oct 2005 21:54:50 +0100

    Slight correction: The Kurtz STM talk will
    be at the Frankfurt Book Fair (all next week)
    The Frankfurt Scientific Publishing Meeting
    follows on from that, over the following weekend.

Stevan Harnad

On Thu, 13 Oct 2005, Stevan Harnad wrote:

> On Thu, 13 Oct 2005, Sally Morris (ALPSP) wrote:
> > As far as the 'self-archiving' route to OA is concerned, I must have
> > explained our concern a hundred times; let me spell it out yet again:
> >
> > Let us assume that self-archiving mandates become widespread, and that
> > tools such as Google Scholar make self-archived articles as easy to
> > discover as the published versions.
> >
> > Then if free substitute versions are available for all or most of the
> > content of a given journal, and if these are used by library patrons in
> > preference to the published version, the rational librarian will not
> > purchase the published version
> But if, as all the studies to date show, library patrons use the library
> licensed published version for those articles that their libraries can
> afford, and use the author's self-archived OA version for those they
> cannot, what is Sally's and ALPSP's rationale for keeping them deprived of
> the articles their libraries cannot afford? and for keeping the authors
> of those articles deprived of that usage and impact? Is the rationale
> that the need to protect publishers' from any possibility of risk of
> a decline in subscription revenues (for which there does not yet exist
> even a single shred of evidence today ) takes precedence over all these
> author and user needs -- over all of these *research* needs?
> Nor do subscriptions and cancellations depend primarily on the "rational
> librarian": they depend on their user/author communities, who are not
> calling for cancellations, but for access to what their libraries cannot
> afford, and for the impact that their own articles lose, from users at other
> institutions whose libraries cannot afford the journal they were published
> in.
> > If subscriptions fall dramatically, journals will no longer be viable and
> > will cease publication
> Repeating this "a hundred times" and a hundred times more does not make it one
> whit more a statement of actual fact, rather than the counterfactual "if/then"
> conjecture that it is, and continues to be, with not a shred of evidence to
> support the "if."
> I advise Sally to attend the STM session in Frankfurt next week in which
> Michael Kurtz of astrophysics of Harvard will be presenting the data
> of Edwin Henneken on usage by astrophysicists, showing how they switch
> from using the preprint to using the publisher's published version as
> soon as it is available -- except those who cannot afford access, who
> continue to use the self-archived postprint.
> > If journals are no longer there to carry out their current functions (not
> > just the management of peer review, but also
> > selection/refinement/collection of content of particular relevance to a
> > given community of interest) that will be a great loss to scholarship
> So would every other negative if/then counterfactual that I or Sally
> or Pascal or anyone else could dream up, but that doesn't make their
> if-premises any truer either, not even after being repeated thousands
> of times. And the more use raise the hypothetical ante, the more ominous
> it sounds -- without becoming one bit truer.
> "Pascal's Wager and Open Access"
> So let me say it straight out: All evidence is that what is in the best interests of
> the research community and what is in the best interests of the publisher community
> can co-exist peacefully with self-archiving. But if there ever were a conflict of
> interest, there is no doubt whatsoever about the direction in which it would have
> to be resolved: the dog (research production), not the tail (research publishing).
> > I do not argue that society or indeed other publishers have any right to
> > continue to perform their current function. I'm just pointing out that they
> > may be unable to do so if self-archiving sweeps the board as some would
> > like it to do. That is why we are urging caution to those who would
> > mandate immediate self-archiving.
> Self-archiving mandates are not for "sweeping the board," they are
> for providing access to those researchers who *actually* can't afford
> it today, and thereby providing their lost impact to the research and
> researchers that are actually losing it today. The sweepingly overboard
> statements about counterfactual disaster scenarios, in contrast, are
> coming from those who are trying to protect actual, unchanged publisher
> revenue streams from counterfactual, hypothetical risk, at the cost of
> certain and sizeable benefits to research, researchers, their institutions,
> their funders, and the public that funds their research -- i.e., the canid
> rather than its queue.
> Stevan Harnad
Received on Thu Oct 13 2005 - 22:14:56 BST

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