Open Access: Not just a matter for scientists 2012-05-18


“‘Eric Johnson is an engineering professional working as a patent facilitator for a multinational company. One of his jobs is to find information and ‘connect the dots’ related to intellectual property of competitors, to develop research strategies for his company. He is also a multiple occurrence Testicular Cancer survivor who used the medical literature to research his condition and inform his treatment. He says: ‘I do not believe I would be alive today if it were not for the information that can only be accessed by the layman (patient) in online sources’. This is just one story of many on the website WhoNeedsAccess, where scientists and non-scientists speak out about their need for access to information. Information that is often inaccessible without expensive subscriptions to scientific journals or payment of € 20-30 per publication. The website is the initiative of Mike Taylor, a scientist and open access advocate, and member of the @ccess Initiative, a group dedicated to the promotion of open access to scientific publications and data for everyone, scientists and non-scientists... So what is in fact happening is, that scientists are publishing in these journals, because they THINK they HAVE TO, because OTHERS DO SO, and also because scientific committees continue to JUDGE SCIENTISTS by their NUMBER OF PUBLICATIONS IN HIGH_IMPACT JOURNALS-which ARE high impact BECAUSE scientists CONTINUE to publish their best work there. The result is a vicious circle that seems hard to break. In this way publishers have succeeded in creating near ideal market conditions for themselves: a product that is delivered for free (by scientists), a quality assurance system that is delivered for free (peer-review by scientists), and an absurdly high price for access to information that is determined entirely by the same publishers... How profitable publishing Science can be, is illustrated by the following figures: in 2011 Elsevier asked $ 7089 for a subscription to Theoretical Computer Sciences (source: American Mathematical Society). That same year Elsevier also made a profit of £768 million on a turnover of £ 2.1 billion, a margin of 37.3%. 78% of those sales came from selling subscriptions to scientific journals... Another example: during the last 6 years, average prices for access to online content from 2 large scientific publishers have increased by an incredible 145%. For a long time it seemed that the publishers could continue this highly lucrative business without too much trouble. That is …… until 21 January this year when Tim Gowers, Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge University made an appeal to his colleagues to boycott Elsevier, one of the largest scientific publishers. That call was so successful, that the list currently counts over 11,000 signatures. The call from Tim Gowers has launched what the English press is already calling the Academic Spring. For example, Harvard, one of the richest universities in the world with a total budget of $ 31.7 billion, decided to cancel ‘too expensive’ journal subscriptions because they no longer could afford them, at the same time asking her professors to publish more or less mandatory in open access journals in order to ‘help increase the reputation of these scientific journals’. In England, the Minister of Science David Willetts announced at a conference with the United Kingdom Publishers Association, that all publicly funded research should be published as open access. The government has called on Jimmy Wales, one of the founders of Wikipedia for help in this process. The Wellcome Trust already had issued an announcement to that same effect for the research that it is funding. The World Bank announced last month, that all existing and new publications, reports and documents will be open access by july 2012. And Neelie Kroes, of the EU Digital Agenda said on May 4, 2012 in a speech in Berlin at the Re: publica conference on the topic of ‘Internet Freedom’, that ‘entire industries that were once based on monitoring and blocking could now be rebuilt on the basis of customer friendliness , sharing and interaction.’ A clearer reference to the scientific publishers can hardly be imagined. In the Netherlands, NWO (Dutch Research Organization) has , for a number of years now, been engaged in promoting open access to scientific publications. Last year, a funding of € 5 million has been made available for adapting existing, or creating new open access journals. One of the new journals that will receive funding is the Malaria World Journal, an online open access journal for malaria research of the Netherlands-based MalariaWorld Internet platform. The benefits of open access are economic, social and scientific in nature: Economic advantages. The Committee of Economic Development (CED) in America has concluded that the benefit by the introduction of open access to NIH has outweighed the costs many times over. And in Australia it was found that open access to the information held by the Bureau of Statistics had cost $ 4.6 million in investments and yielded $ 25 million in benefits. In England, th



08/16/2012, 06:08

From feeds:

Open Access Tracking Project (OATP) »
Open Access Tracking Project (OATP) » Connotea: tomolijhoek's bookmarks matching tag

Tags: openaccess oa.@ccess oa.medicine oa.business_models oa.publishers oa.comment oa.government oa.mandates oa.usa oa.nih oa.advocacy oa.signatures oa.petitions oa.boycotts oa.elsevier oa.libraries oa.netherlands oa.peer_review oa.crowd oa.impact oa.costs oa.quality oa.prestige oa.prices oa.patents oa.funders oa.wellcome oa.lay oa.profits oa.pharma oa.benefits oa.budgets oa.world_bank oa.@access oa.cancellations oa.economic_impact oa.malariaworld oa.europe oa.harvard.u oa.open_science oa.policies oa.journals



Date tagged:

05/18/2012, 06:23

Date published:

05/21/2012, 11:20