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January 18, 2006

Build Open Access on Data, Not Rumor

First published at SPARC OA Forum, 17 January 2004

Dear Colleagues,

Following two major Open Access Forums (i.e. SPARC OA Forum and American Scientists OA Forum) for more then a month I become confident that an attempt to build Open Access on one-sided discussions, poor arguments, rough estimations and feelings not supported by the strong data may discredit the Open Access.

Examples are illustrated (but not limited to) in the Am Sci OA-Forum response "What is the threshold for open access Nirvana?" by Eugene Garfield, President, The Scientist, in my recent SOAF post "How big is OA journals' readership?", and a series of posts that Open Access does not mean ones' business model of charging author or institution.

Open access became first, an irreversible technology-based intrinsic part of science-for-the-public-interest, second, a vital need for academic libraries, third, a not-for profit model for a number of low-cost independent journals, and only then ones' business model.

I call to preserve the academic ethos of Open Access by ensuring rumor-free Open Access development. As Open Access gain momentum is reached, its' further development must be evidence-based and education-based.

One of such contributions is the article by Eulalia Roel "Electronic journal publication: A new library contribution to scholarly communication" in College & Research Libraries News, January 5, 2004. The info on this article appeared on January 7, 2004 at Peter Suber's Open Access News but did not hit any of two major Open Access Forums. The article describes "how the University of Arizona library, with help from SPARC, became the publisher of the open-access Journal of Insect Science."

Another educational treasure is Peter Suber's "What you can do to help the cause of open access".

Here is the latest example of a research article on Open Access. Few days ago we all were informed about the publication at D-Lib Magazine January 2004 issue (issue TOC) article "The Cost per Article Reading of Open Access Articles" by Jonas Holmström.

D-Lib magazine author guidelines page identifies full article as the work that has been completed, ensures rigorous editorial consideration of published articles, and welcomes opinions and letters. The above adds credibility to Jonas Holmström study, provides additional grounds to respect his opinion, and highlights a need to take critically the contrary note on Jonas Holmström article (made at the SOAF post) that "It's totally missing the point of Open Access".
I would argue that a difference in opinion of a commercial publisher making Open Access a revenue source and the opinion of academic researcher indicates apparent conflict that needs further study and careful analysis.

Libraries and Institutions may also question and analyze the-publication-cost-to-revenue ratio of an Open Access article, especially, when it is published with no copy editing by a commercial Open Access Publisher in a journal run by recruited-for-no-monies group of editors (Alexei Koudinov SPARC-OA Forum Dec 26, 2003 Post 1 , Post 2 , and Post 3 ).

I believe that an aggressive mediator of evidence-based and education-based Open Access should be Academic Librarian, routing the quality information on Open Access Development to their faculty and student communities, perhaps as an (ir)regular educational newsletter.

With best wishes for Open Access,

Alexei Koudinov, MD, PhD
Neurobiology of Lipids

Competing interest declaration by A. Koudinov: I do not have any competing financial interest. I am a founding, managing and publishing editor of the Neurobiology of Lipids, an unpaid position. Neurobiology of Lipids (ISSN 1683-5506) has no affiliation with any professional association, publisher, industry member, commercial enterprise, public or government organization. The viewpoint presented in the above letter is my personal view.


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