Open-access journals: a perspective from within

03/10/2012 – 8:45 am
Tony McCall

There’s an ongoing debate in the world of academic publishing about whether the public should be allowed open access to research publications we all pay for in the first place.

“If we are paying for this research, aren’t we entitled to scrutinise the results?”

That’s the call-to-arms I’m hearing at the moment, and I thought (as a research physicist and taxpayer) it might be helpful to point out a few seemingly overlooked aspects to add to the discussion.

The latest episode in the ongoing saga is a deal brokered by the Sponsoring Consortium for Open Access Publishing in Particle Physics (SCOAP³) to make all particle physics papers open access.

The deal means journal subscription fees paid by university libraries would be directed towards 12 selected journals in return for public access to those journals. SCOAP³ claims the deal will result in more than 90% of particle physics papers being available for everyone.

An immediate query I have is whether this “90%” conclusion takes into account any push to publish in these (and only these) open-access journals.

More at:-

author: Jonathan Carroll
source: The Conversation (1/10/12)

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  1. One Response to “Open-access journals: a perspective from within”

  2. The problem with this “inside” view is it is from the perspective of only one discipline – the physics community. This group of researchers had a behavioural pattern of sharing preprints by mail well before the internet, so arXiv is simply an extension of their previous behaviour.

    Research disciplines vary not just in their content but also in their communication behaviours, and in many disciplines it is an anathema to share anything other than the final reviewed version of work. The potential issues with sending out incomplete medical research results are obvious. But other disciplines have a strong culture of individualistic, carefully crafted scholarly output – almost the antithesis of a multi-authored short physics paper. None of these systems are the ‘right’ way.

    There is (ironically) a separate body of research that looks at disciplinary or field differences, generally concluding that awareness of other disciplinary content, behaviour and value systems is low amongst the academic community. Any researcher who as worked in a cross disciplinary team will attest to the vast gulfs in understanding between them.

    So while as an open access advocate I applaud the physics community for blazing a trail in this area of sharing research, simply stating that everyone else should ‘just do what we do’ does not really further the discussion.

    By Danny Kingsley on Oct 4, 2012

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