... [Fred Dylla, executive director and CEO of the American Institute of Physics] has been involved in another example of a project to try to find common ground on the subject of access – the US House Science and Technology Committee Roundtable on public access, which quietly began meeting over the summer. The lack of publicity was aimed at avoiding the political pressure that usually characterises such discussions.
Although this group was facilitated by the US government, policy makers have not been involved in the discussions and they did not set any agenda or goals. ‘It’s the academic community arguing with itself and so it shouldn’t have government interference,’ pointed out Dylla. “Government acted as a facilitator then withdrew and will listen to our recommendations.”
The group includes representatives from across the industry – publishers, the academic community and libraries – and the many different viewpoints on open access are represented. The people involved have to come to the discussions as ‘knowledgeable individuals’ rather than as employees of their parent companies.
‘We hope to come up with recommendations that should satisfy the middle ground. We are still deliberating but the first part of the activity has been a success,’ reported Dylla. ‘We sat down and examined our differences – and the common ground.’
From these initial discussions the group agreed that economic pressures are stressing all sectors, and that scholarly publications are too important for scholarship to allow disruptive and unsuitable transitions in business models. It also agreed that polarisation in the debate has generated more pronouncements than documented evidence.
‘The consensus is that the publishing industry will evolve rapidly in the next five years and that predictions are unreliable,’ he said, adding that changes made to reach the goal of expanded access, interoperability and reuse should be incremental and based on a “do no harm” principle.
The group feels that governments should act as partners and facilitators, but not tell the industry what to do. ‘Government mandates tend to be one size fits all. This doesn’t work. Weekly journals are not the same as quarterlies. Science journals are very different from humanities,’ explained Dylla. ...
The open access movement:
Putting peer-reviewed scientific and scholarly literature
on the internet. Making it available free of charge and
free of most copyright and licensing restrictions.
Removing the barriers to serious research.