Re: Stop fighting the inevitable - and free funds for open access!

From: Donat Agosti <agosti_at_AMNH.ORG>
Date: Wed, 31 Jan 2007 09:23:59 +0100

Case in point: The OA public relations effort very cleverly pits this as a
battle of greedy publishers against sick and dying patients. Here's how Rick
Weiss of the Washington Post, feeding with abandon from the OA
media-messaging trough, put it last week:

->The OA movement is part of a much broader movement to adopt the way we
scientists communicate in a rapidly changing world, whereas books and
journals have been the main source of information to an ever sophisticated
digital world.

One could put it as a case of miss-applied copyright law; a copyright law
which has been developed to protect the income for a product which has to be
sold to pay off the costs of its creation. Science, in contrast, pays
upfront through grants to the scientists to produce the product, and the
quality is assessed by its citation. The publishers take this product,
package and distribute it, the latter costs dropping quickly to close to
zero. Nobody objects to the packaging (copyediting etc.) as long as the
product is as well openly accessible. Many of use most likely would continue
buy this packaged product for its touch and feel, as long as the content is
included in our rapidly growing knowledgesystem.

Entire fields likes physics have anticipated this enormous potential very
early on, and now these fields, especially those where traditionally
expensive instruments or datasets had to be shared within the respective
communities like particles physics, are adopting their way of communication
to open access to warrant the best possible flow of information.

The Berlin declaration is one important seed around which a fast
crystallization of open access mandates, requirements and necessary funding
and infrastructure at university and governmental level is taking place. The
recently launched petition to the EU for public access to publicly-funded
research results collecting 10,000 signatures within only 10 days is another
sign of a vibrant community adapting to new realities. The Conservation
Commons is another growing drive towards openly sharing environmental data.

OA is the most efficient way to fulfill part of the obligations of the many
international legally binding conventions such as the Convention on
Biological Diversity, to provide access to scientific information. It thus
is one element in fighting environmental crisis and building up the
prosperity of nations so far cut of from our (developed world) vast pool of

The OA movement is not one person nor is there one approach since most of
the legislation is done at national level. If the medical case is so
prominent then it is mainly due to the US taxpayers (not primarily
scientists) fighting for access to what they paid for. Following what is
happening at the US National Institute of Health, it seems that in this case
the taxpayer lobby is stronger than those of the medical publishers for
once. Though, this development at a prime scientific institution would not
be possible, if there would not be sound arguments for open access.

What Stevan is propagating in this listserver, selfarchiving, might most
likely be the cheapest and fastest first step in achieving the goal of
global access, leading to many emerging scientific fields building upon the
mining of the enormous amount of knowledge and data hidden in this vast body
of publications.

Received on Wed Jan 31 2007 - 10:38:59 GMT

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