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Sunday, June 29, 2008

Blog notes from EADI conference

Gary Edwards, Hard Talk: Interrogating Open Access, 12th European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes General Conference conference blog (Geneva, June 24-28, 2008), June 28, 2008.

In this session a varied group of advocates and sceptics of Open Access (OA) aims to cut through the jargon to find out what OA really means to the EADI community.

Professor Leo Waaijers (SURF Foundation) opened this debate with an impassioned talk on a hybrid model for publishing journal articles in an open access arena (i.e. free for everyone to view online). ...

He mentioned two key developments in the OA debate. The first was the Berlin declaration in 2003 that 250 Universities declaring that OA was the way forward. The second declaration was the European University’s Association comprising all 850 Universities in Europe offering a statement on OA.

Following that other actors have been slowly moving forward on the OA bandwagon ... He talked of [the] hybrid [journal] model ...

After Waaijers’s presentation it went into the panel discussion ... The host, Professor Lawrence Haddad (Director of IDS) led a lively discussion with good input from the audience. The key question that was raised was ‘who pays’ for the journal articles, and publishing in high quality journals is expensive. Leo Waaijers suggested that is it the institutes themselves should make publishers tender for their researchers journal articles (almost like a bidding war). David Mainwaring commented that this might then produce a two-tier system where only rich institutes would have the buying power to make their journals open access and that the poorer ones would still be forced to sell of the copyright route. Lawrence Haddad agreed that this would give southern researchers more access to materials from northern institutes but would it happen the other way round?

Leo Waaijers suggested that [it] should be an EADI consensus amongst the institute Directors to impose OA models for publishers, but an audience member suggested that if OA was inevitable then why should there be a consensus. Leo Waaijers replied that some publishers were firmly against OA and that if there were a consensus then it would speed things up.

David Mainwaring suggested (and was party agreed by some members of the panel) that perhaps it was wise to go into this new realm slowly as to avoid any pitfalls. Leo Waaijers responded and asked why institutes should be so passive about this issue and it should be the Director’s responsibility to take this forward. He brought up that research showed that OA journals get 2 to 3 times more citations than paid subscription model journals (though some publishers argued against this data). Michel Wesseling said that OA was essential for institutional alumni particularly from his institute in that when students leave they only have a 6 month grace period to still get online access from their library and it would be a great access if it was continued on a permanent basis. ...

The final consensus was that unsurprisingly there was no quick answer and what it comes down to is who will pay for freely available peer-reviewed published development research. What was frustrating about this session was that the issue of Institutional Repositories was only touched on. It will be interesting that at the next EADI general conference in 3 years time how many Institutes will have their own repositories or have signed up to an OA agreement.