Re: CERN successful green policy and ongoing efforts to promote gold

From: Rick Anderson <rickand_at_UNR.EDU>
Date: Thu, 15 Dec 2005 14:13:14 -0800

> The urgent immediate problem is to reach 100% OA; that is not
> a *partial* solution to the immediate access problem:
> It is a total solution.

Here we see one illustration of the problem that Sally pointed out
earlier today -- that of one man trying to impose his own definition of
OA on an entire industry. Stevan makes two assertions here, one tacit
and one explicit, and neither one uncontroversial:

1. (Tacit) That the definition of "OA" is "immediate self-archiving"
(this is what he means by "100% OA")
2. (Explicit) That immediate self-archiving is a total solution to the
problem of providing immediate access.

Leaving aside the question of whether Stevan's definition of OA is
universally appropriate, let's look at the second assertion -- that
self-archiving is a "total solution" to the access problem. It seems to
me that this will not be true until tools exist to make self-archived
articles as easily and quickly discoverable as formally published ones.
In my experience, such is not the case. One of the very real benefits
of formal publication is that it makes content relatively easy to find.
A very real downside of self-archiving is that self-archived content is
often quite difficult to track down, even if one has free access to it
once it's found. Until self-archived content is as easy to get to as
formally published content, 100% OA self-archiving will only be a total
solution to the problem of immediate *theoretical* access -- the problem
of immediate *real* access will remain only partially solved.

Here's something else to consider: that universal self-archiving would
likely drive at least some publishers out of business (a very real
possibility regardless of whether OA advocates intend for that to
happen), leaving a marketplace richer in providers that don't do a good
job of delivering content (self-archives) and poorer in providers that
do deliver content well (publishers). When we start thinking about the
potential ramifications of universal immediate self-archiving, it starts
sounding less like a "total solution" and more like a whole new set of
problems. Which, frankly, is probably all that can be expected in an
imperfect world. Promises of a "total solution" should always be
regarded with deep skepticism, whether from publishers or from system
vendors or from evangelists.

Rick Anderson
Dir. of Resource Acquisition
University of Nevada, Reno Libraries
(775) 784-6500 x273  
Received on Thu Dec 15 2005 - 23:25:47 GMT

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