From: Stevan Harnad <amsciforum_at_GMAIL.COM>
Date: Fri, 27 Nov 2009 07:54:08 -0500

[Hyperlinked version of this post: ]

Gold OA institutional "membership" is incoherent and does not scale.
It only gives the illusion of making sense if you think of it locally,
and myopically. Annual institutional subscriptions to journals
containing the annual outgoing refereed research of all other
institutions do not morph into annual institutional memberships for
publishing each institution's own outgoing refereed research. There
are 25,000 journals and 10,000 institutions! Is every single
institution to commit and contract in advance to pay for its
(potential) fraction of annual submissions to every single journal?
And is every journal to commit and contract in advance to accept every
institution's annual fraction of submissions? (Is that peer review?)
This is a global oligopolistic illusion that would fit publishers just
about as well as it would fit McDonalds, except there are at least
25,000 journals, and institutions each have thousands of consumers
with diverse dietary needs.

Part of the illusion of coherence comes from thinking in terms of
journal-fleet publishers instead of individual journal submissions.
But this is merely another variant of the "Big Deal" strategy that has
done nothing to solve either the accessibility or the affordability
problem. The reality is that (Gold) OA publishing is premature today,
except as a proof of principle. What is needed first is for universal
(Green) OA self-archiving mandates to be adopted by institutions and
funders. That will provide universal (Green) OA, which may eventually
generate cancellation pressure that will induce journals to cut
obsolete costs and products/services by downsizing to just providing
peer review, paid for by individual institutions on an individual
outgoing article basis out of a fraction of their annual windfall
savings from their institutional subscription cancellations. To buy
into "memberships" with fleet publishers now, pre-emptively, and at
current prices, while the money is still tied up in subscriptions
(which cannot, of course, be cancelled in advance, before OA) is both
penny- and pound-foolish -- and especially if a "member" institution
has not even first mandated Green OA self-archiving for all of its
refereed research output...

Stevan Harnad
Received on Fri Nov 27 2009 - 12:56:30 GMT

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