(draft) thoughts on OA

/rough cut ideas, probably repeating other people/

The last few days, I’ve been at ACRL 2015, which is one of my favorite library conferences – largely focused on topics that are relevant to my day-to-day work, and a solid size: big but not enormous.

At any rate, there were a number of talks on open access that I went to, ¬†including Lessig’s barnburner of a closing keynote. So I’ve been thinking about OA. Including these questions:

  • We tell authors to keep track of their author contracts/agreements for whether they support OA, and have sort of built systems to advise on these, but shouldn’t we take a lesson from all our work on research data and actually give out practical advice and/or tools to do this for new researchers? I mean, I know better, and I don’t know what I did with my last author contract (which I know allowed OA after one year, but when did I sign it? when did that article get published, exactly?) Assuming that most authors are, like me, always pressed and disorganized, how can we make this easy?
  • How much would it cost to build a pay-up-front publish all you want conference infrastructure, like PeerJ, but for conferences? I’m thinking about how ACM works. They publish many hundreds of conferences, which means taking preformatted pdfs that the conference submits and putting them in the ACM digital library (and providing the template for the article). I know that’s how it works, because I ran an ACM conference and provided the papers. The peer review and metadata collection was on the conference’s end. We’ve got the Open Conference System, which is pretty good, ¬†but I think there could be an end to end solution. For that matter, I think ACM itself could implement this without much trouble. Right now ACM affiliation for individual one-off conferences is granted by the SIGs, who take the responsibility for making sure it’s a real conference, and pass that info on to ACM HQ. That process could continue, to ensure reputational integrity, but the conference could pay in a publication fee ($500? $1000? Size-dependent?) for each conference, and then everything published could be open access. The same could be true for the big flagship conferences, too. I don’t know how IEEE and the other big distributed societies work, but I assume it’s similar. In other words, don’t make it about the authors at all — make it a venue-provided fee, since everything is about the venues anyway.
  • Speaking of the authors, don’t make it about the authors anywhere. Pay-to-play I think won’t behoove us in the long run, though there are ways to make it better: everyone should have PLoS’s policy of no questions asked waivers, and the fact that not every venue does is an artifact of the wild-west times we live in. There’s some studies about this in the works, including one at UC Davis, but I think we can step back and think about the ethics of it from an inclusionary scholarly communication point of view. So where does the money come from? Right now, funders and universities, or for science, funders via universities. Why can’t that simply go directly into publishing? Skip the multiple transfers, which would make the whole process more inefficient.
  • So what about creating independent journals and publication venues? There is in fact no law that says you can’t ask for funding and have OA articles. Nothing about open licenses or anything else prevents this, except perhaps an aversion to paying for “free” things. But for small amounts of money that are essentially donations towards a project, libraries as large as mine would probably be willing to continue to pay. (Think about: ArXiv funding.) What we’re not willing to pay forever? the million-dollar bills for packages to commercial publishers.
  • The fact that the library literature itself still isn’t totally open is dumb, and gives our profession no particular moral standing. Let’s fix that. A simple boycott / editor strike would take care of several of the commercial journals. JASIS&T, LJ & the rest are on the related societies. And those of us who write need to insist.

What else?

This entry was posted in librariana. Bookmark the permalink.