Pitting Petitions Against Pit-Bulls: Sense Versus Sensationalism

From: (wrong string) édon <jean.claude.guedon_at_umontreal.ca>
Date: Sat, 10 Feb 2007 20:35:27 -0500

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While fully agreeing with Rune Nilsen, I would add - but this is an old
debate between Stevan and myself - that the products of research do not
concern only researchers. I know medical practitioners that need the
recent literature to make choices in difficult situations and cannot have
it unless someone gives them access to it. I also heard about commercial
labs that do provide some limited access (which, strictly speaking,
breaks the terms of their licences with publsihers) ... against some kind
words for their products , or even against using these same products...
This kind of bartering is not very nice, to say the least, but that is
also what happens when access is not open to medical practitioners.

In the social sciences and the humanities, the case is quite clear and
this represents a large fraction of the research communities in countries
like Canada (more than 50% in fact). Anyone who has read Gibbons' The New
Production of Scientific Knowledge by Michael Gibbons et alii knows that
(see chapter 4). In the medical sciences, this is also true; in all of
engineering this is again true. In much of chemistry, givent its close
ties to industry, again this is true. In most disciplines (if not all, in
fact, if we think about the needs of education) research results concern
far more than researchers.

Moreover, in the developing world, i.e. 80% of humanity more or less, it
also includes researchers or would be researchers that cannot manage to
begin working serious because they lack access to the literature.

These are points that have been made repeatedly on this list and others,
but to no avail as far as Stevan is concerned. No matter: we can support
him on his limited quest to improve the situation of researchers in rich
countries and in rich institutions; but we shall also support and defend
all those that need the results of research, not only to do further
research, but also to act and take decisions in a more informed manner.
If he wants to limit himself to the elite sub-group, so be it!

This is a no-brainer in my opinion, but, for some odd reason, we keep
returning again and again to this question, and only because of one or
two individuals... I even bet we are going to be subjected to the same
old collection of tirades and URL's we have been periodically facing for
the last three or four years. Yet, taking into account the complete
audience of research results does not endanger the Open Access movement,
quite the contrary.

Oh well...

Jean-Claude Guédon

Le samedi 10 février 2007 à 20:33 +0100, Rune Nilsen a écrit :
      Stevan Harnads  5 messages are very important and well  well
      pointed, except  for no 5, Developing countries.

      I  strongly support  Jan Veltrops comment to this point.


      The needs for  scientific literature  to  researchers and
      others in developing countries  are very important, not at
      least  in a global perpective  of research challenges. 

      1. In health this is clearly stated by WHO and others what is
      called  the  90/10 dilemma: ("only about 10% of funding is
      targeted to the diseases which account for 90%  of the global
      disease burden.") also addressing the fact that  to solve 
      the most important global health problems,  researchers and
      universities in the developing part of the world have to be 
      partners, and and  active users of international research
      publications. The NIH  and PLoS contribution to this agenda
      setting  has been good.

      2. This 90/10  problem, however, is valid also in all other
      fields of research (technology,  biodiversity,  social
      science and so on).

      3. If the international research community do not  take the
      consequences of this global reality, which includes  the
      publication strategy,  we are  supporting  the present
      ACADEMIC APARTEID.  Availability of research publications as
      OPEN ACESS, as a global public good is the most important 
      tool  to   address and solve  the important  global and
      poverty related  issues.. 

      5. Mandatory  self archiving is the most important tool for 
      this goal,  --also for the "book writing" researchers.


      I am  professor in International health, University of
      Bergen, Norway, and has worked in this field  since  last 30

      Presently I am  leader of a research programme Nile Basin
      Research programme (for all the 10 Nile countries)

      In all the institutions we are working with, the most
      fundamental problem is lack of access to   research


      Stevan,  this is a big and fundamental global problem.

      I am also  member of the Working group of Open Access in the
      EUA, European University Association,  I am happy to say that
      it is a rapidly  increaseing awareness in this field in
      Europe now.


