Re: Is the "request copy" button good for OA?

From: Andrew A. Adams <a.a.adams_at_READING.AC.UK>
Date: Fri, 5 Feb 2010 10:49:39 +0000

> From: Jan Szczepanski <jan.szczepanski_at_UB.GU.SE>
> Subject: Re: Is the "request copy" button good for OA?
> The problem with the green way is mainly that it is a parasitic and has
> no life of it's own.
> More like a virus. The way scientists has taken is the golden road. That
> is creating their
> own journals and a complete free new infrastructure that has nothing to
> do with the
> commercial. This has been created without threats, force or mandates.

Jan, you have the relationship utterly reversed here. It is the publishers
who are the parasites. They used to provide a necessary service to scientists
and scholars, in the Gutenberg era. That service was the typesetting,
printing and distribution of content. Editing and peer reviewing has always
been done primarily by scientists and scholars themselves, not professional
publishers. True, some editors moved across to become paid members of the
publishing profession, but the vast majority of the academic work involved in
publishing is done for free by scientists and scholars. In the
Licklider/Berners-Lee era publishers role _should_ be only to administer peer
review and perhaps copy editing (most type-setting is now done by the authors
themselves, the rest of the typesetting being unnecessary work done to
maintain Gutenberg-era house styles which are pointless now), if "publishers"
are actually needed at all to organise this, since universities themselves
and scholarly societies are probably better placed to take over this role.
However, a variety of factors well laid out as the Zeno's Paralysis axioms by
Stevan. Given this inertia, and the loss of access by researchers even at
reasonably well-funded institutions (as a broad interdisciplinary researcher
I am constantly finding access barriers not covered by even the expensive
volume licensing arrangements the University of Reading subscribes to) the
most efficient way forward, as demonstrated by the deposit rate for mandates
and the low cost of maintaining repositories, is for universities to become
the electronic distributor of the work of their researchers. Central
repositories from ArXiv to the Depot can provide the locus of deposit for
non-affiliated researchers. How, then, are repositories and mandates
parasitic? They are only if your viewpoint is that the purpose of journal
publishing is to fill the coffers of the publishing industry. If you believe
that the purpose of publishing scientific and scholarly articles is for those
article to be read by other researchers (and possibly a wider public
audience) then mandates and IRs are the obvious solution to the access
problem, not parasites on the poor beast of publishing (which has been
leeching funds unnecessarily out of universities for twenty years). Mandates
would be unnecessary without Zeno's Paralysis, but claims like yours on the
"parasitic nature of repositories" are re-inforcing this paralysis. Gold OA
is quite probably the future, but it will take far too long to arrive and
cost far too much access. Green OA is both the solution to the immediate
access problem and probably one of the best ways to ensure a smooth
transition (for researchers, I really couldn't care less about publishers) to
a working Gold OA system, because universal green OA (which has many side
benefits for institutions themselves in terms of internal communications,
personal publications lists, tracking of researcher outputs and hence is a
sustainable distribution mechanism) then provides a basis on which the real
work of Gold journals (providing robust peer review and editorial mechanisms)
can be focussed. Without first acheiving near-universal green OA, Gold OA
will most likely remain an expensive sideline by which the parasitic
publishers maintain their grasp on scarce university budgets, and continue to
insult scholars and scientists by insisting on a transfer of copyright
instead of a license to publish.

Dr Andrew A Adams, School of Systems Engineering
The University of Reading, Reading, RG6 6AY, UK
From 1st April 2010:
Professor, Graduate School of Business Administration, and
Deputy Director of the Centre for Business Information Ethics
Meiji University, Tokyo
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Received on Fri Feb 05 2010 - 11:50:43 GMT

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