Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Thursday, January 15, 2004

Elsevier still saying that OA presupposes costlessness

Karen Hunter, Scholarly Publishing: 12 Observations on the Current Situation and Challenges for the Future, Library Connect, December 2003, pp. 2-3. Observation #3: "The current preoccupation with 'free access' rests on false assumptions." Her reason: "Education is not free to students and information in support of education is not free either --any more than food, computers or football stadiums...."

(PS: Wow. I haven't heard this misunderstanding in years, and never expected to hear it again, let alone from the Senior VP for Strategy at Elsevier. From the start, proponents of OA acknowledged that OA literature costs money to produce and merely argued that there are better ways to cover these expenses than by charging readers or their libraries for access. I don't know anyone who defends OA literature on the ground that it costs nothing to produce. Most defenses are explicit in disclaiming this canard. Here, for example, is an entry from the BOAI FAQ, now almost two years old: "[Question] Isn't this wishful thinking? Do you really believe that online archives and journals are free? [Answer] 'Free' is ambiguous. We mean free for readers, not free for producers. We know that open-access literature is not free (without cost) to produce. But that does not foreclose the possibility of making it free of charge (without price) for readers and users....") (Thanks to the NFAIS Information Community News.)