Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Studying the redirection of university funds from TA to OA

Don Waters of the Mellon Foundation is willing to fund a study of “the feasibility and desirability of a massive reallocation of institutional funds [from journal subscriptions] to support open access”.  From his LibLicense post of August 15:

The "possibility of redeploying some of the funds available for 'indirect costs' from library subscriptions and site licenses to supporting open access initiatives" is frequently mentioned on this list.  It seems to me to be a very glib assertion that ignores the complexity of university organization and budgeting, a point that Jim O'Donnell and others have made in a previous postings to this list.  The assertion nevertheless keeps arising and it may be time to test the likelihood of the "possibility."

I would be very interested in learning of research universities whose presidents or provosts in conjunction with their library and faculty, are conducting or would be willing to conduct (possibly with foundation support), a serious and intensive study of the feasibility and desirability of a massive reallocation of institutional funds to support open access.  Would members of this list identify such institutions and an individual whom I could contact for more information either by a posting to this list or by replying directly to me? [djw *at* mellon *dot* org]


  • I applaud this step, especially the focus on feasibility and desirability.  The idea of redirecting funds from TA journals to OA journals is serious and attractive.  My position is not that redirection is easy or inevitable, but that it’s feasible and very desirable.  (If there is a “glib assertion” about it floating around, it’s that redirection will be easy or inevitable.)  I don’t advocate —or haven’t yet advocated— what could be called preemptive redirection:  the cancellation of TA journals in order to free up funds for OA [*].  OA archiving is already growing without the need for redirecting funds.  But I do argue that if the growth of OA archiving causes the cancellation, conversion, or demise of TA journals, as many publishers fear, then the money formerly spent on their subscriptions can and should be spent first on the OA alternative.
  • [*] Qualification:  I support CERN’s SCOAP3 initiative, which I interpret as a cooperative plan of preemptive redirection worked out with the agreement of publishers themselves, and I would support similar initiatives in other fields.
  • In short, if it’s glib to say that redirection is easy or inevitable, then it’s also glib to say that the cancellation, conversion, or demise of peer-reviewed TA journals will entail the end of peer review.