Barbara Kirsop, EPT, on Access: Gray, Gold and Green

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Mon, 19 Feb 2007 12:20:04 +0000

The following letters were published on February 17th 2007 in the
Guardian Newspaper and Barbara Kirsop posted the reply (last of
three, below, to the paper on February 18th.

Letter from Michael Mabe CEO, International Association of STM Publishers,,2015050,00.html

    Ben GOLDACRE (Bad Science, February 10) says 'access to medical
    literature in developing countries' is difficult - a claim repeated
    in Guardian education (February 13th). In fact, since 2002, via
    the Hinari programme, over 3,600 key medical journals have been
    made available for researchers, clinicians and students in 114
    developing countries by 100 international publishers working through
    the World Health Organisation; access is entirely free for most of
    these countries.

    Since 2003, through the UN Food and Agriculture Organisations' Agora
    Programme, and to the same 114 countries, 36 publishers provide free
    or nominally priced access to over 900 agriculture journals. From
    2006, through the OARE programme, researchers in the environmental
    and related sciences now have access to 1,800 journals from 34
    publishers. These initiatives do not solve all the problems; there
    are still major infrastructure and technology challenges. However,
    it is inaccurate and unfair to imply that science-journal publishers
    have ignored providing access to those developing countries that
    need it most.

Letter from Jan Velterop Director of open access, Springer,,2015050,00.html

    While there undoubtedly are publishers which are against open access
    to research results, there are those who embrace open access and offer
    researchers the possibility to publish with open access. Springer,
    the second largest academic publisher in the world, offers open
    access, as an author's choice, in all of its journals.

Letter from Barbara Kirsop, posted to the Guardian February 18th

    Your correspondents on Open Access to academic journals made
    three omissions. Michael Mabe neglected to mention that the
    UN/commercial publisher programmes are not available to countries
    where collaborating publishers have sales (eg India, Brazil). These
    programmes are donations and useful as sticking plaster, but can
    never solve the underlying problem of information-starvation affecting
    scientists in the developing world.

    Your second correspondent, Jan Velterop, neglected to mention that
    whereas authors may indeed choose to have open access to their papers
    in some journals, this is only at a cost of between $1000 to $3000/per
    paper (some publishers may waive this charge if authors are able to
    prove inability to pay). Neither mentioned the alternative means to
    obtaining open access to essential research findings by the author's
    deposit of accepted papers in their Institutional Repositories
    (open access, globally interoperable and searchable).

    Fortunately, this readily achieved solution to the problem
    is increasingly recognised (and even becoming mandated by some
    funding organisations), as evidenced by the 21,420 signatories (as
    of today) to the petition for guaranteed access to publicly-funded
    research findings, including endorsement by over 1000 major research

    Enlightened publishers cooperating with this solution (perhaps with
    an embargo period of a few months) will be rewarded when authors
    vote with their feet by choosing to publish in journals that believe
    in the widest possible distribution of research knowledge. Without
    sharing research information we will for ever delay solutions to
    the planet's problems.
Received on Mon Feb 19 2007 - 12:28:59 GMT

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