Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Monday, June 16, 2008

Heather Morrison on the cost of embargoes

Heather Morrison made two posts on the subject of self-archiving embargoes to her blog, The Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics, on June 14, 2008:
  • Knowledge, Now! Or why we cannot afford embargoes:
    ... We humans have other problems to resolve, and we need to figure them out quickly. One is global warming. Figuring out how to slow or reverse the trend is an urgent need. We need to find environmentally friendly ways of producing and consuming energy, and the sooner the better. In our globalized world, we need to learn how to live together in peace.

    It is understandable that publishers accustomed to a subscriptions approach to disseminating information worry about whether open access will impact their revenues ...

    However, we cannot afford embargoes. The point of scholarly research is advancing knowledge. In the course of pursuing knowledge, money is spent. Some will profit by this, whether they sell laboratory equipment, or publish the results of research. This is a fine thing, but it is not the point. If the lab finds a better way of doing research and no longer needs to purchase an outdated piece of equipment, would we say that the lab must continue doing research the old way, to keep the equipment-makers in profits? Of course not!
  • Put yourself in the patient's shoes: no embargoes to medical research:
    ... For anyone considering whether an embargo period on open access is fair, or how long an embargo period is fair, please put yourself in the patient's shoes.

    Imagine that you are in your own living room, talking with your loved one who has just received a diagnosis of a terminal or very serious illness, that cannot be treated with yesterday's treatments.

    If a new treatment or cure is made possible with money paid for by your tax dollars, how long do you think you, your loved one and your health care providers should wait to read the results?

    If a new line of research has opened up that shows some promise of a new treatment, how long should we hold off on making the results available to all researchers so that everyone available and interested can build on what has been done, and advance our knowledge towards the cure? ...