September 15, 2006

Excerpted from Scott Jaschik's article "Momentum for Open Access Research" in the September 6 edition of Inside Higher Ed:

[...] Now the presidents of 53 liberal arts colleges ­ at the behest of their librarians ­ are issuing a joint letter backing the [Federal Public Research Access Act] legislation. And while it is unlikely that the bill will pass this year, the new letter that was released Tuesday is part of a broader effort by open access supporters to place higher education in a new position when the debate is renewed next year.


The letter from the liberal arts college presidents is straightforward. It says that their institutions can’t afford rising journal prices, that their faculties and students want more access to journals than the institutions can provide, and that liberal arts colleges play a key role in producing future Ph.D.’s, so their exposure to journals matters. Oberlin is among many liberal arts colleges with unusually high percentages of graduates who go on to earn doctorates.


[Diane Graves, university librarian at Trinity University, in Texas] said that in five years in her position, her library has received “generous? overall budget increases from the university, but that they are never enough to keep up with journal inflation. Dozens of journals have been cut, and she is forced each year to go to each academic department to seek agreement on what to eliminate. What frustrates her the most, she said, is continuing to cut off access to information professors and students want ­ when the model being pushed by the legislation would provide that knowledge without increasing the college’s costs.

As for the scholarly societies, Graves said that she knew that they did valuable work, but questioned why that work needed to be subsidized by journals. “A lot of societies have relied on journals to fund other activities. But why should libraries at colleges ­ nonprofit entities within nonprofit entities ­ fund those activities? Shouldn’t members be funding those activities? We need to have this conversation.?


[Barbara Allen, director of the Committee on Institutional Cooperation, which coordinated the letter from university provosts] said that the publishers’ arguments were “speculative? and “alarmist,? and that her members didn’t want to destroy peer review. She said that they were committed to keeping peer review viable, and that all kinds of models could support it ­ once people stop trying to defend the current system at all costs.

Posted by stemp003 at 4:52 PM | Comments (1)