[OAI-eprints] Open Access Priorities: Lay Public Access or Researcher Access?
harnad at ecs.soton.ac.uk
Tue May 9 20:55:36 EDT 2006
** Apologies for Cross-Posting **
Peter Suber's is an excellent, ecumenical way of putting it (see
below). Peter is right and I am wrong:
SH: Dear Peter, your wise, well-informed comment on my
comment in OA News (5/7 2006) was terrific!
Yes, the priorities are: research use primary, lay use secondary;,
and yes, the public benefits from both, in that order, but it's ok
for senators to stress the lay use for vote-getting purposes -- as
long as the Bill itself is loud and clear enough on the priorities
to be able to block all spurious objections by publishers that imply
that the primary rationale is lay use rather than research use. You
have read the Bill fully, whereas I have only skimmed it, so if you
are satisfied the ammunition is all in there, that's one less thing
to worry about! (If, in addition, the dual deposit/release plank is
added too, that takes publishers out of the loop completely.)
PETER SUBER: Thanks, Stevan. The bill itself certainly doesn't put lay
readers ahead of researchers. It mandates OA for everyone. It's wrong for
publishers to assume a lay-reader accent in the bill and it would be
wrong for us to do so as well. If anything, the bill puts researchers
first. Here's Section 2, where the bill describes its rationale:
"Congress finds that the Federal Government funds basic
and applied research with the expectation that new ideas
and discoveries that result from the research, if shared and
effectively disseminated, will advance science and improve the
lives and welfare of people of the United States and around
the world" (2.1). [Moreover] "the Internet makes it possible for
this information to be promptly available to every scientist,
physician, educator, and citizen at home, in school, or in a
If the sequence of beneficiaries in the last sentence is roughly in
priority order, then researchers are first and lay readers last.
> From OA News (5/7 2006)
(1) I agree with Stevan that the primary beneficiaries of FRPAA, and
of every similar OA policy, are researchers, and that the benefits
for lay readers are important but secondary. I've said so whenever
the question has come up --for the NIH policy, the draft RCUK policy,
the CURES Act, and now the FRPAA.
(2) I also agree with Stevan that casting lay readers as the primary
beneficiaries needlessly opens these policies to publisher objections.
(3) However, I would distinguish the language of the sponsoring
Senators from the language of the bill itself. The Senators may
put researchers and lay readers on a par but there's nothing in
the substantive provisions of the bill to support or require that
emphasis. The problem is not with the bill but with some ways of
pitching the bill.
(4) I'm also more inclined than Stevan to be lenient with this way
of pitching the bill, at least for the sponsoring Senators. The bill
really will make publicly-funded research accessible to the taxpayers
who paid for it, whether they are professional researchers or lay
readers, and this really will benefit lay readers, whether these
benefits are primary or secondary. It's natural, even irresistible,
for an elected legislator introducing a new bill to point to every
benefit for every constituent. If we had to choose, I'd rather see
sponsors of good OA legislation be re-elected than to fine-tune their
rhetoric in order to disarm every publisher objection. However, we
don't have to choose. There are ways to point out the benefits for
lay readers, and still put the accent on the benefits for researchers.
(5) The FRPAA, like the NIH policy before it, uses the term "public
access". In opposing the NIH policy, many publishers mistakenly
assumed that the goal of public access was the goal of access for
lay readers, and some are already making the same assmption about
the FRPAA. We OA advocates shouldn't make the same mistake. "Public"
doesn't mean "lay public" any more than it means "professional
public". It means everyone.
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