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Monday, June 30, 2008

More on the Katz-Harnad exchange at AAUP

Stevan Harnad, Exchange with Stan Katz at Association of American University Press Meeting in Montreal, Open Access Archivangelism, June 30, 2008.  Excerpt:

Stan Katz has blogged a summary of the OA session at the Association of American University Presses (AAUP) Meeting in Montreal in the the Chronicle of Higher Education Review. Here are six little clarifications: ...

(2) SK: "[T]he obligation [i.e., recent mandates like Harvard's] to “publish” by mounting articles on free websites will make it impossible for nonprofit presses and learned societies to sustain themselves."

The mandates are for authors to mount (i.e., self-archive) the final, refereed draft of their published article, not to "publish" it by mounting it. This self-archived "Green OA" draft is a supplement, provided for all users whose institutions cannot afford access to the publisher's version. It is not itself another publication.

The publisher might be nonprofit or commercial; that is not the relevant question. The relevant question is whether or not the supplementary OA draft causes cancellations, rendering journal subscriptions unsustainable for covering costs. So far, in the few fields where OA self-archiving has been taking place the longest (15 years) and most extensively (100%) -- e.g. high-energy physics, published by the American Physical Society (APS), the Institute of Physics (IOP) and Reed-Elsevier -- the publishers report that they find no detectable subscription cancellations associated with self-archiving:

However, if and when OA self-archiving ever does cause catastrophic cancellations, making subscriptions unsustainable, then, and only then, journals can (a) offload all their former access-provision and archiving functions, along with their costs, onto the distributed network of institutional repositories, (b) downsize to peer review alone, and (c) convert to the "Gold OA" publication-cost-recovery model, charging the author-institution, per outgoing paper, for peer review and certification instead of charging the user-institution, per incoming journal, for access. The institutions will (on the very same hypothesis, of catastrophic cancellations) have more than enough annual windfall subscription cancellation savings out of which to cover those charges.

(3) SK: "Harnad’s suggestion is that the universities transfer the payments they are currently making to their academic presses to subsidize peer review and archiving of their faculty scholarly output."
No, my suggestion is only that universities should mandate self-archiving. Then, if and when the resulting universal OA should ever make subscriptions become unsustainable, the universities' subscription savings will, by the same token, be freed to pay for the university's peer-review costs. That is no subsidy: It is direct payment for a service, out of the very same funds formerly used to purchase a product....
(6) SK: "[OA has] different... implications...for the humanities and social sciences"

OA pertains to refereed journal articles publication in all disciplines. Humanities and social sciences are not exceptions in any way. All research, in all scholarly and scientific disciplines, benefits from maximizing its uptake, usage, applications and impact by eliminating the access-barriers that have been made obsolete and unnecessary by the advent of the PostGutenberg Galaxy.

PS:  Also see my brief response to Katz' blog post.