OA as the minimum rather than the maximum

Stevan Harnad harnad at ecs.soton.ac.uk
Mon Jun 7 15:56:16 EST 2004

As long as we're making corrections on Stephen Pincock's article in the
Scientist ("Tool allows open-access search")
Stephen cites me as follows:

    "It's thought that the approximately 1200 OA journals currently
    available make up about 5% of all scholarly journals, Harnad said.
    Another 15% allows authors to deposit their articles in OA archives,
    meaning altogether that articles from about 20% of journals are
    available in OA of some description."

That the 1200 OA journals are 5% of all peer-reviewed journals is
correct. That there is 15% OA self-archiving is also correct. But that 15%
of journals "allows (sic) authors" to self-archive is incorrect. (Stephen
goes on to correct this later by stating, correctly, that it is 80% of
journals that have given their green light so far.) It is also incorrect
that 20% of journals are availaible in OA: It is 20% of *articles*
(i.e., 5% + 15%) for which OA has so far been provided. Just 80% 
left to go...


Stevan Harnad

On Mon, 7 Jun 2004, Peter Suber wrote:

> In an article in today's issue of _The Scientist_ Stephen Pincock quotes me 
> on the benefits of article-level searching now offered by the DOAJ.  See 
> his article at
> http://www.biomedcentral.com/news/20040607/01
> He quotes me accurately and I'm happy with the result.  But some of you 
> might think that one of the quotations is inflammatory, so I'm taking this 
> opportunity to explain and elaborate.
> Pincock quotes me as follows:
> >There's a common misunderstanding that making content open access 
> >maximizes its visibility and usefulness.  It doesn't.  Open access brings 
> >us to a major plateau of visibility and usefulness, but it's closer to the 
> >minimum than the maximum of what we should expect in the digital age.
> Did I mean that OA is not as useful or important as I've been saying all 
> these years?  Not at all.  I only meant that once content is OA, we can 
> still do a lot to make it even more visible and useful.  DOAJ article-level 
> searching is a good example.  By making a large number of OA articles 
> searchable from the same box, and omitting all other content, it creates 
> efficiencies that will definitely help researchers.  Although the articles 
> are already OA, this service will enhance their visibility in two ways:  by 
> making them easier to find, and by attracting researchers to a place where 
> they are to be found.
> Here are some other examples of improving the visibility and usefulness of 
> content that is already OA:
> * The decision by a university (or PubMed Central) to make its OA 
> repository interoperable with other OA repositories through the OAI 
> metadata harvesting protocol
> * Elsevier's decision to index arXiv and other OA content in Scirus
> * EBSCO's decision to aggregate OA journals alongside conventional journals
> * The decision by most OA journals to offer email-based current awareness
> * The Public Library of Science's decision to use Creative Commons 
> machine-readable licenses
> * BioMed Central's decision to use RSS feeds to supplement web-based 
> dissemination
> * Yahoo and Google's decisions to start indexing OAI-compliant repositories
> One of the primary benefits of OA is that it makes OA literature available 
> for all kinds of further processing --for searching, indexing, mining, 
> alerting, summarizing, translating, and connecting.  There are no limits to 
> these enhancements except the limits on intelligent software.  OA is one of 
> the first steps on this journey, the precondition of most of the rest, not 
> the final destination.
> OA is only the destination in the sense that once we provide it, we can 
> take a well-earned rest, knowing that others can come along later and add 
> new layers of usefulness retroactively, without asking anyone's permission, 
> whenever they have a good idea and figure out how to implement it.
> As I put it in October 2002,
> >In this sense, the true promise of [open access] is not that scientific 
> >and scholarly texts will be free and online for reading, copying, 
> >printing, and so on, but that they will be available as free online data 
> >for software that acts as the antennae, prosthetic eyeballs, research 
> >assistants, and personal librarians of all serious researchers.
> http://ts.mivu.org/default.asp?show=article&id=1025
>       Peter
> ----------
> Peter Suber
> Research Professor of Philosophy, Earlham College
> Open Access Project Director, Public Knowledge
> Author, SPARC Open Access Newsletter
> Editor, Open Access News blog
> http://www.earlham.edu/~peters/
> peter.suber at earlham.edu

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