Editorial in The Hindu on Free Access to science Publications

Stevan Harnad harnad at ECS.SOTON.AC.UK
Wed Aug 4 08:21:49 EDT 2004


A splendid article (though it dwells a bit too long on the journal
affordability problem, which is not what the UK and US recommended
mandates pertain to, and this hence diverts attention from the *costs*
-- in research usage, impact, productivity and progress -- of *not*
having OA, and the demonstrated *benefits* of providing that OA through
the self-archiving whose mandating is being recommended).

It also calls for scientists "to take the lead in ensuring that their
papers are suitably archived" but it does not connect this with the
actual recommendation of the two Committees, which is that their
universities and research-funders should *mandate* that their scientists

(Clearly many of the scientists themselves would hardly even publish if
publishing were not mandated and they were instead simply asked "to
take the lead in ensuring that their papers are suitably published." A
publish-or-perish condition on funding was needed there, and it is needed
with self-archiving too! And that is precisely what the two Committees
recommended. So the message needs to be: "Research institutions and
funders: in order to maximise the impact of your research output,
implement the UK and US recommendations by mandating that that output
is not only published, but also made OA through self-archiving!")

Never mind. This is still the best journal article I have yet seen on the

Cheers, Stevan

On Wed, 4 Aug 2004, Subbiah Arunachalam wrote:

> Friends:
> The following editorial in The Hindu (a leading Indian newspaper with its
> headquarters in Chennai) of 3 August2004 supports open archives.
> Arun
> [Subbiah Arunachalam]
> IN JULY, THE movement for `open access' got an important boost when the
> Appropriations Committee of the United States' House of Representatives
> and the Science & Technology Committee of the United Kingdom's House of
> Commons recommended measures that would help make scientific journal
> publications available more freely online. Scientists are judged by
> their research output. Each year they publish more than a million papers
> in approximately 16,000 science, technology and medical journals put out
> by more than 2,000 publishers worldwide. Commercial publishers have a
> dominant presence, with Reed Elsevier having a 28 per cent market share.
> There has been a growing feeling that neither the public, which pays for
> much of the science that is published, nor the scientists, who receive
> no payment either for their papers or for carrying out the `peer review'
> that ensures that quality is maintained in journals, benefit by limiting
> access to the papers through journal subscriptions. Not only are
> journals expensive; there is mounting criticism that journal costs have
> been rising exorbitantly. The Commons' S&T Committee noted that
> commercial scientific journal publishers enjoyed "substantially higher"
> profit margins than the academic, educational and professional
> publishing sector as a whole. And this was happening at a time libraries
> were obliged to cut down on journal subscriptions in order to keep
> within budgets. The problem is particularly acute for scientific
> institutions in developing countries such as India. Another issue that
> has been raised is that the larger public has little access to the
> scientific research that their tax money makes possible.
> The limitations of the `subscriber pays' system has led some to attempt
> an `author pays' model for scientific journals. BioMed Central, which
> was established in 2001, has now over 100 journals in biology and
> medicine. [Public Library of Science] PLoS Biology, launched in October
> 2003, has the ambition of joining the front ranks of scientific
> journals; PLoS Medicine is to be launched soon. Prominent public and
> private research sponsors such as the Wellcome Trust in the U.K., the
> Max Planck Society in Germany, and the Centre National de la Recherche
> Scientifique (CNRS) in France, have announced their support for such a
> system of open access. But `author pays' publishing currently accounts
> for merely five per cent of the total journal market. The Commons' S & T
> Committee recommended that another alternative needs to be explored and
> supported - storing published work electronically in institutional
> archives. Just a month before the Committee published its report,
> Elsevier announced that scientists publishing in its journals would be
> allowed to post the final text of their articles on a personal or
> institutional website. Over 80 per cent of the journal publishers allow
> such archiving. The House Appropriations Committee suggested that copies
> of articles published from research supported by the National Institutes
> of Health be deposited within six months of publication in PubMed
> Central, a free digital archive of life science literature.
> The Commons' Committee recommended that "all U.K. higher education
> institutions establish institutional repositories on which their
> published output can be stored and from which it can be read, free of
> charge, online"; and that "Research Councils and other Government
> funders mandate their funded researchers to deposit a copy of all of
> their articles in this way." It is an idea that India - where research
> is overwhelmingly supported by the Government - must adopt with
> conviction and enthusiasm. The software for such archiving is available
> free of cost and has been used to establish an e-print archive at the
> Indian Institute of Science. Not only must more such institutional
> repositories be established; scientists need to take the lead in
> ensuring that their papers are suitably archived.

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