Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Friday, October 12, 2007

Gore and IPCC could boost OA to research on climate change

Al Gore and the UN Intergovernment Panel on Climate Change won the 2007 Nobel peace prize today.  More coverage.

Comments.  What's the OA connection? 

  • I believe that book authors have every right to choose royalties over OA, and I haven't changed my mind.  But this would be a good time for Al Gore to consider OA for his book and DVD.  (The teachers guides are already OA.)  He might decide that a year's worth of royalties is enough and at this point the value of spreading the word outweighs the value of future royalties.  He might decide to test the theory (clearly confirmed for some monographs) that an OA edition can increase net sales of a print edition.  He might decide that any losses from an OA edition are offset by the Nobel prize money. 
  • At a press conference, Gore said, "I will be doing everything I can to try to understand how to best use the honor and recognition of this award as a way of speeding up the change in awareness, and the change in urgency."  OA is an essential part of any plan to speed up change in awareness.
  • At least Gore should create an OA web page citing sources for the scientific claims in the book and DVD.  The absence of citations in the book needlessly feeds skepticism, and the presence of citations would do nothing to undermine sales.
  • The IPCC doesn't conduct or fund original research, but it does review published research and it does publish its reports.  According to its about page, "A number of IPCC reports are published commercially. Summaries, CD ROMs and Technical Papers can be obtained free of charge. A limited number of full reports are available from the IPCC Secretariat for developing countries and countries with economies in transition."  Hence, I make the same OA recommendation to the IPCC.  Please consider making all your reports OA. 
  • Gore and IPCC could have an even greater impact by jointly recommending (1) that all peer-reviewed journals publishing research on climate change permit immediate postprint archiving, if they don't do so already, and (2) that all authors of such research self-archive their peer-reviewed postprints without delay.  The principle is:  the more knowledge matters, the more open access to that knowledge matters.
  • According to the Nobel Committee announcement, Gore and the IPCC won the prize "for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change."  OA would unquestionably magnify the same good work.
  • For other efforts to provide OA to research on climate change, see my blog posts on the subject.

Update. Adam Hodgkin makes a similar argument at ExactEditions: "Given the environmental message of the author it is strange that Gore has not insisted that his publishers promote with open access versions of his book. The book is so beautifully produced that more copies would surely be sold."