Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Friday, March 14, 2008

Jan Velterop comments on his move

Jan Velterop, Onwards from open access, The Parachute, March 14, 2008.  Excerpt:

As many of my readers will already know, I have recently decided to leave my position of Director of Open Access at Springer for that of CEO of Knewco Inc. Several reactions that I have since received indicate to me that my move is not necessarily understood by everyone, and I’ve even seen speculations that my leaving open access might mean that it is not going anywhere at Springer.

Let me say the following to that. First of all, OA has developed some very solid roots within Springer and I am most confident that OA is being further developed with alacrity by my successors at Springer.

Secondly, I don’t feel that I am leaving open access....And open access is only one of the ways in which the speed, efficiency and quality of scientific discovery can be enhanced.

Looking back on my career, I feel that my motives haven’t changed much....

Open access logically follows on from [my work on IDEAL/APPEAL* (at Academic Press) in 1994-95 and later]. The challenge was – still is – to find appropriate economic models to sustain professional scientific publishing with open access. The recently agreed arrangements between Springer and the Max Planck Gesellschaft, the UKB (all the Dutch universities plus the Royal Library), and Göttingen University, may point to a way forward....

If the underlying motive is, however, to get the most out of the scientific knowledge that has been gathered, which it is in my case, then moving on from open access to the semantic web – the concept web, if you wish – feels, at least to me, an entirely logical step. Not all knowledge after all is captured in journal articles. There is much more besides those, in databases, for instance, and in less formal web conversations. (A case can even be made that journal publishing ‘destroys’ data, for instance by reducing them to simple pixels in graphs, taking away the underlying richness of the data). Also, the connections between knowledge fragments are not always easily made purely by reading journal articles, in may areas a problem exacerbated by the sheer numbers of articles published. And all relevant. We are in a situation of overwhelming – and growing – abundance of scientific information, and methods that deal with that abundance are clearly needed. This is what Knewco people are working on, and I am very excited to join them.

PS:  For background, see the original Springer announcement and my comments.