Re: Physics World: The CERN Gold OA initiative

From: J.F.B.Rowland <J.F.Rowland_at_LBORO.AC.UK>
Date: Mon, 12 Mar 2007 11:15:08 -0000

Similar arguments to these of Paul Ayris's have been advanced by academic
librarians before. They are based on the assumption that Gold OA
payments would be charged to the library budget within institutions. The
librarians worry that the costs will be even greater than subscription
charges, and even less under their control. Re-reading my notes of
Robert Aymar's contribution at the recent Brussels Conference,I see no
suggestion oflibrary involvement- the proposed Sponsoring Consortium
for Open Access Publishing is made up of the major research laboratories
and research funders for high-energy physics, not of libraries.

Generalising from physics to academiaat large, a Gold OA funding regime
organised between major research funders and research universities would
not necessarily involve their libraries at all. I think perhaps this is
the reason why librarians - especially those in major research-intensive
universities - are unhappy at the prospect. Fortunately for them,I also
do not believe that the CERN model is generalisable.

Fytton Rowland, Loughborough University.
      ----- Original Message -----
From: Paul Ayris
Sent: Friday, March 09, 2007 6:45 AM
Subject: Physics World: The CERN Gold OA initiative


As Director of Library Services in a research-led University in the
United Kingdom, may I offer an observation from the perspective of
an active academic library? I agree with David that the move to
gold OA will depend on the subject area under discussion. In
particle physics, I take the point that the majority of research
publications are concentrated in a discrete number of journals. In
this context, it seems to me that a move to turning library journal
subscriptions into payments to an OA consortium for journal
publishing is a model worth considering. However, I agree with
Stevan that this is probably not a scaleable model, but I suggest
that at this time it is worth trying in discrete subject areas.

As a University Librarian, my concerns are these: once commercial
journal subscriptions are turned into a consortial payments for OA
publishing, I would have no more money to give to the consortium
should its costs increase. So the consortium will have to manage
its costs with great care in order for libraries to support them.
Otherwise, libraries are no better off than they were in the
commercial subscription environment, when we could be presented
with large increases in costs with no concomitant ability to meet
these costs.

My second concern over the Cern experiment is this. I am still
unclear what the responsibility is for libraries to meet publishing
costs in the new Cern model (turning journal subscriptions into a
payment to the new consortium to support OA journal publishing) and
the responsibilities of funding bodies to support new models. Until
subscription journals turn onto OA journals, libraries will STILL
have to pay the subscription costs for these journals. It is the
transition period which concerns me. Surely, funding bodies should
be asked to fund the transition. Then, when libraries can safely
convert journal subscription costs into a consortium payment for
gold OA publishing, libraries can make the requisite changes. It is
the researcher that libraries must support. And, until the model
has flipped from publishing in subscription journal to gold OA
journals, libraries will have to work in a hybrid environment where
both models co-exist.

Libraries need to support their academic researchers and to be
champions of change. They do the former very well. They can also do
the latter, but I suggest only when the model has changed. In the
transitional phase, there are two sets of costs: commercial
subscriptions and separate OA payments. What I am suggesting is
that it is only through partnership with funding bodies that
libraries can help move from a commercial subscription model to an
innovative OA publishing model envisaged by Cern. We are not there
yet, but we could be if the partnership works.

Best wishes,

Paul Ayris
Director of UCL Library Services and UCL Copyright Officer
UCL (University College London)

At 17:09 08/03/2007, David Prosser wrote:

I agree with most of what you^ve written, especially about the
urgency of mandates. Where I still disagree is with the idea that
we are losing focus by also exploring gold models. In the field
that CERN covers they have 100% (or almost) open access. I think
they should be free to now look at ways in which they can fund gold
OA. I do not believe that they are beholden to promote green OA in
other subject areas (over and above what they are already doing,
which is significant). Also, their model predicts that a funded
gold OA model in particle physics will be cheaper than the current
subscription model. (See
) So, for an investment now (the ^double payment^) a transition
could free-up funds for research.

You make the point that this model will probably not scale to all
journals. That^s true, but it doesn^t have to ^ all it has to
do is work for this community. The Science/Nature model (large
number of personal subscribers and significant advertising revenue
in addition to institutional subscribers) doesn^t scale to all
journals either, but it is a valid business model. Again, it is
not the responsibility of particle physics to develop a model for
all journals.

So, should CERN being doing more to promote green OA in other
subjects ^ I don^t think that we should expect them to do more
that they already do. Is the CERN gold experiment damaging to
research? Well, it might free-up funds and so benefit research.
Does the CERN experiment delay the day that we get 100% OA? I
really don^t think so, although we may disagree on that!

Best wishes


David C Prosser PhD
SPARC Europe

Tel: +44 (0) 1865 277 614
Mobile: +44 (0) 7974 673 888

Received on Mon Mar 12 2007 - 15:50:32 GMT

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