Paris Open Access Seminar Announcement

Stevan Harnad harnad at ecs.soton.ac.uk
Fri Jan 31 07:48:22 EST 2003


This is just a brief (and partial) summary of the conference sponsored
by the French Ministry of Research on "Open Access to Scientific and
Technical Information: State of the Art and Future Trends" in Paris
23-24 January 2003 http://www.inist.fr/openaccess/en/programme.php
The powerpoints of the presentations should be available on the above
site soon. Other participants' summaries are invited (for completeness,
and impartiality!).

The meeting was quite international, although the most heavily represented
country was the host, France. A first pass at summarizing the trends
came in a position paper written by Jack Franklin prior to the conference
http://www.inist.fr/openaccess/en/etat_art.php but this was substantially
updated, extended (and corrected) by the participants during the course
of the conference itself.

The Budapest Open Access Initiative (BOAI) was given a masterly
presentation by Jean-Claude Guedon. Both of its components -- BOAI-1
(self-archiving) and BOAI-2 (open-access journals -- were also presented
(by me and by BioMed Central's Jan Velterop, respectively). In addition,
there were reports by a number of recent successful specific BOAI-1
and BOAI-2 implementations (i.e., OA Archives and OA journals), both in
France and worldwide.

There was a very large session devoted to the access and impact problems
of researchers in developing countries, including some talks (by Barbara
Kirsop, Secretary, Electronic Publishing Trust For Development and Barbara
Aronson, WHO) touching on points that have been raised in this Forum:
    "Access-Denial, Impact-Denial and the Developing and Developed World"
    http://www.ecs.soton.ac.uk/~harnad/Hypermail/Amsci/2171.html
Journal subsidies for the developing world (by publishers as well as
Foundations such as the BOAI's parent organization, George Soros's Open
Society Institute) were described.

There was (blessedly) little acrimony with publishers (represented,
among other's, by Elsevier's Pieter Bolman) as the open access movement
matures and comes to a realization that the solution to the problem of
open access will not come from blaming publishers -- indeed the
solution is not even in publishers' hands, but in the hands of
researchers, their institutions, and their research funders.

There was also the usual sample of misunderstandings and
misprepresentations of what open access is about, but I will pass
over those in silence. Fortunately, their number is shrinking, as
understanding of the open access movement, its ends and its means,
spreads. In particular, in France it seems at last to be spreading to the
heads of the distributed national research institutes (which are unique
to France, and perhaps more important in all this than the universities
themselves). The Directors General of CNRS as well as of INSERM gave
closing talks that illustrated that they have been listening to their
researchers on the problem of open access, and that substantive movement
may well be underway now in France.

Stevan Harnad




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