Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Friday, November 16, 2007

Harnad on Esposito

Stevan Harnad, Publishing Management Consultant: "Open Access Is Research Spam", Open Access Archivangelism, November 15, 2007. 

SummaryJoseph Esposito, a management consultant, says Open Access (OA) is "research spam." But OA's explicit target content is all 2.5 million peer-reviewed articles published annually in the world's 25,000 peer-reviewed research journals. (So either all research is spam or OA is not spam after all!).

Esposito says researchers' problem isn't access to journal articles (they already have that): rather, it's not having the time to read them. This will come as news to the countless researchers worldwide who are denied access daily to the articles in the journals their institution cannot afford, and to the authors of those articles, who are losing all that potential research impact.

Search engines find it all, tantalizingly, but access depends on being able to afford the subscription tolls. Esposito also says OA is just for a small circle of peers: How big does he imagine the actual usership of most journal articles is?

Esposito applauds the American Chemical Society (ACS) executives' bonuses for publishing profit, even though ACS is supposed to be a Learned Society devoted to maximizing research access, usage and progress, not a commercial company devoted to deriving profit from restricting research access only to those who can afford to pay them for it (and for their bonuses).

Esposito describes the efforts of researchers to inform their institutions and funders of the benefits of mandating OA as lobbying, but he does not attach a name to what anti-OA publishers are doing when they hire expensive pit-bull consultants to spread disinformation about OA in an effort to prevent OA self-archiving from being mandated. (Another surcharge for researchers, in addition to paying for their bonuses?)

Esposito finds it tautological that surveys report that authors would comply with OA mandates, but he omits to mention that over 80% of those researchers report that they would self-archive willingly if mandated. (And where does Esposito think publishers would be without existing publish-or-perish mandates?)

Esposito is right, though, that OA is a matter of time -- but not reading time, as he suggests. The only thing standing between the research community and 100% OA to all of its peer-reviewed research article output is the time it takes to do the few keystrokes per article it takes to provide OA. That is what the mandates (and the metrics that reward them) are meant to accomplish at long last....

Also see Stevan's follow-up today:

On Thu, 15 Nov 2007, Joseph Esposito wrote:

"Hey, Stevan, come off it. Read the article. Once again you pick a fight when I mostly agree with you."
I was commenting on your interview rather than your article, but if you insist, here goes. The comments are much the same. I think we are galaxies apart, Joe, because you keep on imagining that OA is about unrefereed peer-to-peer content, whereas it is about making all peer-reviewed journal articles freely accessible online....

PS:  I blogged a substantial excerpt from Esposito's article (not the interview) on November 6, and added a few comments.