Re: PR's 'pit bull' takes on open access: excerpts from article in Nature Magazine

From: Andrew A. Adams <A.A.Adams_at_READING.AC.UK>
Date: Mon, 29 Jan 2007 14:24:26 +0900

Andrew A. Adams wrote:
> "For some journals, though not all I will admit, the vast majority of the
> time
> of the main editor, regional/sub-editors and even the administrative support
> for those editors, is paid for by their employing university. They do this
> partly because of the kudos associated with having the journal editor as one
> of their staff and also because the staff members wish to do it and
> academics
> to some extent still have power over how their research time is spent."
> This is absolutely and categorically untrue for most major medical journals.
> The era when medical schools granted free space for editorial offices or
> allowed editors to work uncompensated is long past.
> For example, one client of mine, a major nonprofit publisher in clinical
> medicine, is currently supporting the editorial offices of its 5 journals to
> the tune of $3.2 million per year.
> You, like so many in the OA community, are looking at small journals in
> basic or social science and assuming that the funding is the the same for
> medical journals (which are the center of public policy debate). Enlightened
> debate on this topic demands that we not start with false assumptions.

You are equating OA to all of science, social science and humanities with
medical research. Medical research is a small part of the total research
output. It is an important one, but it is only a small part. Consider the
ArXiv, which focusses on physics and some related materials, such as relevant
computer science and mathematics.

Now, it is possible that the services of publishers are so vital to a set of
medical sciences that they must be maintained. But that is no reason not to
move to full OA as soon as easily as possible in the rest of academia. Oh,
and before you claim that medical publishing is similarly cross-subsidised by
other areas, please make sure that you provide some basis for such a claim
(given the rises in subscription costs in medicine in particular in the last
ten years I cannot see this being so).

As for who might replace the publishers, it need not be a single university
that does so. Organisations such as JISC can fund the development and
maintenance of IT infrastructure and scholarly societies, once they can get
away from their terror of having to find a new way ot funding their other
activities, can also step in. PLoS and PubMedCentral also provide potential

The biggest problem here is academic inertia. If senior academics, of whom I
am not (yet) one could begin the move by shifting their expertise to journals
with Green-OA-friendly policies, moving across to Gold OA journals as
editors, referees and board members. Junior academics such as myself who are
suffering in trying to get their careers going without sufficient access to
materials because our library budgets have been squeezed, are the ones paying
the biggest price, yet we have little opportunity to shift the system yet.

Hopefully we can move towards OA more quickly. In the end, however, we may
have to move to it just as science progresses - one funeral (or rather,
retirement these days) at a time.

*E-mail*********  Dr Andrew A Adams
**snail*27 Westerham Walk**********  School of Systems Engineering
***mail*Reading RG2 0BA, UK********  The University of Reading
****Tel*+44-118-378-6997***********  Reading, United Kingdom
Received on Mon Jan 29 2007 - 11:16:47 GMT

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