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

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Tue, 30 May 2006 17:04:16 +0100

The ALPSP has made its response to the latest call for an OA Self-Archiving
Mandate, and Peter Suber has decisively rebutted it in OA News (see below).

Now on with the mandate!

        ALPSP response to the EC report
The ALPSP has released its response (May 30, 2006)
to the EC report and its OA recommendations (March 31, 2006).
    "Although the study was an independent one and has been published
    as the basis for consultation, from which policy decisions may
    subsequently follow, the CommissionÔ^└^┘s own press release did not
    mention that the study was independent, and thus implied that its
    conclusions and recommendations were supported by the Commission....
    "We are concerned at the suggestion that the EC should mandate
    self-archiving for the results of EC-funded research. The primary
    output of most research is data; in their raw form (before any third
    party has invested in making it usable and retrievable through a
    database) we fully support the view that such data should indeed,
    be freely available. The same could be said of any project reports
    submitted to the funder. However, bringing to the market, through a
    reputable journal, one or more articles which describe and interpret
    the findings is a costly business. Great care is necessary to ensure
    that any alternative free access does not undermine the journals in
    which scholars wish to publish their work....Different time delays of
    up to a year or even longer may be necessary, depending on whether the
    subject is a rapidlymoving one, and on the frequency of publication
    of the journal; a fixed period should not be arbitrarily imposed by
    the research funder....
    "Where the article is made freely available by the publisher
    (whether in a wholly or partly Open Access journal, or as a special
    arrangement with the funder) it is preferable that users have access
    to the version on the publisherÔ^└^┘s site where it will include all
    the functionality added by the publisher, such as links to cited
    articles and supplementary materials.  In no circumstances should
    the funder or any other third party take the authorÔ^└^┘s manuscript
    and Ô^└^ěre-publishÔ^└^┘ it with functionality which competes with that
    added by the publisher....
    "The authors appear to recognise (page 71) that, once all or most
    of a journalÔ^└^┘s content was easily accessible in free archives,
    journal subscriptions would be adversely affected. We are already
    finding that, where this is the case (e.g. in physics and related
    disciplines) downloads on the publisherÔ^└^┘s own site are falling
    dramatically as usage migrates to the free site. While librarians do
    not yet see free archives as a substitute for subscriptions Ô^└^Ë they
    would need to contain near to 100% of a journalÔ^└^┘s content for this
    to be the case Ô^└^Ë they do already see usage as an important driver
    of cancellation decisions. We therefore fear that it can only be a
    matter of time before cancellations follow.├"
Rebuttal by Peter Suber. I've often replied to the concern that mandated
self-archiving will harm journal subscriptions. But to recap quickly: on
the one hand, all the evidence to date suggests that there is no harm,
even in fields where the rate of self-archiving approaches 100%. And
on the other hand, even if there will be harm, the public interest in
public access to publicly-funded research takes priority over the economic
interests of a private-sector industry. The ALPSP response emphasizes the
fear of economic harm to journals, but doesn't even address the second
fork in this two-prong debate, why the economic prosperity of publishers
(even if proved to be at stake in these policies) should trump the public
interest. As I put it in SOAN for 11/2/04, "publishers who object to
[national OA policies] are defending the remarkable proposition that
they should control access to research conducted by others, written up
by others, and funded by taxpayers."
Permanent link to the OA News posting by Peter Suber at 5/30/2006 07:46:00 AM.
Received on Tue May 30 2006 - 18:17:01 BST

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