RE: The Value of OA

From: Alma Swan <>
Date: Sat, 7 Apr 2007 08:47:51 EDT

Joe Esposito wrote:

> There is a fundamental misunderstanding of how the Internet
> works in this post. OA is contrasted with hardcopy and Web 1.0
> applications. Everything that is listed here for OA can be done
> (and done better) with proprietary services.

There is no misunderstanding, fundamental or otherwise. OA is
contrasted with CA (closed access) on the Web (I must confess I
hadn't given much thought to print: a rather quaint concept in
the context of obtaining scientific information). Authors cannot
cite articles they don't know about, they certainly cannot cite
early any articles they don't know about, semantic technologies
cannot get at closed access articles to work on them, proprietory
services do not construct one research space, and researchers
whose work requires them to reach out into other fields cannot
find articles that are not in their library (and the concept of
'new fields' frequently means that their library does not provide
the materials they need). Indeed, this whole area of servicing
the demands of collaborative and pooled research is a major issue
that research libraries are now having to start facing up to (as
will be clear from the report to be published next week by RIN).

Alma Swan
Key Perspectives Ltd
Truro, UK

> On 4/4/07, Alma Swan <> wrote:
>> Peter Banks wrote:
>> However, like most commentators, Anderson takes the value of
>> OA as a given: "There is no question that OA offers
>> potentially significant benefits to society. All other things
>> being equal, free public access to scientific information is
>> clearly a good thing." I think that this common assumption
>> merits a far more critical examination than it has received.
>> But even if democratic communications probably won't save
>> mankind for its worst tendencies, can access to scientific
>> information accelerate research
>> Yes, it can. Open access is essential for the optimal progress
>> of research for the following reasons:
>> 1. It increases the visibility of research output and hence
>> its usage
>> 2. It speeds up the research cycle
>> 3. It enables semantic computer technologies to do two things:
>> i) create one research space from which new information can be
>> derived
>> ii) track, monitor, and measure citation and other patterns,
>> thus enabling better understanding of scientific developments
>> and better predictive methodologies (highly desirable for
>> managers and funders of research)
>> 4. It is a critical enabler of
>> interdisciplinary/multidisciplinary research
>> All these things are discussed at more length in an invited
>> essay ("Open access and the Progress of Science"), including
>> supporting data, in the next issue (May/June) of American
>> Scientist, out soon on a bookstall near you.
>> In talking with researchers at major research institutions, I
>> have yet to meet a single one who felt that access to
>> information was a limiting factor in research.
>> John Houghton has already provided references to the empirical
>> studies of others that appear to contradict this. In our own
>> work, too, we have found that every time we ask researchers
>> about this we get a completely different answer to the one you
>> hear. And they are still saying it. Dozens of them, from all
>> disciplines, sat around the table in focus group sessions I
>> ran through last autumn and told of their difficulties in
>> getting hold of articles they wanted (and these were just the
>> articles they know about).
>> Many simply give up the chase - with untold repercussions for
>> research progress, of course. These were people from some of
>> the best-resourced research universities in the UK, places
>> that could by no stretch of the imagination be described as
>> 'less-connected'. The report of that study will be published
>> in the next week or so by the Research Information Network
>> (and will be open access).
>> The study of how information changes research, practice, and
>> understanding is too important to remain unexamined or to
>> remain the untested given of the open access movement.
>> Indeed. And those who examine it (empirically) and test it
>> (empirically) draw the conclusion that open access will be a
>> great driver in the advancement of scholarship.
>> Alma Swan
>> Key Perspectives Ltd
>> Truro, UK
Received on Sat Apr 07 2007 - 16:22:41 BST

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.0 : Fri Dec 10 2010 - 19:48:52 GMT