[Humanist] 26.899 open access?

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Fri Mar 22 07:19:22 CET 2013

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 26, No. 899.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Thu, 21 Mar 2013 07:51:27 +0100
        From: Marin Dacos <marin.dacos at openedition.org>
        Subject: Who is afraid of open access ?

Dear colleagues,

The French newspaper Le Monde has published a public statement, signed by
sixty members of the academic community (Presidents of universities,
Librarians, Journals, publishers and researchers) under the title "Who is
afraid of open access ?". The original paper is here :

More than 1500 people already signed this statement, calling for open
access as fast as possible and asking for HSS taking leadership in this
direction. It is now available in English :

You can sign it : http://iloveopenaccess.org/?page_id=329

Best regards,
Marin Dacos
Director - OpenEdition

Arguments for Open Access to Research Results

*This text was first published on 15 March 2013 in Le
by sixty professionals belonging to the community of higher education and
research: university presidents, directors of several Maisons des Sciences
de l’Homme, publishers, representatives of journals, representatives of
university libraries, professors and researchers. The call is open to
everyone: engineers, scholars, students, information professionals,
librarians, journalists, etc.*

In July 2012, the European Commission issued a
recommendation <http://ec.europa.eu/research/science-society/document_library/pdf_06/era-communication-towards-better-access-to-scientific-information_fr.pdf>
on Open Access (i.e. free for the readers) publication of the results of
publicly funded scientific research. The Commission believes that such a
measure is necessary to increase the visibility of European research before
2020, by gradually suppressing the barriers between readers and scientific
papers, after a possible embargo period from six to twelve months. Latin
America has been benefiting from this approach for ten years after the
development of powerful platforms for Open Access journals. Scielo and
Redalyc, which together host almost 2000 journals, have considerably
increased their visibility thanks to their Open Access policy: the
Brazilian portalScielo  http://www.scielo.org/  now has more traffic than
the US-based JSTOR  http://www.jstor.org/ . Such examples show that Open
Access changes the balance of power in a world dominated by groups which
hold thousands of (mostly English-language) journals: it paves the way to
what could be called a real “bibliodiversity”, since it enables the
emergence of a plurality of viewpoints, modes of publication, scientific
paradigms, and languages.

Some French editors of journals in the Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS)
have expressed their concern with regard to this recommendation, which they
saw as a threat to a vulnerable business model. However, a thorough
assessment of the sector would be required to provide a true cost-benefit
analysis: one should shed light on its funding sources and modes, both
direct and indirect, public and private, and determine the roles the
various actors play in this field, pinpointing the added value brought
about by each of them.

To be afraid of Open Access is, in our eyes, to commit oneself to a narrow
– and in fact erroneous – vision of the future. If the HSS were set aside
in a specific “reservation” today, they would become isolated and would
ultimately become extinct. On the contrary, we think that the HSS can be at
the forefront of this opening movement, precisely because there is an
increasing social demand for their research results (we estimate the
overall traffic on Cairn, OpenEdition, Erudit and Persée to be around 10
million visits per month!). The fears voiced by our friends and colleagues
are largely groundless in this respect. Not only is the share of sales made
outside of higher education and research institutions very small in the
business models of HSS journals, which remain mostly directly or indirectly
funded by public money, but there exist new business models capable of
reinforcing the position of publishers without having the authors pay, as
is demonstrated by the success of the Freemium programme developed by
OpenEdition, a French initiative. Solutions to finance a high-quality open
digital publication system are being invented and have started to prove
their efficiency  http://www.doaj.org/ , as in the cases of
Scielo http://www.scielo.org/ ,
the Public Library of Science (PLOS  http://www.plos.org/ ),
Redalyc http://redalyc.uaemex.mx/
 or OpenEdition  http://www.openedition.org/ . It would be a disaster if
the HSS were kept aside from this powerful and innovative movement which is
bound to reshape our scientific landscape. Far from backing off, they must
be among the leading disciplines in this movement, as they are in the
Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking countries. The resistance to this
evolution advocated by some of our colleagues seems to be a short-term
strategy neglecting the potential benefits for science and education, as
well as the democratisation of access to knowledge it will enable.

According to us, this is not only an economic and commercial problem.
Although the existence of an Elsevier-Springer-Wiley
exerts heavy pressure on university budgets and although the funding system of
academic publishing should be rethought, generalised Open Access is first
and foremost a matter of scientific policy<http://couperin.sciencesconf.org/>.
Knowledge cannot be treated as a commodity and its dissemination is more
than ever a vital concern in our societies: we can work towards a
revolutionary democratisation of access to research results. Knowledge
behind barriers, which only the happy few working in the richest
universities can access, is barren knowledge. It is confiscated, though
produced thanks to public funding. In this debate, higher education and
research institutions have akey role to
The diffusion of knowledge and research results, their spreading among an
audience as large as possible, is one of the missions of these
institutions. Therefore a relevant scientific policy has to build public
digital infrastructures, but  also needs to support innovative publishing
policies aimed at fostering cross-disciplinary exchanges, new forms of
writing, multilingualism and the broadest diffusion.

Who is afraid of Open Access? Private access policies hinder the
dissemination of ideas and is ill-suited to the new paradigms introduced by
digital media. It is high time that we considered the Web as a unique
opportunity in terms of innovation, the diffusion of knowledge and the
emergence of new ideas.

We are not afraid of Open Access. To take knowledge out of silos and beyond
the boundaries of academic campuses is to open knowledge to everyone,
acknowledge that it has a pivotal role to play in our societies and open up
perspectives for collective growth.

Do not be afraid of Open Access! It is now possible to establish a new
scientific, publishing and business contract between researchers,
publishers, libraries and readers in order to enter for good a society of
shared, democratic knowledge.
*Sign it!*  http://iloveopenaccess.org/sign-it/

Marin Dacos - http://www.openedition.org
Director - Centre for Open Electronic Publishing

** OpenEdition is now a Facility of
Excellence http://www.openedition.org/10221?lang=en
* *(Equipex) **
** New email : marin.dacos at openedition.org **

CNRS - EHESS - Aix-Marseille Université (AMU) - Université d'Avignon
3, place Victor Hugo, Case n°86, 13331 Marseille Cedex 3 - France
Tél : 04 13 55 03 40 Tél. direct : 04 13 55 03 39 Fax : 04 13 55 03 41
Skype : marin.dacos - Gmail video chat : marin.dacos at gmail.com
Twitter : http://twitter.com/#!/marindacos

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