Re: European Commission recommends Open Access archiving for publicly-funded research

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Thu, 20 Apr 2006 23:33:57 +0100

Far be it from me to presume to be privy to the secret subtleties of
euro-speak or euro-creep. I entirely defer to Barry's experience and
expertise in fathoming the difference between "recommending" and "moving
toward." If I am right, the EC report is reason for optimism; if Barry is
right, the EC is still back at square one and merely talking the talk.
(One is tempted to say "time will tell" but the only telling temporal
factor in all this is that it is all already grotesquely overdue, and
history is already poised to laugh at us for having taken so long do what
in hindsight will be the stunningly obvious!) -- SH

On Thu, 20 Apr 2006, Barry Mahon wrote:

> > Re:
> >> European Commission "Study on the Economic and Technical Evolution of
> >> the Scientific Publication Markets in Europe" policy recommendation:
> >>
> .....
> > SH: The point is that the EC too -- along with the UK Select Committee,
> > the RCUK, Berlin 3, the Wellcome Trust and NIH (among others) is
> > moving toward the (inevitable, optimal) decision to mandate Open
> > Access Self-Archiving -- in order to maximise research access and
> > impact. A splendid thing, and a long overdue boost to research,
> > researchers, and the tax-payers who support them.
> Unaccustomed as I am to disagreeing with you Stevan I would respectfully suggest that a recommendation from a study undertaken by the EC is hardly an indication that the "the EC too.... is moving toward"......
> The original call for tenders for the work was published in July 2003, the work commenced in June 2004, the results were released in 2006. The Commission says ‚^ņ^” ‚^ņ^‹[the report] was commissioned as a contribution to on-going public debate on the conditions of access to and dissemination of scientific publications. There have been significant changes in the landscape over the last 30 years, in particular the rise of internet use‚^ņ^›
> The study was carried out by a consortium led by Professor Mathias Dewatripont of the Université Libre de Bruxelles.
> The press release accompanying the report contains an interesting sentence ‚^ņ^” ‚^ņ^‹Given the scarcity of public money to provide access to scientific publications, there is a strong interest in seeing that Europe has an effective and functioning system for scientific publication that speedily delivers results to a wide audience‚^ņ^› This remark does not sit easily with a sentence in the Executive Summary ‚^ņ^‹[the report] first discusses the significant difference between this market and the ‚^ņ^ōideal perfectly competitive market‚^ņ^Ŕ. Beyond the key role of public funding of authors, referees and journal purchases, it is worth stressing that this is an intermediated market, where libraries are the key buyers, which leads to lower reader price sensitivity‚^ņ^›
> The Report states that ‚^ņ^‹Due to the small number of responses [16] and to the incompleteness of the responses received, the data [about pricing and costs, and about strategies for the long term preservation of electronic journals, requested from ALPSP and the Federation of European Publishers] could not be exploited for the study‚^ņ^›.
> You may well be right in your assumptions, but I doubt if this report will have much influence.....
> Bye, Barry
Received on Fri Apr 21 2006 - 05:01:08 BST

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