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    Location: Aberystwyth, Wales, United Kingdom

    I am the owner and managing director of Information Automation Limited (IAL), a company that specialises in research, consultancy and training for the information profession. We are particularly interested in all forms of electronic information resources (e-journals, e-books, etc) and I teach a course in electronic publishing at the Department of Information Studies in Aberystwyth. Drilling down still further(!), my interests centre on the quality and evaluation of electronic information, and in the thinking that underpins activities in library and information science.


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    Friday, September 21, 2007

    The Open Access Debate Revisited

    I have always worried about the logic behind the push for open access repositories, while supporting the principle. Clearly, it is desirable to have access to scholarly literature either free or at a reasonable price, and clearly this can be achieved through institutional or subject repositories. Less clear is whether this will bring down (as has been suggested in the past) the price of journals, or whether these repositories are, or will become, a useful and seriously-used resource.

    My worries centred (and centre) on version control and authority - the two fundamental and incontrovertible benefits of formal, journal-based, scholarly publishing. To have an article published in a peer-review and possibly ISI-badged journal is to mark it as worthy, meritorious and accepted by the author's peers; at the same time, it becomes - without question - the copy of record: it IS the published version, and thus the version to which others refer and which they cite. Because multiple versions can be deposited in multiple repositories, open access poses problems; the publisher's imprimatur is missing - or at least, obscure. Clearly, as repositories bed down, these issues can be assessed and dealt with, and the JISC already have underway a project to examine the issues around version control, although if the methodology posted on the JISC website is the result, it is too simplistic.

    DigitalKoans reported that
    The leaked text of Eric Dezenhall's anti-open-access proposal to the Association of American Publishers has been made available as part of a NewScientist article by Jim Giles, who broke the Dezenhall story in January.
    ... and it is not surprising that he makes the same points, I suppose - the publishing industry genuinely adds value in the production of scientific journals; "peer-reviewed journals are the only reliable source for sound science."

    He goes on to list strategies and six tactics for - it is not quite clear, but probably a coalition against open access. An interesting read, and one of which all those who support open access should be aware.

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