Re: On not conflating the give-away and non-give-away literature

From: Jan Velterop <>
Date: Fri, 18 Jun 2004 17:46:15 +0100

    Prior AmSci Thread:
    "On not conflating the give-away and non-give-away literature" (2002)

It may be good to move away from this notion of 'give-away' with its
associations of philanthropy. Yes, scientists 'give away' their research
articles. Would we also say that advertisers 'give away' their ads, even
though they clearly do? There is a strong element of well-inderstood
self-interest in the equation and that's just fine. Scientists, like we all,
live in an 'ego-system' and that's where they'll have to survive and, if at
all possible, thrive. Publish or perish.

Some of that self-interest is vested in 'prestige' metrics such as impact
factors and that is where established journals have the edge. Or at least
some of the established journals. The cost to the authors is limited
dissemination. Not all prestige comes from impact factors. There's kudos in
being an early adopter of an innovative model. Funding bodies that favour
open access will surely not frown upon a good article published by a grant
applicant in an open access journal, even if it has no impact factor. A
researcher has to weigh up the perceived gains and losses from choosing
either one or the other model.

We all have a fair idea of the strengths and weaknesses of the impact
factor, and it does make it difficult for new journals to get established,
whether they are open access or not (it's just that virtually all open
access journals are new and only a tiny fraction of the subscription
journals). But it is not impossible. Impact factors, when they are high
enough, impart the perception of prestige to authors, but good authors
impart prestige to journals as well (something often forgotten in the
debate). Experience shows that new journals can get an IF, some even
relatively early, although it is never fast as the very formula of IFs
implies a time lag.

And as soon as new open access journals have a decent impact factor, the
benefits for the author of publishing in those journals are clear. Open
Access journals have to, and will, overcome this hump. Once they do, their
development is likely to speed up tremendously. On the basis of healthy
self-interest, not 'give-away'.

Jan Velterop

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Richard Poynder []
> Sent: 18 June 2004 00:36
> Subject: Re: Apercus of WOS Meeting: Making Ends Meet in the Creative Commons
> It is my belief that the boundary between give-away and non-give-away is not
> as clear-cut as you imply...
> ....
> ....
> Richard Poynder
> Freelance Journalist
Received on Fri Jun 18 2004 - 17:46:15 BST

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