Re: Journals > Peer-Reviewed Journals > Open-Access Journals < Open Access

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Mon, 15 Dec 2003 12:24:57 +0000

In response to:

>sh> it would be helpful if Richard could consider
>sh> and reply to the points made by Helene Bosc
>sh> both
>sh> on the number of suitable journals of various kinds, and on the very
>sh> important question of "consanguinity": Should there be many independent,
>sh> competing journals, as now, or a few under the same roof, a possibility
>sh> Jan Velterop of BioMedCentral has suggested? ("Why not just 250?")

On Mon, 15 Dec 2003, Jan Velterop replied:

>jv> For the record, I *never* said, suggested, or implied "under the same roof".

It would be very helpful if Jan could describe the topology of fitting
the 2,500,000 annual articles (which currently appear under 24,000
different roofs) under 250 roofs instead, while not fitting any subset
of them under the same roof? (Full context for the above quote follows:)

>jv> I fully agree with what Mike and Sally say. 'Numbers of journals'
>jv> is a bad metric, as their sizes differ so dramatically. But
>jv> what Mike brings up is very important. It's not the number of
>jv> journals that count but the range of options to publish with
>jv> open access. Why would the current universe of 25,000 toll access
>jv> journals have to be replaced by 25,000 open access journals? Why
>jv> not just 250? Or why not 50,000? It is the proportion of the
>jv> literature that is available with open access that counts. Small
>jv> now, but growing fast, and likely to reach a 'tipping point'
>jv> in the foreseeable future.

I would also like to ask where Jan sees the fast growth that is taking us
to the impending tipping point: Open-access self-archiving is providing
at least three times as much open access (7.5%) as open-access publishing
today (2.5%), and growing faster too, but both are still growing far, far
too slowly, with self-archiving being the more under-utilized resource,
because it has the far greater immediate growth potential.

If the advocates of the open-access publishing component (1) of the
unified ("gold/green") open-access provision strategy:

    "(1) Publish your article in an open-access journal if a suitable one
    exists ('gold'), (2) otherwise publish your article in a suitable toll-access
    journal and also self-archive it ('green')."

were always as conscientious about promoting *both* components of the
unified strategy as they are about promoting their own component in it,
then perhaps the advocates of (2) would not have to spend so much time
reminding open-access enthusiasts and the press that open access does
not equal open-access publishing -- and open-access provision might
actually start that growth burst toward the "tipping point" in the
foreseeable future! The undeniable recent growth spurt in open-access
consciousness (arising mainly from the efforts and recent successes of
advocates of (1), gold) needs to be mobilized and channeled. Right now
it is all still too much inclined toward passive petition-signing and
Waiting for Gold -- instead of toward also taking the easy and obvious
self-help steps ((2), green) open to all researchers and their
institutions, as open-access providers for their own research output,

Stevan Harnad

PS Jan, I truly believe that the BioMedCentral journals have as much to
gain from accelerating the growth of author/institution self-archiving
of toll-access articles as open access itself does. Nothing will incline
authors more toward submitting their papers to OA journals than the growth
of OA itself, both for authors and users. It is addictive; it wears its
benefits on its sleeve; it is optimal for research and researchers;
it is inevitable. Let us not delay or constrain it by
promoting only our own local component in it. BMC suggests
a universal open-access label on all open-access articles?
Far more useful would be a universal trailer of the unified open-access
strategy (gold/green) on all BMC articles and promotion. OAI-tags and the
"refereed journal" name will take care of the rest.

Unified Dual Open-Access-Provision Policy:
    BOAI-2 ("gold"): Publish your article in a suitable open-access
            journal whenever one exists.
    BOAI-1 ("green"): Otherwise, publish your article in a suitable
            toll-access journal and also self-archive it.
Received on Mon Dec 15 2003 - 12:24:57 GMT

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