Saturday, January 24, 2009

Blogging from Midwinter -- 2

Saturday was open access day for me.

SCOAP3 is an emerging Open Access (OA) project. In which the money previously directed to publishers for High Energy Physics (HEP) journal subscriptions is redirected to SCOAP3 (at CERN) which then negotiates with publishers for peer review costs and the publishers agree to provide open access the resulting articles. Libraries initially pay the same money,in the future they may pay less.
Sounds wacky to me. It depends on the fact that authors of HEP articles are placing their research in and readers are reading them there. The only value provided by the publishers is as organizers of peer-review and as the final standard archive for authors, Promotion & Tenure (P&T) committees, funding agencies, etc.
It may work in a highly organized field of scholarly communication like HEP,but I doubt it is model for many others. Ultimately you have to ask yourself, if no one is reading the final journals why are we publishing them? Why not take the money and instead of transferring it to publishers,just organize the peer review yourselves? After all, the HEP researchers at CERN and elsewhere are the heart of the peer review system. The publishers are just managers and paper pushers. Also the journals' role as standards and archives has been built up over many decades because they are read. They are the way this scholarly community communicates. If that is no longer true then P&T committees etc. will eventually look elsewhere (e.g. for evidence of quality. Why not speed the process along?

Later in the day I was at the SPARC Forum on the OEM (Open Education Movement) think of this as OA to textbooks, syllabi, course materials, etc. Here are some links that might interest you:

The Cape Town Declaration

Flat World knowledge
Open Courseware at MIT
Make Textbooks Affordable. A PIRG that works to make textbooks more affordable.

All interesting stuff and worth a look.

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