Re: Stevan Harnad's misconception 7

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Wed, 28 Feb 2007 20:32:06 +0000

On Wed, 28 Feb 2007, Velterop, Jan, Springer UK wrote:

> Misconception: The notion that OA publishing takes away from scarce
> research funds.
> I'm tempted to start believing in one of the religions of the physics
> domain, parallel universes. Stevan seems to live in the universe where
> OA publishing - 'gold' - costs money and subscriptions don't.

Jan, you are systematically avoiding a simple piece of arithmetic:

Of course publishing costs money. But it is *subscription money* that
is paying for publishing today: i.e., non-OA publishing.

So until and unless subscription money is *no longer* paying for
non-OA publishing (as it is now), and can be redirected to paying for OA
publishing (Gold OA), *there is no payment issue* in connection with OA
self-archiving mandates (Green OA):

The publications that are being self-archived today have been *paid for*.
This remains true until and unless OA self-archiving ever actually does cause
cancellations and makes subscriptions unsustainable. Till then, it's Green OA and
nothing more to pay.

    Berners-Lee, T., De Roure, D., Harnad, S. and Shadbolt, N. (2005)
    Journal publishing and author self-archiving: Peaceful Co-Existence
    and Fruitful Collaboration.

Hence if research funds are redirected today toward paying for Gold OA publishing,
they are depriving researchers of scarce research funds *for no reason at all*,
because they can have 100% OA simply by self-archiving.

(This is all without even saying anything about the Gold OA's asking
price and about downsizing to the essentials: Both what the publishers
do today, and the asking price for it, are inflated by the fact that
publishers still have to generate, provide, distribute, provide-access
to, and archive the paper and PDF editions. Once all that is gone, and
both access-provision and archiving can be offloaded onto the worldwide
network of OA Institutional Repositories, publishing can and will downsize
to peer review service-provision alone, at a much-reduced asking price.)

Stevan Harnad

> In the universe where I live, formal publishing in peer-reviewed
> journals costs money. In rare cases, and very small journals, this cost
> may be hidden. But there are costs nonetheless. The costs are not all
> that different for OA journals or subscription journals. In that
> universe, research budget allocations and research grants typically
> include earmarked overhead charges. These overhead charges are taken by
> the research institution to pay for all manner of infrastructural costs,
> including the library budget. From which subscriptions are paid.
> Formal publication is part and parcel of research, and thus the cost of
> publication is part and parcel of the cost of research. Any kind of
> formal publishing 'eats away' a portion of scarce research funds. But
> unpublished research is pretty much regarded as research not done, so
> money on publication is generally well-spent.
> Compare:
> -OA publishing, with an aggregate cost to the scientific establishment
> of X per article published (total per article: X);
> -OA via self-archiving of non-OA articles, with an aggregate cost to the
> scientific establishment of all the subscriptions taken (necessary in a
> self-archiving model), amounting to X per article published, plus the
> aggregate cost of thousands of institutional repositories and the
> staffing to keep them going, amounting to Y per article (total per
> article: X+Y).
> Which is the greatest drain on scarce research funds?
> Jan Velterop
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: SPARC Open Access Forum []
> > On Behalf Of Stevan Harnad
> > Sent: 28 February 2007 04:09
> > To: SPARC Open Access Forum
> > Subject: [SOAF] Reply to Jan Velterop, and a Challenge to
> > "OA" Publishers Who Oppose Mandating OA via Self-Archiving
> >
> > ** Cross-Posted **
> >
> [cut]
> >
> >
> > And the objection isn't primarily to the redirection of
> > scarce research funds to pay for needless Gold OA costs. If
> > the research community is foolish enough to want to do that,
> > it is welcome to do so. The objection is to any further delay
> > in mandating Green OA, wasting still more time instead on
> > continued bickering about paying pre-emptive Gold publishing
> > fees. Let research funders and institutions mandate OA Green
> > self-archiving, now, thereby guaranteeing 100% OA, now, and
> > *then* let them spend their spare time and money in any way
> > they see fit.
> >
> [cut]
> > Gold OA now, when Gold OA is neither needed, nor are the
> > funds available for paying for it (without poaching them from
> > research) because the funds to pay for publishing are still
> > paying for subscriptions.
> >
> > Caveat pre-emptor.
> >
> > Stevan Harnad
Received on Wed Feb 28 2007 - 20:52:22 GMT

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