Re: Institutional Mandates and Institutional OA Repository Growth

From: Sandy Thatcher <>
Date: Fri, 21 Sep 2007 19:06:16 EDT

You make it all sound so simple, Stevan, but there is nothing simple about a
transition from Green OA to Gold OA, including the redirection of savings
from journal subscriptions to funding Gold OA journals, because as many wise
people like Jim O'Donnell have pointed out on this list, universities don't
work that way. Wishing it were so does not make it so. And by talking about
peer review only, you oversimplify what is involved in journal publishing,
which requires skills that go beyond simply conducting peer review and that
are not most economically carried out by faculty, who are not trained for
such tasks and whose dedication of time to them detracts from the exercise
of their main talents as researchers. You are also wrong in interpreting
PRISM as just another repetition of the same old tired anti-OA rhetoric. As
a member of the publishing community whose press is a member of the PSP (but
not an endorser of PRISM), I can tell you that this is not just more of the
same. Whether we are getting close to a "tipping point" is of course a
matter of conjecture, but then so is the overall benefit from Green OA,
which you always state as though it were an established fact rather than a
hypothesis with some evidence in support of it yet hardly overwhelming
evidence at this point in time.

Sandy Thatcher
Penn State University Press

> On Wed, 19 Sep 2007, Sandy Thatcher wrote:
> > Ah, yes, and if you'll remember our prior discussion about open
> > access, Stevan, I warned that just this "success" might be the
> > "tipping point" to drive a host of commercial and society
> > publishers out of the business of journal publishing. One "tipping
> > point" causes another? Witness, as partial proof, the reaction of
> > STM publishers represented by the PRISM initiative. I read that as
> > a warning that, if the government forces a change in their business
> > model, they may just walk away from the business. I assume you
> > wouldn't consider that a bad thing at all, but my question would be
> > what kind of structure will take its place and what expectations
> > will universities have of their presses to pick up the slack?
> What is remarkable, Sandy, is how actual empirical facts (very few)
> are being freely admixed, willy-nilly, with fact-free speculations
> for which there is, and continues to be zero empirical evidence,
> and, in many cases, decisive and familiar counterevidence, both
> empirical and logical.
> Nothing has changed since our prior discussions except that there
> have (happily) been some more Green OA mandates (total adopted: 32,
> plus 8 more further proposed mandates).
> There has been no "tipping point." Just *talk* about tipping points,
> and that talk about tipping points has been going on for years.
> There has been no one driven out of business, nor any empirical
> evidence of a trend toward being driven out of business. Just *talk*
> of being driven out of business, and that talk about being driven
> out of business has been going on for years.
> And as to the "partial proof" in the form of the STM/PRISM
> "reaction" -- that very same reaction (with the very same false,
> alarmist arguments) has been voiced, verbatim, by the very same
> publisher groups (STM, AAP, ALPSP), over and over, for over a decade
> now. And they have been debunked just as often (see long list of
> links below). But that certainly hasn't been enough to make the
> publishers' anti-OA lobby cease and desist. Do you consider the
> relentless repetition, at louder and louder volume, of exactly the
> same specious and evidence-free claims, to be "proof" of anything,
> partial or otherwise?
> And the phrase "the government forces a change in their business
> model" is just as false a description of what is actually going on
> when it is spoken in your own well-meaning words as when it is
> voiced by PRISM and Eric Dezenhall: The government is *not* forcing
> a change in a business model. The funders of tax-payer-funded
> research -- and, increasingly, universities, who are not "the
> government" at all! -- are insisting that the researchers they fund
> and employ make their peer-reviewed research freely available to all
> would-be users online, in line with the purpose of conducting and
> funding and publishing research in the first place.
> This quite natural (and overdue) adaptation to the online age on the
> part of the research community -- Green OA -- may or may not lead to
> a transition to Gold OA publishing: no one knows whether, or when it
> will. But what is already known is that OA itself, whether Green or
> Gold, is enormously beneficial to research, researchers, their
> institutions and funders, the vast R&D industry, and the tax-paying
> public that funds research and for whose benefit it is funded,
> conducted and published. (OA is also a secondary benefit to
> education and the developing world.)
> So the "tipping point" for Green OA itself is an unalloyed benefit
> for everyone but the peer-reviewed journal publishing industry,
> whether or not it leads to a second tipping point and a transition
> to Gold OA.
> Reality today, to repeat, is a growth in Green OA mandates, not a
> tipping point (let alone two), not a subscription decline, not
> publishers going out of business, not government pressure toward
> another publishing model.
> You ask "what kind of structure will take its place and what
> expectations will universities have of their presses to pick up the
> slack?" I presume you are referring to the multiple hypothetical
> conditional: *if* Green OA mandates reach the tipping point that
> generates 100% Green OA, and *if* that in turn generates journal
> cancellations that reach the tipping point that generates a
> transition to Gold OA? The answer (which I have provided many times
> before) is simple: The "structure" will be Gold OA, funded out of (a
> part of) the institutional cancellation savings.
> 9we152.htm
> And this is not about publishing in general, commercial, society,
> university, or otherwise. It is only about peer-reviewed journal
> publishing, and their hypothetical transition to Gold OA under
> cancellation pressure from mandated Green OA.
> Stevan Harnad
Received on Sat Sep 22 2007 - 01:13:09 BST

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.0 : Fri Dec 10 2010 - 19:49:03 GMT