Open access: Don’t grumble about journals -- just do it! 2012-06-14


“I did my doctoral research in the days before the world-wide-web (just). But we had the internet, and when Herbi Dreiner and I had finished what was my first ever academic paper, he added it to a ‘bulletin board’ managed by Los Alamos National Laboratory in the US. It was then emailed to particle physicists around the world who subscribed to the bulletins. This was new to me. Theorists were ahead of the experimentalists (as usual). But pretty soon experiments joined in. And when the web came along, the whole thing moved over there, and is now the wonder of arXiv, curated by Cornell University, funded in an international collaborative model and free at the point of submission and at the point of access. My first paper is still there. The arXiv stores the full text and figures of papers1. Basically all particle physics, astrophysics and astronomy papers are there, regardless of whether they are also in a journal or not. There is also coverage in condensed matter, nuclear physics, mathematics, biology and more, though I don't know what fraction of publications in those areas are uploaded. My paper was also published in Nuclear Physics B, an Elsevier journal. You can buy it there too, a snip at $31.50, of which Herbi and I get... well, nothing. Back in 1992, the distribution function of the journal was still important. These days, arXiv does that better and cheaper. But even now the quality control and refereeing function (done by the journal editor and independent academic referees) are valuable... Journals in particle physics and astronomy still have a role, even after more than a decade of ubiquitous arXiv usage by their authors. Whether large subscription prices, and large open access charges to authors, would be sustainable if all science papers were on arXiv, I don't know. Perhaps they would be driven down, perhaps that would be healthy. Either way, I suspect there is a business model that could work... In looking around for comment from other fields, I found this excellent summary from a medical physicist. It reviews some journal access policies, and calls out some journals which attempt to prevent authors posting to arXiv. But not many. I think the pressure of petitions such as this, and from funding agencies, should be brought to bear there, rather than on insisting the journals themselves charge authors for open access. Posting on arXiv or a similar server should be mandatory. The key point from that blog is: ‘the primary obstacle to open access in medical physics is adoption by authors’ I wonder for how many other fields this is also true?”



08/16/2012, 06:08

From feeds:

Open Access Tracking Project (OATP) »

Tags: oa.business_models oa.publishers oa.comment oa.elsevier oa.physics oa.repositories.disciplinary oa.arxiv oa.sustainability oa.prices oa.repositories oa.economics_of



Date tagged:

06/14/2012, 07:54

Date published:

06/14/2012, 11:21