29 Oct 2007

Conversion to open access

Stevan Harnad is arguing again that conversion of journals to open access is a distraction to self-archiving, which he believes will more quickly and broadly deliver open access.

He suggests that publishers face a 'Prisoner's Dilemma' in converting from toll access to open access. The prisoner's dilemma is when two prisoners are being interrogated. If both stay quiet and refuse to implicate each other, they may get a short sentence. This is an example of 'honour among thieves'. If one implicates the other, they will get let free and the other will be punished. But if each implicates the other, both get severely punished. While I can see how Game Theory in general is worth invoking in this debate, I cannot see how the Prisoner's Dilemma translates to journal publishing strategies. Maybe I'm just being slow.

I don't believe that open choice options bring the major conflicts that Stevan describes. While I much prefer full open access journals, a transition to open access via open choice means that journals maintain a stable source of income. The alternative of shifting to open access only by mandating self-archiving creates an unstable situation in which journals may face widespread cancellations from libraries, without having set in place the alternative models needed once you cannot charge your readers (article processing charges, advertising, volunteerism or grants). Peter Suber, as ever, has written on this extensively, so I won't repeat all of this in depth.

Among publishers who are converting to open access, Oxford Journals deserve being singled out for praise. Not only do they already have several fully open access journals, but their Oxford Open scheme is transparent and well advertised. What is more, they are actively adjusting the subscription charges on their online journals based on the income they are receiving from the Oxford Open option. They are an excellent example of the way that publishers can adjust to the open access revolution.

1 comment:

yis said...

I don't believe that open choice options bring the major conflicts that Stevan describes. (www.oynadoyma.com)