Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Friday, June 12, 2009

More on the university-press statement in support of OA

Barbara Fister, On the Same Page: Ten University Presses Support Open Access, Library Journal, June 11, 2009.  This excerpt picks up after Barbara quotes the statement in support of OA from 10 North American university presses, and my comments on it:

...[Publisher] fears are speculative and exaggerated. The Open Access Directory lists a variety of business models as well as a bibliography that includes publications on the economics of open access and a compilation of guides and best practices for open access journal publishers.

Besides, the experience of Rochester University Press (RUP), publisher of science journals, proves that the open access provisions of the NIH mandate are not damaging to a presses’ balance sheet. In an email, Mike Rossner, the director of RUP, told me “all of our journal articles are free to the public 6 months after publication. This has been the case since January, 2001, and our subscription revenues have increased every year since then, so it is compatible our subscription-based business model.”

In 2008, RUP took a further step and adopted a Creative Commons license. In the words of an editorial in the Journal of Cell Biology describing this new policy, “you wrote it, you own it!” Authors publishing in RUP journals retain copyright of their work and may reuse it however they choose provided they acknowledge the publisher. In turn, RUP grants the public the right to use the work provided it’s for non-commercial use, that the author and publisher are attributed, that the use is “share-alike,” meaning any work that uses it must be offered under the same terms, and that no third-party mirror sites are created—though authors may immediately post it to their own or their institution’s website. RUP also handles submission of the article to PubMed Central. Wouldn’t you want to publish with these guys?

Creating a new model for the public good

At Occasional Pamphlet, Stuart Shieber, the Harvard professor of computer science and director of the university’s Office for Scholarly Communication addresses publishers’ fears directly in a post titled “The Death of Scholarly Journals?” In his conclusion he argues that a different economic model not only works, it has the potential to fix a broken system:

The market will provide for journals because journals add tremendous value. Funds to pay for that value are patently available; they are being paid now. What will change—slowly over time if and as the situation changes—are the market mechanisms that match the costs and value. They will change to a system that doesn’t have the market dysfunctionalities of the present one.

A final word: What is the alternative to this open-access policy or similar steps to improve access? The status quo involves hyperinflation, squeezing library budgets, and further journal cancellation, all of which lead to even more limited access, monograph demand withering, and scholarly societies in trouble. We have been on this spiral for decades. Something needs to be done.

Most academic librarians would heartily agree with that sentiment.  Meanwhile, [let’s give them a round of applause to] the ten innovative and forward-looking presses that have publicly supported openness....[PS:  Here omitting a list of the ten.]