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Thursday, July 05, 2007

Society publishers should embrace OA

Chris Armbruster, Society Publishing, the Internet and Open Access: Shifting Mission-Orientation from Content Holding to Certification and Navigation Services?  A preprint, self-archived July 5, 2007. 

Abstract:   The internet and the rise of e-Science alter the conditions for scholarly communication. In signing declarations against open access mandates, society publishers indicate that they feel most threatened by the emergence of institutional repositories and the self-archiving mandates that these make possible. However, I suggest that more attention should be paid to the impact of e-Science, the rise of internet-based guild publishers and the entrance of players from the new economy.

In the Philosophical Transactions, Henry Oldenbourg in 1665 provided the model of academic journal publishing, conjoining dissemination and certification, and setting up the journal as a register and archive of knowledge claims. With the internet, however, the time has come to step out of Oldenbourg's long shadow. Society journals should stop aspiring to such functions as registration and archiving and should shed electronic dissemination, while enhancing certification and investing in (new) navigation services.

From the body of the paper:

[P]rofessional societies have done exceptionally well in applying their knowledge networks and tools to produce outstanding journals. They stand to benefit from open access because society publishers are embedded within their specific community, which they serve in a number of ways. They are ideally placed to utilise the rise of digital peer production (e.g. e-Science, but also the textgrid for the humanities) and global epistemic networks (researchers sharing a broadly defined research programme and, for example, sharing pre-prints) to deliver value-adding services to a global audience of users. Society publishers may find that institutional repositories and, more generally, digital libraries, could become partners in publishing. If repositories and libraries collect, disseminate and curate the content, then society publishers may concentrate on providing what they do best: adding value through certification and navigation services....

By ensuring the creation of well-populated repositories, deposit mandates will facilitate the emergence of these new overlay services. I suggest that societies should therefore consider engaging research funders and research organisations in discussion of how best to organise the deposition of publications and data in an open fashion, so that valuable new services may be developed by societies.