Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

OA and the ecosystem of scholarly communication

Rick Forsman, Life and death on the coral reef: an ecological perspective on scholarly publishing in the health sciences, Journal of the Medical Library Association, January 2005. Excerpt: 'Management guru Warren Bennis says that leaders are all too often "thwarted by an unconscious conspiracy to preserve the status quo", and many would say that describes those faculty members who would like to ignore electronic publishing and the new possibilities it presents. Some faculty and librarians actively strive to sustain the status quo, often in direct conflict with those seeking to push change through promulgation of new online journals. We need to convince our fellow librarians and faculty colleagues that change is essential, it is in their best interest, and it merits action....With the advent of HighWire Press, the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, PubMed Central, BioMed Central, BioOne, the Open Archives Initiative, and the Public Library of Science comes the chance to transform scholarly communication in very fundamental ways....Open access and related publications are beginning to have a huge impact on the print world. They are being cited as widely and used even more frequently than print journals for the same subject disciplines. If ever we had a chance to help break the old mold and design a new one for the future, this is that time. The free market demonstrates the continual failure of many would-be commercial firms. It appears that electronic publishing may well reduce the stranglehold of monopolies and, at least for a time, restore a freer free market. MLA members are key players in that marketplace, and we are more than mere buyers. By working with faculty colleagues, we can play a role in controlling the supply of resources to various publishing vehicles as well as the way they are accessed. If we do not take a part in this revolution, we will surely be its victims....If we accept the application of a biological ecosystem as a model that aptly fits the publishing world, we must pay attention to the chain of interdependencies in that model and not just focus on one factor, such as open access versus for profit. We must acknowledge the complexities, our incomplete understanding of the fragile dynamics, and the danger of well-intended but ignorant meddling.'