      Best regards

      Rune Nilsen

      Professor Rune Nilsen
      Professor International Health
      Director Nile Basin Research Programme (NBRP)
      University of Bergen
      POB 7800, 5020 Bergen
      Teleph: +4741479217



            From: American Scientist Open Access Forum
            On Behalf Of Velterop, Jan, Springer UK
            Sent: Saturday, February 10, 2007 3:58 PM
            Subject: Re: Sense Versus Sensationalism: Pitting
            Petitions Against Pit-Bulls

            (1) The "open access movement" is not the "open
            access journal movement", but that doesn't mean
            there isn't something that can be described as an
            "open access journal movement" among publishers
            and editors (a growing number of sensible ones
            offering 'Gold' open access);

            (2) At least one of the two 'Gold' publishing
            organisations (BMC) came *before* the BOAI and
            both BMC and PLoS were constituents of the BOAI
            (PLoS was not yet a publisher, but an open access
            advocacy group before the BOAI and arguably
            started the whole movement off);

            (3) The need for access to medical literature and
            in developing countries is not "just" a small
            portion of the need for OA, but an important
            portion, especially given the fact that a very
            high proportion of scientific research is
            medical, relevant to the entire world population
            (not just scientists and medics) and
            intellectually accessible to a rather wide range
            of well-educated people (again, not just
            scientists and medics), and a very low proportion
            of any research reaches developing countries;

            Jan Velterop

            -----Original Message-----
            From: American Scientist Open Access Forum on
            behalf of Stevan Harnad
            Sent: Sat 2/10/2007 1:39 PM
            Subject: Sense Versus Sensationalism: Pitting
            Petitions Against Pit-Bulls

                Sense Versus Sensationalism: Pitting
            Petitions Against Pit-Bulls

                A CRITIQUE OF: Goldacre, Ben (2007) Open
            access and the price of
                knowledge. "Badscience.net" The Guardian,
            Saturday February 10, 2007

                        like moths and drunks,
                        seem attracted,
                        where the light
                        shines, not
                        where the key lies"

            (1) The Open Access movement is not the "Open
            Access Journal movement."
            Converting non-OA journals to OA journals is only
            one of the two ways to
            make articles OA ("Gold OA"), and the slower,
            more resistant way. The
            faster, surer way is to convert authors to
            depositing their own articles
            (published in non-OA journals) on the web to make
            them OA ("Green OA").

            It is Green OA that can and will be required by
            researchers' funding
            councils and employers (universities). The
            research community has just
            signed a petition in support of the European
            Community's proposal to
            mandate Green OA (20,000 individuals, 1000

            Similar movements are afoot in the US:

            (2) It is not "two [Gold] OA publishing
            organisations" that have led the
            fight for (Gold) OA, but one (Green and Gold)
            organisation, the one that
            first coined the term OA in 2002: The Budapest
            Open Access Initiative:

            (3) The need for access to "medical literature",
            and in "developing
            countries" is just a small portion of the need
            for OA, which concerns
            all forms of research, and researchers all over
            the world.

            (4) The primary need for OA is to make research
            (most of it specialised
            and technical) freely available not only to
            "part-time tinkering
            thinkers, journalists and the public" but to the
            researchers worldwide
            for whom it was written and who can use and apply
            it to the benefit of
            the public that paid for it.

            (5) To demonize non-OA publisher Reed-Elsevier as
            the "sponsor of the
            DSEI international arms fair [that] needs police,
            security, wire fences,
            and the pitbull of PR [Dezenhall] to defend it"
            is to sink into the very
            same pit-bull tactics.  Reed-Elsevier journals
            are Green on OA: It is
            research funders and universities that now need
            to mandate Green OA:

            Journalists and tinkerers should think more
            carefully before opining
            about OA: Good science needs more sense, not more

            Stevan Harnad
            American Scientist Open Access Forum
Received on Sun Feb 11 2007 - 03:49:53 GMT

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