Re: Self-Archiving and Journal Subscriptions: Critique of PRC Study

From: Jan Velterop <>
Date: Wed, 15 Nov 2006 09:04:46 -0500

What Beckett and Inger do amounts to market research. A sound practice
in any line of business, and always flawed, because what is measured is
intentions. What Harnad wants is an analysis afterwards, dismissing
market research, saying that it is not the same as evidence (though it
is, albeit of intentions). That is also flawed, in that it amounts to
destructive testing. Surely it must be better to try and find out
beforehand if there is a(n entirely logical) change to be expected in
the climate amongst librarians (the ones who would pay, after all, in a
self-archiving mode), than to find oneself in an irreversible situation
struggling to cope with the consequences. It is a question of whether
one applies the precautionay principle or not. One thing is clear, this
is not a discussion about open access per se, but about the ways to
achieve it.

It is worth finding structural ways to achieve and sustain open access.

What weakens the current publishers' position (independents as well as
societies) is that not everyone gives the choice of open access to the
authors for all -- or even any -- of their journals.

What weakens the self-archivers' position is that they desire the
'goods', but expect those to pay for it who would have more of a logical
reason *not* to pay (i.e. librarians, through subscriptions).

What is needed is a better appreciation of what 'publishing' in a
journal actually is. It is not the 'making public', as that can be done
easily enough without a publisher of any kind. It is more like 'making
public under a plausible and creditable banner'. That is both more
difficult and more costly than it might seem, superficially.

Managing that process, which is a service to the scientific community,
carries costs. Paying for those costs via subscriptions is a historic
relic and flawed in an internet world, whether these subscriptions are
sustaining the 'mother' journals of self-archived articles or not.
Publishing is part of research, and therefore the cost of publishing is
part of the cost of research. An article processing fee model is the way
to sustainable open access. The so-called BOAI-1 and BOAI-2 are not
symmetrical or even dimensions in the same space. (Self-)archiving is
part of OA publishing; OA publishing is not part of self-archiving.
Beckett and Inger, and most of their respondents, have understood that.

Received on Wed Nov 15 2006 - 16:18:43 GMT

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