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: Tue, 30 Jan 2007 14:23:31 +0900

Mr Banks claims that he equates OA with OA to medical research "because it is
the way that the political debate in the US is framed". This is still no
answer to my point that even if medical research and dissemination is a
different beast to the rest of science and to social science and humanities,
that is no reason whatsoever to hold back the rest of academe from moving to

The fact that US senators (most of whom, IMHO, couldn't find their backside
with both hands and a map in most technical debates (* - see below)) make
daft points about open access does not detract from what those of us on this
list claim, and the vast majority of us are working scientist, many of us
working information scientists and computer scientists. What we are telling
you is that the current situation limits our ability to do our research. As
an interdisciplinary researcher I often find that my University does not
carry the journals I need to access in everything from Law (our Law School
focusses on Real Property mostly and so we do not subscribe to Intellectual
Property journals for instance) to Psychology (Our Psychology School is
mostly neuro- and developmental psychology and so we do not subscribe to
social psychology journals) to Philosophy and Ethics and many others besides.
I make no claims about medical research - I leave that to those who know that
area. I do know a great deal about information science and computer science
both as research disciplines and as subjects applicable to the study of OA.

In my own principal area, computer science, many journals are run in the way
I described - Universities providing many of the editorial resources and the
publisher providing only copy editing and layout skills (my own university
has a department of typography which provides consultancy on these issues and
a spin-off to provide such processes as a specific skill-set would not be
unreasonable) and then taking a substantial profit on both print and
electronic dissemination is not reasonable.

I have never claimed that OA is designed to give the layman access to the
research literature. In many areas the layman has no ability to understand
because they do not have the training to know the terminology and tropes in
use. Whether or not the layman uses this acccess and does something good, bad
or indifferent with it is outside the point. The point is that since the
public have invested heavily in funding the research then the exploitation of
the results of that research should be as wide as possible and to the public
benefit. This means that other researchers have easy, quick and cheap access
to those results (as allowed for by the internet) to pursue further research,
instead of diverting precious reserarch funding to the pockets of publishers
acting as gate-keepers charging a fee for academic communcation.

(*) See the "internet is a series of tubes" discussion which may well have
been a reasonable analogy for a knowledgeable man trying to explain a
technical concept to idiots, or an idiot trying to explain something he
didn't understand to a mix of idiots and knowledgeable men. Either way, it
shows the utter incompetence of many senators regarding the technology which
they have the power to try to regulate.

*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 Tue Jan 30 2007 - 12:53:56 GMT

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