Re: Jan Velterop's Misconception

From: Andrew A. Adams <A.A.Adams_at_READING.AC.UK>
Date: Thu, 1 Mar 2007 14:46:00 +0900

Arthur Smith wrote:
>Not that I've been keeping up, but I thought the question under
>discussion was whether authors should be *forced* to make their writings
>OA (through self-archiving). If force is required, it's not clear they
>"are interested" at all. And conversely, there are quite a number of
>fee/royalty-based writings that have also been posted for free on the
>web (many of our RMP review articles, for which we usually pay authors
>an honorarium/royalty, are also posted on the arxiv for instance). Some
>people want their writings available free on the web, some don't (or
>just don't care). The question seems to be quite orthogonal to whether
>the authors receive money or not.

Arthur, the research on this point is clear. Most scientists believe that OA
to articles serves their interest. They are more than happy for their own
work to be available to others and equally as happy to have access to the
work of other that they need.

However, the time of scientists is a very valuable resource. There is, first,
the misunderstanding of the amount of effort self-archiving takes (it takes
less than people believe, particularly since after the first effort to set up
one's username and get used to the system each new article takes less time
than the first one or the first few). Secondly, there is a classic prisoner's
dillema aspect to this. Almost all scholars believe that access to everyone's
work is in everyone's interests. However, one already has access to one's own
work (otherwise it could not be self-archived). Thus, the act of putting
one's own work up benefits others directly (they get access to the references
they need to read) and only indirectly benefits oneself (through, hopefully
higher readership and citation rates). If I spend the time to perform
self-archiving and my colleague down the corridor doesn't, then he has more
time to spend doing the actual research and may, in the short term, advance
beyond me in the local hierarchy. However, if everyone was required to
self-archive their work, then there would be no local relative gain, and even
no relative global gain since if all institutions are self-archiving, then
everyone must spend the time to do this.

There are other time pressures on scientists, such as the vast amount of
bureaucracy out funders, governments and institutions insist we perform. As
it is mandated, this work has a high priority for the scientists. Adding in a
self-archiving mandate to this allows us to claim, when pressed for time,
that the self-archiving work, is just as important as the other bureaucracy
and at the margins it is therefore more likely to get done.

This assumes that mandates at the institutional level are the point. In my
experience, in trying to get an archive set up in my School and University,
another important thing is for funders to mandate self-archiving. This forces
the institution to create the archive and allows advocacy of the OA benefits
to work within an institution for self-archiving of all papers, not just the
ones with a funder-mandate) as well as justifying the cost of setting up the

*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 Thu Mar 01 2007 - 11:34:55 GMT

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