Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Friday, March 30, 2007

Candidate for IEEE president supports OA

John Vig, one of the candidates for president of the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers), supports embargoed OA.  From his campaign page on OA:

Open access, the worldwide movement to disseminate scholarly research literature online, free of charge, is a serious challenge because half of IEEE’s revenues results from the sale of publications....

Delayed open access, the most likely to be successful open access model, e.g., making publications open access a year after publication, would not be as damaging to IEEE’s revenues. Because most subscribers want immediate access to newly published articles, delayed open access would allow the IEEE to maintain most of its publication revenues while also fulfilling its mission of being “for the benefit of humanity and the profession.” We should monitor the progress of the open access movement, and, meanwhile, make plans for the IEEE’s response to governmental and other mandates for open access. We should also develop new revenue sources, products and services, to replace the revenues which may be lost as a result of open access.

The IEEE is already partly open access because IEEE policy permits “Authors and/or their companies… to post their IEEE copyrighted material on their own servers without permission…” Once an article is posted, Google Scholar, Windows Live Academic and others can find it and make it available to the world, for free.

One reason that open access is likely to grow is that, according to a recent survey, open access articles are cited about twice as often as closed access articles. Authors want to be cited, so, it is highly probable that the number of authors who post their articles in OA archives will continue to grow.

In my opinion, the question is no longer IF the IEEE will be open access some day. It is only a question of how and when....

The page includes comments from IEEE members and Vig's replies. Vince Rosati asked how Vig would prevent "a serious loss [of revenue] to IEEE".  From Vig's reply:

I would use my position to convince the IEEE Board of Directors, and the rest of the pertinent IEEE leadership, to do two things: 1) Have IEEE embrace the open access (OA) movement, within reason, and, 2) Invest more to develop new revenue producing products and services – to replace revenues lost as a consequence of OA.

OA makes sense, and it is in accord with the last phrase of our mission statement, i.e., OA is definitely “…for the benefit of humanity and the profession.” Rather than fighting the movement, let’s join them and try to influence them. As I said above, I feel that IEEE could live with delayed OA, provided that the delay is not too short....

We should also do some OA experiments. Let’s find out how delayed OA would affect our subscription revenues, citations, etc. by, for example, making two of our journals OA. (We can always discontinue the experiment in the unlikely event that we find OA to be harmful.)

Last year, we added $31M to our financial reserves while investing <$3M in new products and services. Our reserves have grown to $169M – which comes to ~$500- per member, and is well above the minimum level recommended by the experts! Surely, we can afford to spend more, a lot more, on developing new products and services – not just for the sake of revenues, but also to provide more membership benefits. We are not investing enough in our future.

None of us know what the future holds, but, as Alan Kay said, “The best way to predict the future is to invent it.” So, let’s invent our future! We should be doing this whether or not OA hurts us....