Solving the Article Accessibility Problem Moots the Journal Affordability Problem

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Wed, 22 Nov 2006 01:00:37 +0000

On the premise that the Article Accessibility problem is solved, there is no
longer any Journal Affordability problem left. Let us suppose (and hope)
that researchers' institutions and funders soon mandate, at long last, that
their employees/fundees (or their assigns) do the pathetically small number
of keystrokes it takes to self-archive all their final, peer-reviewed drafts
in their own Institutional Repositories immediately upon acceptance for

That will generate 100% Open Access (OA).

Once it is no longer true that any would-be user is unable to access an
article because his institution cannot afford the journal in which it
happens to have been published, there is no longer any Accessibility
Problem. Librarians' annual agony over which journals to keep and which to
cancel within the constraints of their finite serials budgets (never
anywhere near enough to afford all published journals) will be over. They
can purchase as many as they can afford from among those journals for which
their users indicate that they would still quite like to have them in-house
(whether out of desire for the paper edition or for online add-ons, or out
of habit, sentimentality, loyalty, civic-mindedness or superstition):
Nothing important hinges on the choice or the outcome once it is sure that
no potential user is any longer doing without (hence no research or
researcher is any longer needlessly losing impact because of access denial).

To ever have thought otherwise is simply to have conflated the Accessibility
and Affordability problems: Accessibility was always what made Affordability
a problem at all.

And before the inevitable, tedious question is asked about how the essential
costs of peer-reviewed journal publishing will continue to be covered
if/when subscriptions become unsustainable, please consult the prophets:

(Publishing will adapt, cutting the costs of the inessentials, downsizing to
the essentials, possibly right down to peer-review service-provision alone;
those irreducible essential costs will then be covered on the OA
cost-recovery model, out of a fraction of the annual institutional windfall
savings from the institutional journal cancellations. Till that income
stream is released, however, OA Publishing is OA-Publicatio Praecox...)

Stevan Harnad
Received on Wed Nov 22 2006 - 03:27:53 GMT

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