Re: Serials wars or OA?

From: Fytton Rowland <J.F.Rowland_at_LBORO.AC.UK>
Date: Wed, 18 Apr 2007 15:03:26 +0100

At the UK Serials Group conference, which has just ended, there was a
session this morning with Stephen Pinfield of Nottingham University, an OA
and institutional repositories advocate, and Sally Morris, recently retired
Chief Executive of ALPSP, both speaking. Many of us expected a ding-dong
battle. It didn't materialize. There were significant areas of agreement,
and both felt that to avoid risks of harm to the scholarly communication
system there needed to be genuine discussion and negotiation between the
publisher and library communities. (Memories of Ian Paisley shaking hands
with Gerry Adams came into my head!) I think we may at last be reaching a
point where the mutual recriminations and points-scoring end, and serious
discussions begin.

Fytton Rowland, Loughborough University.

Quoting Steve Hitchcock <sh94r_at_ECS.SOTON.AC.UK>:

> How will the library journal pricing 'crisis' end? When put like this
> it seems that this longstanding problem has no end because there is
> no problem-solution objective. At least, I haven't seen it articulated.
> I'm not a librarian, but I do have an interest. In a new article
> described by Peter Suber as "an excellent picture of where OA stands
> today", Van Orsdel and Born (Serial Wars, Library Journal, April 15,
> 2007 criticise
> publisher responses to open access while linking the library-journal
> pricing problem to access:
> "Libraries want relief from journal prices that are patently
> outrageous and defy cost-benefit justification. Authors want impact,
> and OA articles get cited much more often. Scientists want faster and
> easier access to others' research, but a recent paper, "UK Scholarly
> Journals: 2006 Baseline Report," found that half of all researchers
> in Britain have problems securing access to needed articles."
> Further on they are more specific, linking the possible solution to
> open access:
> "Librarians aren't waiting to see what kind of price relief the OA
> movement might bring. They are beginning to ask hard questions about
> the relationship between the value of a journal and its price. In
> January, University of California (UC) Libraries disseminated a pilot
> study on value-based journal pricing.
> "UC will push for more than a conversation. The stated goal of the
> study is actively to influence the journal pricing market.
> "The UC study underscores the message to heavy-hitting publishers
> that intransigent pricing policies are driving customers to seek
> pricing relief one way or another. Either the current system flexes
> to address concerns over price and access, or a new system will take
> its place."
> What system and threat is being implied here? I hope they are not
> using OA simply as a bargaining chip over this issue. OA is a higher
> principle than this.
> OA advocates and researchers have always been careful and reluctant
> to link OA with the library pricing problem. OA has a very clear
> objective, while this pricing problem does not. Modified prices might
> improve access, but this is not open access.
> There are obvious connections and shared interests between OA and the
> library community. Most IRs are managed by libraries (Brown, S. and
> Swan, A. I have also
> argued in the ongoing debate over green vs gold OA that the issue is
> not whether there will be full OA but over the form of the transition
> I believe there is great advantage in OA, especially IR-based
> self-archiving, and I don't accept the apocalyptic claims of some in
> the journals industry. In the latter respect the transition, if the
> academic community is wise, will bring moderation.
> I also recognise that if it is to be most beneficial this shared
> interest between libraries and OA needs to be better defined, That
> might depend on the library community resolving a clearer strategy to
> deal with the pricing issue. My suggestion would be that it clearly
> prioritises OA over other issues. OA is not there to be sold out to
> the lowest bidder.
> Steve Hitchcock
> IAM Group, School of Electronics and Computer Science
> University of Southampton, SO17 1BJ, UK
> Email:
> Tel: +44 (0)23 8059 7698 Fax: +44 (0)23 8059 2865
Received on Wed Apr 18 2007 - 16:04:22 BST

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