Written evidence for Science and Technology Committee's Inquiry into Scientific Publications

Stevan Harnad harnad at ecs.soton.ac.uk
Wed Dec 10 10:09:09 EST 2003


Written evidence for:

The Science and Technology Committee's Inquiry into Scientific Publications
http://www.parliament.uk/parliamentary_committees/science_and_technology_committee.cfm

The House of Commons Press Notice says:

>           The Committee will be looking at access to journals within
>           the scientific community, with particular reference to
>           price and availability. It will be asking what measures
>           are being taken in government, the publishing industry and
>           academic institutions to ensure that researchers, teachers
>           and students have access to the publications they need in
>           order to carry out their work effectively....
>
>           What are the consequences of increasing numbers of open-access
>           journals, for example for the operation of the Research
>           Assessment Exercise and other selection processes? Should
>           the Government support such a trend and, if so, how?

There are today 24,000 research journals (across all disciplines and
languages, worldwide) publishing about 2,500,000 articles per year. There
are currently about 600 open-access journals http://www.doaj.org/
publishing about 75,000 articles per year. 

What about access to the 2,425,000 articles for which there exists no
suitable open-access journal today? Should researchers wait for 23,400
more open-access journals to be created one by one? It's likely to be
a long, long wait!

Yet there is another way to provide open access, immediately, and that
is for the authors of those 2,425,000 articles in those 23,400 journals
to self-archive them on their own institution's website. That will
make them all open-access overnight. There are already three times as
many articles that are made open-access yearly through self-archiving
than through open-access publishing today. And fifty-five percent of
the 24,000 journals, though not yet ready to take the risk of becoming
open-access journals, are ready to serve the interests of research and
researchers by formally supporting self-archiving by their authors;
many of the remaining 45% of journals will also agree if asked:
http://www.lboro.ac.uk/departments/ls/disresearch/romeo/Romeo%20Publisher%20Policies.

So why is the Science and Technology Committee inquiry into scientific
publications considering only open access journals, rather than also
considering, at least as seriously, mandating university-based provision of
open access to their own (peer-reviewed, published) research output?

The (UK portion of) at least 1,250,000 articles could be made
open-access overnight. The longer we wait, the longer and bigger will be
our growing daily, weekly, monthly and yearly loss of research impact
because of access-denial to would-be users worldwide. (336% impact
loss, according to Lawrence in Nature 2001): This represents a needless
cumulative loss of research progress and productivity for researchers,
their institutions, their funders, and ultimately for the tax-payers
who fund the funders.
http://www.ecs.soton.ac.uk/~harnad/Temp/openaccess.htm 

    Harnad, S., Carr, L., Brody, T. & Oppenheim, C. (2003) Mandated
    online RAE CVs Linked to University Eprint Archives: Improving the
    UK Research Assessment Exercise whilst making it cheaper and easier.
    Ariadne.  http://www.ecs.soton.ac.uk/~harnad/Temp/Ariadne-RAE.htm

    Harnad, S. (2003) Measuring and Maximising UK Research
    Impact. Times Higher Education Supplement. Friday, June 6 2003.
    http://www.ecs.soton.ac.uk/~harnad/Temp/thes.html

    Lawrence, S. (2001) Online or Invisible? Nature 411 (6837): 521.
    http://www.neci.nec.com/~lawrence/papers/online-nature01/

Stevan Harnad                     harnad at cogsci.soton.ac.uk
Professor of Cognitive Science    
Department of Electronics and     phone: +44 23-80 592-582
             Computer Science     fax:   +44 23-80 592-865
University of Southampton         http://www.ecs.soton.ac.uk/~harnad/
Highfield, Southampton            
SO17 1BJ UNITED KINGDOM           

> SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY COMMITTEE
>         HOUSE OF COMMONS PRESS NOTICE

> Committee Office, House of Commons, No. 7 Millbank, London SW1P 3JA
> Tel. Nos. 020 7219 2793-2794 (Fax. No. - 0896) email: scitechcom at parliament.uk

> No. 3 of Session 2003-04, dated 10 December 2003

> NEW INQUIRY

> Scientific Publications

> The Science and Technology Committee is to conduct an inquiry into
scientific publications.

> The Committee will be looking at access to journals within
the scientific community, with particular reference to price and
availability. It will be asking what measures are being taken in
government, the publishing industry and academic institutions to ensure
that researchers, teachers and students have access to the publications
they need in order to carry out their work effectively. The inquiry will
also examine the impact that the current trend towards e-publishing may
have on the integrity of journals and the scientific process.

> The Committee is inviting written evidence on the following points:

> *       What impact do publishers' current policies on pricing and
provision of scientific journals, particularly "big deal schemes",
have on libraries and the teaching and research communities they serve?

> *       What action should Government, academic institutions and
publishers be taking to promote a competitive market in scientific
publications?

> *       What are the consequences of increasing numbers of open-access
journals, for example for the operation of the Research Assessment
Exercise and other selection processes? Should the Government support
such a trend and, if so, how?

> *       How effectively are the Legal Deposit Libraries making available
non-print scientific publications to the research community, and what
steps should they be taking in this respect?

> *       What impact will trends in academic journal publishing have
on the risks of scientific fraud and malpractice?

> The Committee would welcome written evidence from interested
organisations and individuals addressing these points. Evidence should
be submitted by Thursday 12 February 2003. The oral evidence sessions
will begin in March.

> In announcing the inquiry, the Chairman of the Committee, Ian Gibson MP,
said "Journals are at the heart of the scientific process. Researchers,
teachers and students must have easy access to scientific publications at
a fair price. Scientific journals need to maintain their credibility and
integrity as they move into the age of e-publication. The Committee will
have some very tough questions for publishers, libraries and government
on these issues."

> Evidence should be sent in hard copy to the Clerk of the Science
and Technology Committee, 7 Millbank, London SW1P 3JA.  Please
send an electronic version also, in Word format, via e-mail to
scitechcom at parliament.uk or on disk.  Guidance on the submission of
evidence can be found at www.parliament.uk/commons/selcom/witguide.htm

> Further information on the work of the Committee can be obtained from
Committee staff on 020 7219 2793/4.

> Previous press notices and publications are
available on the Committee's internet homepage:
www.parliament.uk/parliamentary_committees/science_and_technology_committee.cfm


> Notes for Editors 

> ˇ       Under the terms of Standing Order No. 152 the Committee is
empowered to examine the expenditure, policy and administration of the
Office of Science and Technology and its associated public bodies at . The
Committee was appointed on 12 November 2001.






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