---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Thu, 14 Feb 2002 09:24:16 -0500
From: Melissa Hagemann <mhagemann at sorosny.org>
To: "'bmanifesto at yahoogroups.com'" <bmanifesto at yahoogroups.com>
Subject: [Manifesto] UPI 2/14/02: Soros backs academic rebels
Copyright 2002 U.P.I.
United Press International
February 14, 2002, Thursday 07:49 AM Eastern Time
SECTION: FINANCIAL NEWS
LENGTH: 1207 words
HEADLINE: Soros backs academic rebels
An international group of scientists and academics, supported by
Hungarian-American billionaire George Soros, is calling on scholars
around the world to free their research from the control of for-profit,
The so-called "Budapest Open Access Initiative" calls on scholars to
post their work on the Internet and to create alternative, Web-based
journals available for free to all researchers.
Backing from Soros's Open Society Institute will amount to $1 million a
year for three years, Darius Cuplinskas, society spokesman, said. The
money will be used to find new ways of publishing scholarly literature
while maintaining its quality and making it freely available to all, he
"Having something like the Soros Foundation backing us says to the
world this is real, this is not just a bunch of idealistic, naive
scientists running around," said University of California genomics
professor Michael Eisen.
Eisen is one of the founders of the Public Library of Science, a group
trying to start Web-based, free journals dealing with the life
sciences. Under their plan, the costs of reviewing, formatting and
posting a paper would be borne by the author, as one of the costs of
doing research. The cost per published paper would probably be roughly
$300, Eisen said.
Currently, most research appears in printed journals, many privately
owned and available only by subscription. The cost of such journals,
Eisen said, creates "an impediment to the free and open exchange of
Universities and other research institutions currently can afford only
a fraction of the roughly 20,000 scholarly journals published around
the world every year, said philosopher Peter Suber, one of the
architects of the Budapest plan and a professor at Earlham College in
Unlike most writers, researchers are not paid for published work, Suber
said, and neither are the academic reviewers -- dubbed "peer reviewers"
-- who must approve manuscripts for publication.
"A lot of people are donating their labor and their intellectual property,"
he said, "but the readers aren't getting it for free."
Aside from creating Web-based journals, the Budapest plan calls for
academics to "self-archive" their work, according to cognitive
scientist Stevan Harnad of Southampton University in UK and the University of
Quebec in Montreal, who is the main proponent of the idea. Under that
system, researchers would submit their work to journals as usual, but
as well they would post the peer-reviewed final version on special
university-run Websites. "That would give open access right away,"
While some journals are relatively inexpensive, the cost and number
have steadily been rising, according to Graham Bradshaw of the
University of Toronto library. One of the most expensive, he said, is
Brain Research, from the Dutch publishing house of Elsevier Science --
a 2002 subscription costs libraries $18,578.
Despite spending nearly $5 million a year on journals, "we haven't been
able to acquire all of the things we should have," Bradshaw said.
It's possible for journals to keep costs down, said Jeffrey Drazen,
editor of the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, which costs
$140 a year but is free to physicians and researchers in the Third
Drazen said his journal offers a valuable service to readers, sorting
through thousands of research submissions, professional editors work
with academic reviewers to make sure the published papers are accurate
"We don't just take what the author sends us," he said. Subscribers
"pay us to filter out what is important," Drazen said.
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