Why Journal Cancellations are a Long Way Off But Open Access Through Self-Archiving Is Not

From: Stevan Harnad <harnad_at_ecs.soton.ac.uk>
Date: Thu, 27 Feb 2003 13:30:04 +0000

    Why Journal Cancellations are a Long Way Off
    But Open Access Through Self-Archiving Is Not

The picture becomes clearer every day. Self-archiving momentum
is growing:
but it is also becoming apparent that it is a mistake to expect that
this will lead to accompanying serials reductions or cancellations.

The reason is quite clear too: Open access is growing anarchically,
and depends entirely on the pace at which authors and their institutions
self-archive their research output.

But even as the proportion of the total refereed journal literature
(20,000 journals) grows, and even as it nears 100% (still nowhere
in sight, but already reachable overnight, if we simply all reach for
it), there will not be (and cannot be) a parallel growth in
toll-access cancellations.

The reason is the anarchic way that self-archiving grows: Unlike
BOAI-2 (the creation and conversion of open-access journals), which
proceeds through the 20K *journals* one by one, BOAI-1 (self-archiving)
proceeds through the annual 2,000,000 *articles* published in those
20K journals, one by one. This means that the total contents of any
particular journal are only becoming openly accessible gradually,
whereas any thought of cancellation depends on having the open-access
version in toto.

This gradualism is not at all a bad thing. Although it provides no direct
relief for the library serials crisis, it does provide growing open access
for researchers. And it gives the journals a long lead time to adjust to
the new reality, with no need to panic or to appear to be trying to block
what is so obviously in the best interests of research and researchers.

Stevan Harnad

NOTE: A complete archive of the ongoing discussion of providing open
access to the peer-reviewed research literature online is available at
the American Scientist September Forum (98 & 99 & 00 & 01 & 02):


Discussion can be posted to: american-scientist-open-access-forum_at_amsci.org

See also the Budapest Open Access Initiative:

the Free Online Scholarship Movement:

the OAI site:

and the free OAI institutional archiving software site:
Received on Thu Feb 27 2003 - 13:30:04 GMT

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