On OA, Coercion and Just Getting Over Ourselves

From: Leslie Carr <lac_at_ecs.soton.ac.uk>
Date: Sun, 27 Jan 2008 15:37:57 +0000

On 27 Jan 2008, at 14:40, Stevan Harnad wrote:

> > I would simply underscore that the number
> > of authors who currently *do* want OA for their articles is low
> > enough
> > that Harnad and others recommend they be coerced to achieve the goal.
> (1) "Coerced" is a rather shrill term! (Is every rule that is in
> the public interest -- smoking bans? seatbelt laws? breathalyzer
> tests? taxes? -- coercion? Is academia's "publish or perish" mandate
> "coercion"?)

In fact the first rule of academic life is not "publish or perish", it
is "don't mess with Exam Board". Ignoring the former rebounds on you,
ignoring the latter (by failing to set exams, return marks, undergo
the necessary QA activities) severely impacts your colleagues and
students. No-one refers to the examinations process as "coercion" or a
"mandate", it is just a part of our professional activities. Not to
fulfill our duties is simply unacceptable when that's what we're paid
for and so many people are depending on us.

I don't think I'm making an inappropriate comparison when I say that
Science, Research and Scholarship are collaborative ventures, with
colleagues all over the world depending on us to provide them with
some shoulders on which to stand.

Being unusual, the language of mandate makes some people cry "foul",
but that is perhaps because we don't have an equivalent word for "the
process by which you force lecturers to attend Exam Board". An OA
mandate isn't an unusual, invented and offensive concept, it is simply
a realisation of our professional duty to our research colleagues.
Les Carr
Received on Sun Jan 27 2008 - 16:10:09 GMT

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