Re: Self-Archiving and Journal Subscriptions: Critique of PRC Study

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Tue, 15 May 2007 03:28:31 +0100

On Mon, 14 May 2007, Ian Russell wrote:

> Stevan, You have publicly acknowledged subscription cancellation
> is a probable outcome of self-archiving so why keep arguing?

I do indeed think it probable that mandate Green OA self-archiving will
eventually make subscriptions unsustainable as the means of recovering
publishing costs, and that then journals will convert to Gold OA.

The PRC provided no evidence, one way or the other. And Green
OA should be mandated, one way or the other.

So which argument are you referring to?

> It may be that producer pays publishing is a viable option in
> some fields now, and that it may be for others in the future.

We seem to agree on that too.

> In maths, ecology, history etc, etc, etc the
> proportion of the current research funding needed to cover
> dissemination costs will be much greater
> So what then? (this is a rhetorical question)

This is a literal answer: If and when mandate Green OA self-archiving
causes subscriptions to become unsustainable, journals will convert
to Gold OA publishing and their costs will be paid out of the
institutional subscription cancellation savings, not out of
extra research funding.

> If producer pays publishing is the end game, and self archiving a
> means to that end (as your post would suggest),

No, 100% OA is the end, and self-archiving is the means to that end.
(Conversion to Gold OA publishing may or may not eventually follow,
but that is not the objective of self-archiving: OA is.)

> then why not spend your time arguing for money to clearly
> and unambiguously made available for producer pays publishing

Because my interest is OA, not conversion to Gold OA publishing,
and because Gold OA publishing does not require extra money, but
merely the redirection of (some of) the savings from subscription
cancellations toward paying for Gold OA. Till subscriptions are
unsustainably cancelled however, there is no need to convert, or to

> rather than frittered away on a system of institutional repositories
> which are probably not an efficient way of organizing and, by your own
> argument, certainly will have no long-term value (given that they won't
> be needed in a fully producer pays world).

(1) Why on earth is a publisher worrying about each university spending
about $2000 plus a few days of one-time sysad start-up time and a
a few days a year maintenance time on creating and maintaining an IR
to increase the visibility, usage and impact of all of its its own
annual research output?

(2) Where on earth did the idea come from that increasing the visibility,
usage and impact of its own annual research output has no long-term
value for a university?

(3) And who on earth said that IRs won't be needed if/when all
journals convert to Gold? (It is the possibility of offloading all
text-production, archiving and access-provision onto the network of
authors IRs that ensures that the costs of Gold OA publishing will be
much lower than the current asking price, and the current amount spent
on subscriptions: It will be the cost of implementing peer review alone.)

Stevan Harnad

> > -----Original Message-----
> > Stevan Harnad wrote:
> >
> > On Thu, 10 May 2007, Ian Russell, Chief Executive, ALPSP, wrote:
> >
> >> ...there is now a body of evidence* * for example ALPSP Survey
> >> of Librarians on Factors in Journal Cancellation (Mark Ware,
> >> 2006) and 'Self-archiving and subscriptions: Co-existence or
> >> competition' (Chris Beckett and Simon Inger, 2006) to suggest
> >> that if the final, peer-reviewed publisher version of the
> >> article is available for free on institutional or subject
> >> repositories subscriptions will decline and the journals will
> >> go out of business. This is an intuitive result: what
> >> responsible librarian would spend precious money on something
> >> that is freely available?
> >
> > (1) If/when mandated Green OA self-archiving ever makes
> > subscriptions unsustainable, journals will switch to Gold OA
> > publishing (which is another desirable outcome, over and above
> > 100% Green OA, though not nearly as urgent):
> >
> >
> > 9we152.htm
> >
> > (2) The PRC Study that Ian Russell cites is methodologically
> > flawed, and does not show anything at all.
> >
> > "Self-Archiving and Journal Subscriptions: Critique of PRC Study"
> >
> >
> >> You may not be bothered that journals go out of business.
> >> Fair enough but then who administers and manages peer review,
> >> and corrects the references, and does the reference linking,
> >> and the other things that authors and readers expect and value?
> >
> > Converting to Gold OA publishing is not going out of business, it
> > is simply keeping up with technology, and with what is optimal
> > for research productivity and progress.
> >
> > Stevan Harnad
Received on Tue May 15 2007 - 03:58:08 BST

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