ScienceGuide - The end of the paywall

greboun's bookmarks 2014-01-29


"Hereunder Sander Dekker´s complete speech at the Academic Publishing conference in Berlin: 'What better place could there be for the subject of open access than Berlin? It was here that, over ten years ago, the importance of open access was endorsed in the Berlin declaration. Of course, this raises the question:  what is our position on this now and which direction will we take? What better group of people could there be to answer this question? As publishers, science associations, universities, research funding agencies, libraries, scientists and government representatives, you all play a decisive role in the distribution of knowledge. Together, we can now decide on the direction that open access should take ... Open access is a moral obligation, essential for society and inescapable. That is the summary of my argument so far. No doubt you are thinking: ‘That's nothing new.’ ‘We knew that long ago’.

Over ten years ago, you came together as a scientific community to establish just that in the Berlin declaration. But my question to you now is: why are we not much farther advanced in open access in 2014? The world has definitely not stood still in the last ten years. How can it be that the scientific world – which has always been a frontrunner in innovation - has made so little progress on this? Why are most scientific journals still hidden away behind paywalls?  I believe that this is because we may well agree on the necessity of open access but disagree on how it can be achieved. What will be the costs of the transition to open access journals? Will there be a profitable business model for publishers? Or to put this question in more technical terms: should we choose the Green Road or the Golden Road? ... How to become the winner? We know that setting high ambitions and keeping focus are the most important factors in reaching for gold. We also know that the Golden Road is not the easiest route. It takes time and a lot of energy. It is complicated and requires a great deal of negotiation, in which there will inevitably be compromises. This is because all players must participate: publishers, universities, libraries, funding agencies and scientists themselves.

It is therefore totally understandable that some players prefer the comfort of the Green Road. I also understand why there is criticism of the Golden Road. Publishers are willing, but are not at the forefront because of the revenue they earn from expensive subscriptions and embargoes. Universities fear the Golden Road because of the expense it involves, especially if the transition takes time.   And many scientists are oblivious to the urgency of open access. From their university desks, they can already access all types of scientific articles: the very access that is so lacking in the world outside the universities. So everyone holds each other back, waiting for the others to respond. Ultimately settling for fourth place.  This is why I am making an appeal to all of you. All us today here in Berlin face a choice. We are being asked whether we will stick to our high ambitions or whether we will settle for less. I am going for the Golden Road. I am opting for high ambitions and I believe it is genuinely possible. As long as we act quickly and, more importantly, as long as we act together. I cannot achieve it alone, governments cannot achieve it alone, no one can achieve it alone.

As the State Secretary for science in the Netherlands, I see it as my responsibility to bring the key players together. I have therefore invited all my fellow ministers and state secretaries in Europe to coordinate our national agendas on this issue.  But that is nowhere near enough. Ultimately it is about you, in the world of science, standing behind this movement. I see excellent initiatives everywhere. It is now time to make effective agreements about open access. Agreements that benefit all parties involved: publishers, science associations, funding agencies, universities and libraries. The fact that it is possible is proved by SCOAP3, a consortium of the parties mentioned above that has developed an interesting business model specifically for particle physics. This is a promising example of the route to open access ..."


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Date tagged:

01/29/2014, 08:26

Date published:

01/29/2014, 05:43