Re: Author Publication Charge Debate

From: Jean-Claude Guédon <jean.claude.guedon_at_UMONTREAL.CA>
Date: Tue, 10 Feb 2004 15:06:21 -0500

See comments below:

Le 10 Février 2004 11:17, Albert Henderson a écrit :
> on Tue, 10 Feb 2004 Jean-Claude =?iso-8859-1?q?Gu=E9don?=
>> wrote:
> > In response to Albert Henderson, let me stress the following points:
> >
> > 1. The trend I was referring to was the growing support of a growing
> > number of various granting agencies for financial support for the OA
> > business plan as exemplified by BioMed Central and by PLos;
> This is a miniscule movement compared to library and R&D spending
> trends. I feel the big picture must be taken into account.

Miniscule? Have you looked at the list of granting agencies involved in the
Berlin declaration? Miniscule? Do you know how much money the Wellcome Trust
spends on research each year.
> > 2. If we look at the growing number of open access journals and the
> > growing number of open access repositories, including OAI compliant
> > personal pages, and if we look at OA harvesters, I would say that
> > movement is still a minority movement but that it is growing well and
> > even fast. I would add that the growing frustration of a number of
> > academics with the behaviour of various publishing houses is leading
> > to an interesting revolt. The latter does not always coincide with
> > open access, at least not yet, but it certainly gets one step closer;
> The frustration is rooted in the failure of universities to meet their
> obligations to support research and education with decent libraries. The
> universities have campaigned long and hard using myths and slogans as
> the core of propaganda aimed at shifing blame to publishers. Only the
> most naive and trusting could accept any of it.

No, the frustration is the kind of frustration you witness when whole
editorial boards move to create a new, alternate solutions to the absurd and
obscenely - yes, I insist on the word (see below) - price commercial
> > 3. The OA movement may be commercial, but it does not have to be.
> > Comparing it to a is inaccurate at best;
> OA so far has shown little success in the real world as Stevan has
> repeatedly pointed out in this forum.

Your answer does not correspond to my comment. I do not know what it is doing
> > 4. If there is one way to increase scientific productivity, it is with
> > open access. Impact figures that begin to trickle in show much greater
> > use of OA literature and, of course, OA literature allows much greater
> > numbers of scientists to get involved in current debates, even in poor
> > countries;
> Better preparation is needed, not more sources -- many unrefereed --
> and the possibility of researchers presuming they can get by without
> access to the reviews and information services that are available only
> through institutional connections.

Better preparation and OA are not incompatible, quite the contrary. Stop
conflating OA with cheap, vanity presses as this is not accurate.
> > 5. How one could ever conflate OA with "every researcher for himself" is
> > beyond my understanding. OA involves a great deal of distribution, but it
> > also rests on a great amount of coordination, standardization and
> > interoperability.
> The task of reading and evaluating cannot be done alone or by reliance on
> what has been released to OA. Many scientific fields require a task force
> and an excellent library to evaluate the literature. This is also true
> of much technology and social sciences but not so much in the Humanities.

PLoS is OA and yet the peer review is done just as rigorously as with a
comemrcial scientific journal, if not better. What is this talk about a "task
force"? What journal has a "task force" to evalute incoming articles? What
distinguishes peer review in an OA context from peer review in a toll-gated
> > 6. Claiming some (obscure) link between OA and isolation from
> > institutions is also very strange : universities themselves are setting
> > up facilities to help faculty set up individual web sites...
> You must not be speaking of readers who hope to bypass their inadequate
> and nonexistent library collections.

Again, I do not undertand your comment.

This said, I have yet to meet a colleague who wants to bypass the local
library resources. He/she may want to complete these resources through some
other means, but bypass? This would be silly
> > 7. If toll provide tools, we should also ask: can tools be financed in
> > ways other than tolls and do we get the best tools with tolls. The answer
> > is yes on both counts;
> Charging authors is a toll, is it not?

I obviously made a mistake in my last remark: of course we could finance tools
in ways other than tolls and, of course we do *not* get the best tools with
the present system of tolls.

Charging authors (or some other financing source such as a granting agency) is
indeed a kind of toll and the questions I raised remain true with regard to
it. In this case, however, the answer is that a number of tools are
unmistakably better : preservations and interlinking are easier to achieve.
Teaching can be irrigated better and more widely in the world. etc. etc.
> > 8. As for Albert Henderson's mantra about raising library budgets, the
> > answer remains the same: of course, so long as it will not allow a number
> > of publishers simply to increase their profit margin beyond the already
> > obscene levels that have been repeatedly observed.
> Have you actually read the public operating statements of any
> publisher? Profits are hardly 'obscene' by any standard. This is what
> I mean when I speak of myths and slogans. If publishers' profits were
> 'obscene,' you and everyone else would own shares. Publishers' profits
> have never come close to profits reported by private research universities
> in the United States.

I stick to my characterization: I find the profit levels of some large
international publishers perfectly obscene. And it was interesting to see how
people were praising Elsevier's performance at the time when the stock market
was plunging lower and lower. It was one of the darlings of the panicky
gambling crowd.

I forgot to add: personally, I don't play the stock market roulette.

And if private research universities exhibit such profits (despite their
non-profit status), then I wonder what the Derk Haanks of the world are doing
in publishing outfits: they would be a lot happier running one of these
universities. Why don't they try? Having debated Haank in public in
Heidleberg last June, I have an idea why... :-)
> Best wishes,

Best wishes for what? Best is enough.


> Albert Henderson
> Pres., Chess Combination Inc.
> POB 2423 Bridgeport CT 06608-0423
> <>
> ature. This is also true
> of much technology and social sciences but not so much in the Humanities.
> > 6. Claiming

Jean-Claude Guédon
Littérature comparée, Université de Montréal
Tél. : 1-514-343-6208
Fax : 1-514-343-2211
Received on Tue Feb 10 2004 - 20:06:21 GMT

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