AAA: "Open access no realistic option"
In an article in Anthropology News May 2007, Bill Davis, Executive Director of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) explains why he doesn't embrace the arguments of open access advocates to make electronic versions of scholarly journals free to anyone.
AAA’s publishing program financial structure is not unlike those of many scholarly society publishers in the social sciences and humanities. Library subscription revenues are critically important to maintaining the stability and viability of our publishing programs. Thus it is understandable that nonprofit society publishers fear losing library subscription revenue if their journal contents were available to all readers for free.
But Davis is no opponent of Open Access. He discusses several options:
Maybe there are options not yet widely discussed. For example, the proposed legislation requiring that any federally supported research be published through an open access repository could be accompanied by a requirement that every federal research grant include in its amount the costs of such publication. Another possibility would be for colleges and universities to provide supplements to faculty compensation to cover the costs associated with their faculty’s scholarly publishing work.
For all scholars, authors and readers, the challenge is to figure out how to provide as much content as possible free to those who we want to have access to it without losing our ability to continue to publish that content.
In Anthropology News April, Alex Golub claimed that the pay-for-content model has never been successful and that we ought to move beyond the idea that our current reader-pays model is somehow more “realistic” than open access alternatives.
Interesting comment by Peter Suber at Open Access News. In his opinion, Bill Davis is wrong in several points. The study that he refers to (that shows that Open access archiving will lead to journal cancellations) is flawed. And even when the AAA-Director discusses possible options he doesn't seem to be well informed according to Suber:
But he misunderstands a key fact about OA archiving when he suggests that FRPAA (which would require OA archiving for most federally-funded research) "could be accompanied by a requirement that every federal research grant include in its amount the costs" of such OA archiving. OA repositories never charge deposit fees. There are modest upkeep costs for the repository but no costs for authors or readers.
Suber encourages anthropologists to publish their journal articles online - as it is already allowed:
Finally, the AAA is a green publisher (according to SHERPA). Its journals already allow authors to self-archive their peer-reviewed postprints. Hence, even if the AAA can't find a way to convert its non-OA journals to OA, or to provide gold OA, authors should provide green OA on their own initiative and take advantage of the opportunity the AAA has already created.