Re: View concerning Open Access: Correction

From: Stevan Harnad <amsciforum_at_GMAIL.COM>
Date: Sat, 15 May 2010 00:16:58 -0400

On Fri, May 14, 2010 at 10:17 PM, Steve Berry <> wrote:

> I realize that one needn't pay for OA.  However I think it is unrealistic to
> expect traditional journals to disappear in the near or
> maybe even the foreseeable future, and we can expect that many people will
> want to publish in these journals even when they
> use OA in parallel.

Unfortunately, you are compounding misunderstanding upon misunderstanding!

(1) No one said anything about traditional journals disappearing:
researchers can and will continue to publish in them for as long as
they wish

(2) You seem to have misunderstood OA as requiring funders to fund OA
publishing charges.

(3) I replied that that was not what the OA mandates are about: They
are about providing OA to their final refereed drafts in parallel with
publishing them in their journals of choice, by self-archiving them.

(While journals are "traditional -- i.e., non-OA -- the costs of
publication are covered by institutional subscriptions. If and when
subscriptions become unsustainable because of OA self-archiving,
journals become nontraditional; and then the costs of publication
become just the costs of peer review, paid out of the institutional
subscription cancellation savings. In other words, no need for more
money from funders, just more OA mandates -- from both universities
and funders.)

> I don't think that the funding agencies should take
> away the option of publishing in traditional journals that have
> page charges if the funded scientists feel that their work will get
> important exposure that way.

By "page charges" I presume you mean OA publishing charges. (If not --
if you just mean traditional, non-OA subscription journals that also
happen to levy page charges, then what does this have to do with OA?)

And my point was, no, there is no need at all for funders to provide
extra funds (or to redirect them from scarce research funds) in order
to pay for OA publishing charges -- at least not if the objective is
to provide OA. (Self-archiving provides that, and that's what funders
are mandating.) And certainly not in order to pay for publishing in
traditional journals: A self-archiving mandate does not foreclose that
option: it maximizes its impact (by inducing the self-archiving of the
published paper.)

> Scientists should be capable of deciding
> how they want to disseminate their results.

They are. OA is about maximizing access to the papers scientists
publish in their chosen journals.

> And, given that, the funding
> agencies have an obligation to be ready to pay the small extra
> price of journal publication.

What "small extra price of publication"? Traditional journals' page
charges? (What does that have to do with OA?) OA journals' publishing
charges? (What does that have to do with traditional journals? And why
pay them, since an author can provide OA by self-archiving for free?)

> How, incidentally, would a young scientist, publishing a first brilliant
> work, get anyone to go to her or his totally unknown OA site?

No one goes to unknown OA sites. OA sites' metadata are harvested by
Google Scholar, Google, Citeseer, Scirus, etc.

Scientists, young or old, should publish their work, brilliant or
bearable, in the best journal whose peer review standards it can meet
-- and then maximize access to it by self-archiving it.

> Even if the scientist presents the work at a meeting, only a tiny group of
> people will know of it.

That's why researchers don't just present their work at meetings: they
publish it in peer-reviewed journals. Now, in the online era, they
should also self-archive it, free for all, online. And that's what the
OA mandates are mandating.

Once the misunderstandings are sorted out, Steve, I'm afraid I cannot
detect what point you are making here.

Stevan Harnad

> On May 14, 2010, at 5:27 PM, Stevan Harnad wrote:
> On 2010-05-14, at 12:03 PM, Steve Berry wrote:
> Stimulated by a recent discussion with a colleague claiming at first to be a
> skeptic, even an opponent, of open access,
> I would like to present my personal view--which my colleague accepted and
> found totally compatible with his skepticism.
> The essential idea is this:  Scientific findings and scientific information
> achieve their values only when they are made available
> to the communities where such findings and information can be used.  Those
> findings and information are public goods in the
> strict economic sense, that they do not lose value by being used.  In fact,
> scientific information goes beyond the traditional
> economists' model in that it increases in value with increased use.  This
> means that the agency that provides financial support
> for carrying out the research also carries a responsibility for enabling the
> results of that research to be made available to the
> audience of potential users.  In short, the supporter of the research is
> obligated to provide sufficient funding to enable the researcher
> to publish the results of the work.  The researcher is normally the best
> judge of what medium or media would be most effective for this.
> If it happens to be a journal that has page charges, then the funder of the
> research carries the responsibility of providing the funds
> to pay those page charges.  It's as simple as that.
> No, it's simpler than that. No one has to pay extra charges for Open Access.
> The peer-reviewed final draft need merely be be deposited, free for all, in
> the author's institutional repository, immediately upon acceptance for
> publication.
> That is what all the OA mandates are about -- not about paying journal page
> charges.
> It's good to win over skeptics -- but make sure you know what it is that
> they are to be won over to!
> Stevan Harnad
Received on Sat May 15 2010 - 05:18:08 BST

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