Starting a community response to ALPSP/PSP?

From: Leslie Carr <lac_at_ecs.soton.ac.uk>
Date: Sat, 12 May 2007 15:18:03 +0100

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In my previous posting I criticised the PSP/ALPSP white paper for
setting the appropriate balance for journal publishing too far
against the needs of the researchers. Given that journal publishing
is a partnership between academics/researchers and publishing
companies, I would like to recognise the value of the services
provided by both parties and for the balance of rights to better
reflect the roles in that partnership.

Taking the PSP/ALPSP document at face value - as a white paper laying
out the preferred position of some members of the publishing industry
- I would like to suggest that we respond by producing a counter-
proposal.

Point 1:
> ^ Academic research authors and their institutions should be able
> to use
> and post the content that such authors and institutions themselves
> provide
This is in accordance with Open Access and needs no change
> (as noted above, most publishers already provide for this)
something that we tell our authors in the advocacy process - it needs
no change
> for internal institutional non-commercial research and education
> purposes; and
My contention here is "internal institutional". We wish to share our
materials with our peers irrespective of their location - and 99.9%
of my peers are not at my institution. In fact, it is probably quite
pointless to share my work with the 0.1% of my colleagues in the same
institution - if they are interested in my work they are probably co-
authors!

Point 2:
> ^ Publishers should be able to determine when and how the official
> publication record occurs,
I am not completely sure what this means - I have Googled for
"official publication record" and apart from the white paper I can
only find 4 other uses of the phrase. Assuming that this means
"publishing companies are the master authorities in determining the
official date and details of each published item" then this is
uncontroversial.

> and to derive the revenue benefit from the publication and open
> posting of the official record (the final published article), and
> its further distribution and access
Completely happy here - publishers make money from the "final
published article" - in whatever manner they see fit.

> in recognition of the value of the services they provide.
"in recognition of" sounds like some kind of reward to be endowed out
of gratitude. I prefer "in accordance with" which makes plain that
"value out" is not an arbitrary quantity but that it is based on
"value in".

It is worthy of note that the PSP/ALPSP statement (point 1) is based
on the principle that authors/institutions control the information
that they create, with one enormous (harmful) exception. Take away
the exception and it is the basis of a fair recognition of rights -
what you create, you control. Turn it on its head and we could say
that publishers get to control the information (or the expression)
that they create. If a hypothetical publisher were to take camera
ready copy from the author and not provide any editorial assistance
or artwork improvement then it would not seem appropriate for the
publisher to gain any commercial benefit at all. Contrariwise, if the
publisher were to actually come into the lab, do the research and
ghost-write the paper then it would be unfair for the author to gain
any academic benefit!

Where the PSP/ALPSP proposal departs from fairness is that it makes
an exception based on publisher profitability. Not a small exception
based on historical evidence of commercial realities, but a 99.9%
exception based on untested worries about potential economic outcomes.

So, in summary, here is my proposal for researcher response to PSP/ALPSP
> Our view is that the appropriate balancing of rights for academic
> journal publishing
> should be on these general terms:
> ^ Academic research authors and their institutions should be able
> to use
> and post the content that such authors and institutions themselves
> provide
> (as noted above, most publishers already provide for this)
> for non-commercial research and education purposes; and
> ^ Publishers should be able to determine when and how the official
> publication
> record occurs, and to derive the revenue benefit from the
> publication and open
> posting of the official record (the final published article), and
> its further
> distribution and access in accordance with the value of the
> services they provide.

There. Two words deleted (internal institutional) and two words
changed (recognition of / accordance with). Not that much
disagreement at all!!!

Research journal publishing is a service industry to the research
industry. Researchers are the producers of the raw material, the
manufacturers, quality arbiters and ultimate consumers of the
published products. On days when publishers seem to threaten the
things that we wish to do with our research outputs it is tempting to
imagine that we should pick up our things and go and play elsewhere.
Let's hope that informed compromise, diplomacy and negotiation are
still the best course to steer between the status quo and the modern
world.
---
Les Carr
Received on Sat May 12 2007 - 20:38:20 BST

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