Searching for common ground: public access and the Scholarly Publishing Roundtable
October 14, 2010
As soon as I sent the draft of my editorial about the Scholarly Publishing Roundtable around to the other roundtable members for review, Fred began referring to it as my "how I spent my summer vacation" essay. That's pretty accurate. When Susan Starr, the editor of the Journal of the Medical Library Association, asked me last March if I'd be interested in writing an editorial for the October issue, I knew immediately what I wanted to write about. The report itself is the important thing, and I didn't see any need to repeat the substance of it, but I thought it might be useful to describe my perceptions of how the Roundtable came about, and what I think it achieved. I'm grateful to Susan for giving me the chance to do that.
At the most basic level, the goal of open access is to eliminate subscription barriers (there's much more to the various "flavors" of open access, of course, but that's the fundamental thing). What I try to emphasize in the editorial is that across the broad spectrum of the scholarly communication community, there isn't any significant opposition to that goal. But how we get there, and how we craft policy in such a way as to maximize the benefits and minimize the negative unintended consequences is very complex and requires carefully balancing among a number of competing priorities. The Roundtable report attempts to describe that complexity and that balancing act in ways that we hope will be useful to policy makers.
Jim O'Donnell (another roundtable member) and I will be hosting a session on the report and its relationship to FRPAA at the Charleston Conference in a few weeks. I'm hoping for a lively discussion.