Re: Royal Society Offers Open Choice

From: Jan Velterop <openaccess_at_BTINTERNET.COM>
Date: Sun, 25 Jun 2006 19:59:24 +0100

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On 25 Jun 2006, at 12:34, Stevan Harnad wrote:

> Jan Velterop has both priorities and event-order exactly backwards,
> and I suspect he may not even be aware of it.

Too facile a comment to respond to in any serious way.

† † (1) 100% OA has been repeatedly demonstrated to benefit
† † researchers and the public that funds research.


† † (2) Immediate, 100% OA has been repeatedly demonstrated to be
† † achievable in practise, rapidly and reliably, by mandating OA
† † self-archiving.

† † (3) There exists no evidence whatsoever to date that OA
† † reduces subscriptions.

† † (4) Publishers are nevertheless lobbying against mandating OA
† † self-archiving (with no supporting evidence) on the grounds
that it
† † might threaten their business.

† † (5) In place of mandating OA self-archiving, publishers are now
† † lobbying for mandates to pay publishers their asking price for
† † providing paid OA.

Mandates to pay publishers their asking price? Has he ever heard of the
notions of competition and negotiation? Stevan will not have actually
read what has been proposed, at least by the publisher I represent; I do
not speak for others. It's this: "We propose that a modified S.
2695†require open access, immediately upon publication, of journal
articles resulting from†federally funded research, that their publication
with open access be supported financially†by ^—article processing
charges^“, and that these charges be required to be paid out of†overheads
on federal research grants."

This is about a principle; not about an 'asking price', but that may be a
tad too subtle for Stevan. Note the words 'require open access,
immediately upon publication" in the proposed modification (see also
Stevan's point 4).†

The next sentence is this:†In this way the government would both ensure
the†survival of existing and proven mechanisms that deliver reliable and
properly validated
scientific publications, as well as immediate public access to scientific
and medical†research."†If†Stevan†were†truly†in†favour†of†immediate and
sustainable OA, he would endorse this. But he seems to be about
cost-evasion more than about OA.

† † (6) The asking price is being set at a time when subscriptions
† † paying all publishing costs and there exists no evidence at all
† † self-archiving reduces subscription revenue.

OA publishing, on the other hand, *would* reduce subscription revenue,
for the simple reason that subscription prices would go down with the
uptake of OA.††Stevan doesn't seem to understand that subscription costs
and article processing costs are each others replacements. The only
difference between the two is access: article processing charges ensure
open access; subscriptions do not.

† † (7) If research funders and researchers are able and willing,
† † now, to mandate and provide for paying publishers' asking
† † all is well.


† † (8) But if research funders and researchers are *not* able or
† † right now, to mandate and provide for paying publishers' asking
† † then publishers are delaying and deterring a demonstrated
benefit for
† † researcher, researchers and the public on the basis of no
† † of any actual cost (let alone substantial cost) to themselves.

And then funders and researchers are just leaving it to the charitable
nature of librarians to keep paying for subscriptions to sustain the
formal peer-reviewed journal literature. Charitable as the librarians may
be, relying on them to pay for subscriptions to journals of which all the
research articles are freely available anyway, is not what I would regard
a solid stable basis for sustaining the system of formal peer-reviewed
research publications.

† † (9) The rational and practical thing for research funders and
† † institutions to do under these conditions would be to act on
† † has already been demonstrated to be true: Mandate OA
† † generate its demonstrated benefits for research, researchers
† † the public, and thereby *test*, at very the same time, whether
† † it induces any subscription decline -- and if so whether that
† † decline is substantial enough to require restructuring
† † cost-recovery system.

† † (10) With the objective evidence that cost-recovery needs to be
† † restructured will come the funds for paying for it -- because
† † institutional subscription cancellations mean corresponding
† † institutional subscription savings, out of which institutions
† † then pay for their researchers' publishing costs using the same
† † money that is currently being spent on subscriptions -- instead
† † extra money taken from what is currently being spent on

Sure, but why wait and in the mean time set up costly †institutional
repositories†(cash,† i.e. the 'extra money taken from what is currently
being spent on research' that he mentions,†as well as other
resources)?††And not just costly, but OA-wise sub-optimal (no final
published version, no built-in reference and other links, different
versions, cumbersome to locate, et cetera).†

Jan Velterop
Received on Sun Jun 25 2006 - 21:40:12 BST

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