Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Jan Velterop and Peter Banks debate OA

STM open access: Point-counterpoint, DCL News, October 2004. Interviews with Jan Velterop, publisher of BioMed Central, making the case for OA, and Peter Banks, director of publishing at the American Diabetes Association, making the case against.

Excerpt from the Jan Velterop interview: "In science there is also a very practical reason [for OA]: a shift towards data intensive papers that cannot really be read in the same way as they were in the past. And in many cases they shouldn't be. They are records of what the researcher has been doing. But the record is not read in a linear fashion; it is referred to and is mixed with a big chain of other papers. As more analysis gets done, the data is rehashed and reinterpreted in different ways. To bring this ever growing body of research together by hand is an enormous amount of work. But this can be reduced to a fraction if the material is made available electronically - which means text and data can be mined. The preparatory work for further analysis can be done automatically. But for that to work properly you need to have the full-text available without barriers....Some say governments are deciding how publishing should take place. But that is not the case. Governments are simply saying that, where it is they who fund the research, they want to see it openly available. We mustn't forget that it is tax payers' money that is being invested, which means it should be freely available to the public."

Excerpt from the Peter Banks interview: "To have governments create repositories of primary biomedical literature would create major problems as far as the integrity of the literature is concerned. Under the National Institute of Health (NIH) proposal a parallel universe of publications would be created. The publishers would have the final version of a publication, while the NIH would get the early version. So before we launch this program we'd better figure out how to reconcile these various versions....Non-profit and learned society publishers make a tremendous amount of information available already. In my case, two of our American Diabetes Association journals are freely available. In two other peer-reviewed journals, content is available after six months, and the most clinically relevant material is available immediately. We aren't unique in this. The non-profit publishing community puts a lot of effort into making content available for free....I think [governments considering OA policies] been sold a false bill of goods. They've been sold the idea that you can increase the reward from your investment and research by just having open access. They think there is some magical way of extracting more value from the research dollars they're spend now. The open access model they are advocating would do a disservice to the public they pretend to serve."

(PS: Thanks to David Skurnik on the SSP list.)