Discipline Differences - Peter Suber


In this material, I am only looking at information pertinent to Science.

The purpose of this list is to, "answer the question, "Why won't we make progress toward open access in all disciplines at the same rate?"

Point 4: In some (the sciences), journal literature is the primary literature, while in others (the humanities) journal literature only reports on the history and interpretation of the primary literature, which lies in books. This is an important distinction, I think.

Point 5: In some fields, both truth and money are at stake in the results reported in scholarly literature, while in others, only truth is at stake. This is certainly true in Science where NSF and NIH funding is at stake.

Point 6: In some fields (some of the sciences), most published research is funded, while in others (the humanities and many sciences) very little is. Again, this is an important distinction, as tech comm people may not realize the impact of OA scholarship in terms of funding.

Point 7: In some disciplines (the sciences), the cost of research is greater than the cost of publication, while in others (the humanities), the reverse is true. Again, an important distinction.

Point 8: In some disciplines (the sciences), the demand for articles drops off more sharply after they are published, while in others (the humanities) it declines slowly and sometimes even grows. This affects whether a journal would lose subscribers and revenue by offering open access after an embargo period of a certain length. This is an interesting point.

Point 10: In some fields (the humanities), nearly all publishing researchers are employed by universities, while in others (the sciences) the fraction is significantly smaller. That, too, is interesting. In the humanities, journal articles are generally used to write other journal articles. In Science, journal articles are used to solve problems.

Point 14: In some fields, research will be impeded if access to journal literature is not timely, while in others timeliness matters much less. This is true for Science, and, I believe, the reason why OA is so very important.

Point 18: In some fields (like medicine) many journals still use the Inglefinger Rule, which tends to inhibit preprint archiving. Most fields that once used the rule have stopped using it. Yes; this is problematic.

Point 20: Some fields are small enough (in practitioners and journals) that nearly every researcher has university-subsidized access to nearly every journal in the field (astrophysics is an example), while in larger fields (like biology) even researchers at wealthy universities don't have access to a significant range of the literature in their field. This is true for science, and is anotehr reason to support OA.

Point 21: In some fields, mostly in the sciences, journal impact factors are well known and important in author decisions about where to submit work and university evaluations of faculty. In some fields, esp. in the humanities, they are not. This is true.

In the section about "Incomplete realizations of Open Access," Peter says, "By incomplete realizations of open access I mean steps in the right direction that do not go all the way, half-measures, compromises, or hybrid models that only partially fulfill the promise of open access. From one point of view, they count as progress and deserve support. From another point of view, they attempt to satisfy users with something less adequate and thereby delay true open access. Many journals that take these steps are experimenting and over time take further steps toward full open access." This is an important defining step for my research since I want to look at the "half measures" to determine how rhetoric can solve this problem of disparate defintion. His call, likewise, asks "that friends of open access will (1) advocate full open access and do what they can to implement it, (2) encourage experimentation for those not yet willing to implement it, and (3) praise steps that make access easier and wider even if they stop short of full open access." He lists 20 variations of the OA model indicating that full acceptance of one model is not yet understood. The question, of course, is whether or not there should be a standard model?

In the section, "Journal declarations of independence," Peter lists various journals that have gone the way of OA. Of the 14 listed, 5 are science related.

He lists 10 OAI compliant archives and 2 non-OAI compliant archives.

He collects a nice list of OA policy statements; I am linking to the ones dealing with Science for future study (to compare and contrast them).

American Physical Society. The copyright transfer agreement the APS uses with its journals, allowing authors to post articles to eprint servers. February 2001.

The Geological Society. The policy that applies to all of its journals.

ICSU-UNESCO. ICSU = International Council for Science. UNESCO = United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

Institute of Physics. See paragraphs 3.1 and 3.2.

International Union of Pure and Applied Physics. July 2001 Report of an IUPAP working group on scholarly communication. Recommendations, not yet policy. Also see the report on a subsequent November meeting which adopted steps toward the realization of the July recommendations.

Medical Library Association. October 2003 statement of policy.

For policy statements by journal publishers, see the list at the Self-Archiving FAQ and Project SHERPA.

He then lists various colleges and university examples of cancellations of journal subscriptions due to the high costs. Most are from California, but Harvard, MIT, Cornell, Columbia, and Stanford are on the list.

He then offers steps for people to take; I am going to look at Next Steps for the Science Community and see if the bridge can be made there between OSS and OAS. http://www.earlham.edu/~peters/fos/do.htm#faculty