Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Monday, May 14, 2007

Researcher action and government action

Stevan Harnad, When Will the Research Community Take OA Matters Into Its Own Hands? Open Access Archivangelism, May 13, 2007.  Excerpt:

Chris Armbruster wrote in the SPARC Open Access Forum:

"...the publishers' lobbyists on this occasion were successful - they had their position written into the Bundesrat opinion, almost to the letter.
"This Bundesrat opinion is bad news for OA... How come that toll access publishers had it all their way? good are OA activists in addressing the concerns of policy makers and parliaments?

"There principally are two routes to OA - a) via the self-regulation of universities, libraries, science organisations and learned societies, or b) via political regulation. decision-makers... providing 'conclusive evidence' that allows them to decide for you (and against the other side). Is the OA movement ready for this kind of adversarial politics?"

Probably not.

And although an OA Lobby is a good idea, the research community (researchers, their universities and their funders) can do it all amongst themselves already, even without a Lobby. There is a simple way, if we can only get the research community to listen, and understand, and act: The Immediate-Deposit/Optional-Access (ID/OA) Mandate removes the publishers and the publishing lobby from the decision loop completely. Government intervention is not needed either.

All I can do is keep repeating this message, amidst all the hubbub and indirection, hoping that it will be understood that all else becomes moot if the research community itself (universities and funders) just mandate ID/OA: Absolutely nothing else matters. Nothing can stop the worldwide research community from doing it. And it will work. And it will bring 100% OA very soon. Everything else just means years more of the confusion and delay we have now. To reach for either less or more is to get next to nothing. ID/OA is completely within our reach; all we need do is grasp it, now.

Comment.  It's true that researchers can achieve OA without government action.  But it's also true that government action can speed up the process.  We ought to work on all fronts at once.