Scholarly Open Access
critiques of open access are not always as factual as they could be, so as
an open access advocate I am concerned when his polemics are presented to
an academic audience that may not know all the facts. So below is my
response to selections from his
open-access movement has been around for more than a dozen years
Actually it has
been around longer than that- Stevan Harnad made his “subversive
1994 on a Virginia Tech email list.
open-access movement is a coalition that aims to bring down the
traditional scholarly publishing industry and replace it with voluntarism
and server space subsidized by academic libraries and other nonprofits. It
is concerned more with the destruction of existing institutions than with
the construction of new and better ones.
This is quite
an evidence-free paragraph. Where is the coalition, and where is the goal
stated of bringing down the traditional scholarly publishing industry? Who
has said all we need is voluntarism and server space? No one I know of.
uses argumentum ad populum, stating only the advantages of providing free
access to research and failing to point out the drawbacks (predatory
publishers, fees charged to authors, and low-quality articles).
frequent discussion of these problems. Credit Beall for bringing attention
to predatory publishers, but it’s less of a problem than he makes it out
to be (and one seemingly devoid of data- Beall would strengthen his claims
if he could document the number of authors victimized and/or the amount of
money lost). A majority of open access journals do not charge authors, and
those that do usually have waivers. There are also plenty of high-quality
open access journals like PLOS
Biology, generally considered tops in its field. And we know
that “low-quality articles” could never appear in a subscription
to argue against “free”—and free access is the chief selling point
of open-access publishing…
access is not just about “free.” OA means free as in cost (to the
reader) but also free as in freedom (open licensing). As a librarian,
Beall should know the barriers that copyright presents in the use of
scholarship by libraries and researchers. OA advocates know that scholarly
publishing does cost something, and are actively working on alternatives
to the broken subscription model.
so-called gold open-access model, authors are charged a fee, called the
“article processing charge,” upon acceptance of a manuscript.
This is simply
wrong. Gold open access describes OA journals that publish peer-reviewed
articles. A majority of them do not have an article processing charge (APC).
APCs are just one model of providing open access. It’s true that
predatory publishing is based on this model as a money-making scam. This
is why authors need to know something about the journals where they submit
publishers and journals do not charge fees to researchers and still make
their content freely accessible and free to read. These publishers
practice platinum open access, which is free to the authors and free to
open access must be Beall’s invention, because no one else uses this
term. Open access journals (“gold” open access) includes journals with
fees and those without fees.
variety of open-access publishing, often labeled as green open access, is
based in academic libraries…
libraries do have repositories, but it’s not accurate to say that all
(or even most) archiving is based there. There are plenty of disciplinary
repositories, and for-profit ones like Academia.edu.
open-access movement is seeking to convert these repositories into
scholarly publishing operations. The long-term goal of green open access
is to accustom authors to uploading postprints to repositories in the hope
that one day authors will skip scholarly publishers altogether.
think this, but I wouldn’t call it widespread. Most scholarly publishing
in libraries (that is, journal or monograph publishing) is a separate
operation from article archiving. And no one thinks peer review can be
skipped, which seems to be an implication here.
sometimes onerous mandates, however, many authors are reluctant to submit
their postprints to repositories.
unfortunately true, but Beall doesn’t mention that many of the
“onerous mandates” were passed unanimously by the same faculty members
who must observe them, because they became convinced of the benefits of
open access to research.
the green open-access model mostly eliminates all the value added that
scholarly publishers provide, such as copyediting and long-term digital
OA advocates agree that scholarly publishers provide value- after all,
some of them publish OA journals. But the choice of examples is odd. I’m
one of many authors who has had the experience of copy editing actually
introducing errors into my carefully composed article. And in some cases
repositories are a better bet for long-term digital preservation than
journals, which can stop publishing without a preservation plan. In short,
the value added that is claimed by many publishers is coming under
question, and rightfully so in my view.
The low quality of the work often
published under the gold and green open-access models provides startling
evidence of the value of high-quality scholarly publishing.
makes little sense. An archived (“green”) article can be of the
highest quality and may have been published in one of the prestigious
journals Beall venerates. And again, there are many well regarded open
When authors become the customers in scholarly communication, those with the least funds are effectively prevented from participating; there is a bias against the underfunded.
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