Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Harnad on Lynch on OA

Stevan Harnad, Cliff Lynch on Open Access, Open Access Archivangelism, January 12, 2007.  Excerpt:

Summary:  Comments on Cliff Lynch's "Improving Access to Research Results: Six Points":

"Open Access Is Inevitable: How Best to Get There?"

Universities and research funders can and do mandate OA (Green) self-archiving. Cliff seems to be fixated on waiting instead for a transition to OA (Gold) Publishing (and a rather vague definition of OA as "reduced barriers"). He recognizes that Gold's asking price is too high, but not that the transition is also far too uncertain, has already wasted far too much time, and is out of the hands of the research community, whereas Green OA mandates are fast, sure, virtually cost-free, and entirely within the hands of researchers, their universities and their funders. Cliff thinks Green OA is "less optimal" for no reason other than that he thinks it will lead to "fragmentation": Of course it won't: the unifying glue for distributed journal articles is their metadata tags, including their journal's name, not the glue binding any journal's contents.

"Universities Have a Key Stake in the Future of the Scholarly Literature and Thus Should Support Faculty in Negotiations with Publishers."

Advice and support from universities (and funders) on retaining rights is welcome, but rights retention is not a necessary precondition for self-archiving, nor for mandating self-archiving; so if it poses any obstacle to agreement on immediate adoption of a self-archiving mandate (e.g., because researchers are concerned that rights retention might constrain their choice of journals or might put too big a negotiating burden on them), it should be dropped....

"We Need to Talk Directly about the Support of Scholarly Societies."

It is not at all clear why we need to do that! What we need is OA. Green Self-Archiving mandates provide 100% OA. Publisher permission -- whether Scholarly Society or commercial -- is not required for funders and universities to mandate immediate deposit. It is not a conversion to Gold OA publishing that is being mandated. (Funders and universities can only impose mandates on their fundees and employees, not on publishers.) In any case, the funding of Scholarly Societies' "good works" should not be subsidized at the cost of researchers' lost usage and impact. (Cliff does not disagree, but the reason he wants to talk is because he is thinking only of Gold.)

"We Need to Think about What We Can Afford in Scholarly Publishing."

Cliff is right to be sceptical about Gold OA's current asking price but this is only an issue for those who for some reason want to promote immediate conversion to Gold OA, right now. For those who merely seek 100% OA now, the current price of Gold is irrelevant....

"Scholarly Publishing Is a Means to an End: Just because the existing scholarly publishing system has served the academy fairly well in the past does not mean that it has an intrinsic right to continue to exist in perpetuity."

The research community needs OA (to all peer-reviewed journal articles), now; publishing reform is a different agenda....