On the [GOAL] Open Access mailing list Jean-Claude Guédon makes the clear point that the continued bickering about whether Gold or Green OA is best is holding Open Access back. I agree and I go further. Here’s my diagnosis and a fairy-tale
- The OA movement is fragmented, with no clear unified objective. We (if I can count myself a member of anything) resemble the People’s Front of Judea and the Judean People’s front. Every time I am lectured on why one approach is the only one I lose energy and the movement – if it is a movement – loses credibility. Until we get a unified body that fights for our rights we are ineffective.
- Most people (especially librarians) are scared stiff of publishers and their lawyers.
- There is a huge pot of public money (tens of billions in sciences) and it’s easier to pay off the publishers than standing against them. There is no price control on publishing – publishers charge what they can get away with.
- The contract between publishers and academics has completely broken down. The Finch report, the Hargreaves process have not thrown up a single constructive suggestion from toll-access publishers
- senior people in universities don’t care enough about the problem to challenge publishers. It’s easier to put up student fees to pay the ransom. And many have accepted the Faustian bargain. (Here’s an awful example of an LSE academic who “published” a paper http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/impactofsocialsciences/2012/07/11/scholarly-publishing-broken-guerrilla-self-publishing/ only to have to wait TWO YEARS while th epubklishers typeset it. And her boss would rather NO ONE read it as long as LSE got the glory.
- Young people are disillusioned and frightened.
So here’s my fairy tale. It more likely to happen than universal green OA mandates. It’s more likely to happen than a useful amount of Gold OA. It is technically trivial (My software can do it).
- The top 20 vice-chancellors (provosts, heads of institutions) in the world meet for 2 days (obviously somewhere nice).
- They bring along a few techies (I’d go).
- They agree that they will create copies of all the papers their faculty have published. (this is trivial as they are already collecting them for REF, etc. And if they can’t , then I can provide software).
- They reformat them to non-PDF.
- They put them up on their university website.
- They prepare to fight the challenge from the publishers.
- they win the law suit. Because it’s inconceivable that a judge (except in Texas) will find for the publishers.
- Other universities will take the model and do it.
Total cost perhaps 1 million per university. It’s cheaper than running our currently empty repositories. It’s cheaper than hybrid fees.
There’s only one thing missing:
Reader in Molecular Informatics
Unilever Centre, Dep. Of Chemistry
University of Cambridge
CB2 1EW, UK