Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Friday, February 23, 2007

"The publishing industry is merely the flea on the tail of the dog"

Stevan Harnad, A Tale of Fleas, Tails, Dogs, and Pit-Bulls..., Open Access Archivangelism, February 22, 2007.  Excerpt:

Open Access (OA) to research maximizes research usage, impact, applications, productivity and progress in the online era. Hence OA is optimal for researchers, for their institutions and funders, for the vast research industry, and for the tax-paying public that funds the research and for whose benefit the research is conducted....

Self-archiving mandates are accordingly being adopted by a growing number of funders and institutions worldwide, and are being proposed by still more of them -- notably the European Commission for European research and the Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA) for most of US research.

The publishing industry lobby has been attempting to derail or delay the optimal and inevitable, prophesying, with no evidence whatsoever, that self-archiving mandates will destroy journals and a viable industry.

But in reality this doomsday prophecy is completely false, and in any case the publishing industry is merely the flea on the tail of the dog: The tax-paying public, the research community -- and the vast research and development industry that applies the fruits of research for the general public and for the national and international economy -- are the dog.

The flea has so far successfully wagged the dog, and is lately resorting to "pit-bull" tactics to try to continue doing so. But fortunately, the flea is fated to fail to forestall the optimal and inevitable outcome for research, researchers, their institutions and funders, the research applications industry, and the tax-paying public. OA self-archiving mandates are now imminent, as the sleepy dog is at last waking and coming to its senses about what is in its own best (and hence the public) interest in the online age.

The flea can and will, of course, successfully adapt to the new online reality; what it cannot hope to do is to continue to defer the optimal and inevitable....