[Coral-List] More on open access

RainbowWarriorsInternational southern_caribbean at yahoo.com
Thu Apr 17 20:06:25 EDT 2008

Peer review is indeed very necessary, but that does not justify the publishers getting richer and richer and the publishing of more and more specialized journals and periodicals falling in the hands of fewer and fewer global media and publishing conglomerates.
 Most of the global publishing powerhouses now around did not start out as journal publishers but bought up the highly profitable scientific journal and publication publishing houses.
 There is an ongoing global concentration of publishing across the board and across media types and across areas of interest.
 Scientific journals and specialty publications are cash cows for media conglomerates.
 Why would a software giant like Microsoft be hell-bent on teaming up with The News Corporation, a global conglomerate of cable and satellite tv networks, radio stations, motion picture production and distribution, publishing of newspapers, magazines AND scientific journals and specialty publications.
 How many scientists and researchers are aware of and actually bothered by the fact that some conglomerates have virtual control over most commercial conferences, exhibits, publication of proceedings from annual and other periodic congresses, conferences etc. of scientific bodies (associations, fields of research etc.), and even the way these are printed and made available online?
 It is a frightening prospect that eventually the best journals will fall into the hands of tycoons who are only interested in the bottom line, quarterly reports to the shareholders and maximizing profitability.
 The Yearbook of International Organizations of global NGOs published by the Union of International Associations lists over 30,000 organizations active in about 300 countries and territories, including our organization.
 Most of these organizations have budgets for research which include budgets for subscriptions to journals and online access, but access to public and academic libraries with a large volume of works and periodicals is available mostly in developed countries.
 An additional pain is caused as indicated by another subscriber to this list by the fact that purchase of online access to academic information is bound to payment methods requiring credit cards issued in currencies such as the US dollar, UK pound sterling or euro by internationally accepted banks.
 So even in the "elite" group of international NGOS all animals are NOT equal.
 The picture down the food chain of regional and local NGOs is even grimmer.
 When we get down to individual students, researchers etc. around the globe, the disparity is even greater.
 It is a farce to think that the Internet is the great equalizer, yes the Internet in theory makes free information equally accessible to all users across the world, not taking into consideration restrictions imposed for political reasons.
  The world of pricey quality research and academic information online is NOT equally accessible to all.
 And the global media conglomerates and publishing houses would very much like to maintain this status quo.
 More scientists and researchers are alive right now today on planet Earth than in all of of mankind;s history combined, yet we maintain a publishing paradigm for the scientific community that would be OK for the late nineteenth, early twentieth century.
 We can maintain the same standard of (peer) review, publication and so forth, yet the cost of making this information available online, as a viable alternative for those who have no adequate access to academic or public libraries,needs to come down drastically.
 It is a point made over and over by the UN and its constituent specialized bodies dealing with education, science and technology and ICT for empowerment of developing countries.
 Once the scientific community realizes  that it has a role to play in this process change will come as market forces will be called into play.
 I rest my case.
 Milton Ponson
 Rainbow Warriors Core Foundation
 a global NGO dedicated to sustainable development

"Szmant, Alina" <szmanta at uncw.edu> wrote: Peer-review, and the need to discriminate well done studies from shoddy
work is the reason journals are needed.  There are a number of great
society journals that do not charge an arm and a leg to publish one's
article (e.g. ISRS and Coral Reefs).  They do charge members for the
journals and a higher but usually affordable price to libraries.  The
issue is that these society journals can't absorb all of the worthy
articles submitted by our ever increasing scientific community, and thus
researchers resort to for-profit journals with higher publication
capacity and faster publication rates (which cost big money to produce).

The bigger issue I think is that people now want the convenience of
sitting in their family room down-loading articles at will without any
cost. I can do that to a large extent through my university's library
subscriptions, but many folks don't have that luxury.  Those people will
need to go to a local university library and make copies of the articles
out of the hard-copies of the journal, buy the articles from on-line
sources, or get someone who has access to the pdfs to email the article
to them.  

Publishing has always been a money-making business, since the middle
ages when these trades came about.  I don't see that changing now.   In
North Carolina and elsewhere, universities band together to share the
cost of electronic journals.  I suggest this strategy could be used to
provide wider access to electronic journal resources to different user
groups around the world. 

Dr. Alina M. Szmant
Coral Reef Research Group
UNCW-Center for Marine Science 
5600 Marvin K. Moss Ln
Wilmington NC 28409
Tel: (910)962-2362 & Fax:  (910)962-2410
Cell:  (910)200-3913
email:  szmanta at uncw.edu
Web Page:  http://people.uncw.edu/szmanta

-----Original Message-----
From: coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
[mailto:coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov] On Behalf Of Paul Muir
Sent: Monday, April 14, 2008 8:00 PM
To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
Subject: Re: [Coral-List] More on open access

It's always been one of the great mysteries to me -  researchers spend
their lives and often a small fortune to produce articles which they
then give to commercial operators (ie journals) for free. The journals
then get these articles reviewed and edited by other researchers for
free, add some advertising and print the stuff, charging other
researchers the earth to read it!  
I guess it costs to print and distribute hard copy journals but when you
see the prices journals charge for subscriptions, even e-subscriptions,
it seems that publishing must be a great business?!  You do wonder why
researchers don't cut the commercial operators out of the loop,
particularly when the web is such a great way of reaching a huge
audience for free without the limitations of a printed page. 
Dr. Paul Muir
Museum of Tropical Queensland,
78-104 Flinders St,
Townsville QLD 4810 Australia.
ph 07 47 260 642 fax 07 47 212 093 
* if no reply or problems sending try paularwen at gmail.com 
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