Open Access – reasons to be cheerful: a reply to Agrawal

A opinion piece by Anurag Agrawal that was rather skeptical about some aspects of moves toward open access was published in the March issue of Trends in Plant Sciences. I felt several of the arguments advanced by Agrawal were rather weak and was glad to have the opportunity to write a rejoinder which has now been published in the April edition of the same journal. I am grateful to the editor, Dr Susanne Brink, for the opportunity to write for the journal’s regular readership.

I think my piece may be freely available from the journal web-site. From home, outside the privilege of my university’s subscription access, I was to be able to download it via the PDF link on the table of contents, but the situation seems a little confused because after clicking the ‘Full-text HTML’ link, I ran straight into the paywall at Science Direct.

I imagine others may be experiencing similar difficulties or confusion so, in the interests of furthering the discussion, I am posting the author accepted manuscript here (PDF). This version differs in no significant respect from the version published in the journal. When I get a chance, I will also deposit it version in my university repository.

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4 Responses to Open Access – reasons to be cheerful: a reply to Agrawal

  1. Mike Taylor says:

    Side-comment: it’s a problem with IRs when adding content to them is considered a whole big Ball O’ Wax that you have to find time for, whereas shoving your manuscript up on the blog is trivial. In the same way, I put all my papers on my own web-site, which is easy, but only a few on my IR because the deposit process is such a royal pain.

    IR implementors have to fix this, so that IR deposition no longer feel like a tedious form-filling exercise that we’re obliged to go through against our own inclination.

    • Stephen says:

      The deposition process at Imperial is pretty straightforward but is easiest once the published paper has been detected by their system and then flagged to me in an email for checking/approval and upload of the full-text. I imagine this will happen in a few days. The IR has the advantage that it is likely to outlive any personal web-page where I might post my stuff.

      • Mike Taylor says:

        The IR has the advantage that it is likely to outlive any personal web-page where I might post my stuff.

        So I often hear. Personally, I am skeptical. I continually see web-pages maintained by supposedly trustworthy organisation disappear — most recently when I went to check the RCUK open-access policy that they released in July 2012. Since I’ve been affiliated with Bristol, its old repository ROSE has been replaced by a Pure-based system, with (as far as I can tell) no facility for redirecting individual researchers’ old URLs into the new system.

        Of the two links I gave above for my own work, I’m more confident that the one on my website will be around in ten years than I am of the IR page.

        Mind you, I am more confident yet of arXiv. Maybe international multi-disciplinary repositories like that are the best way to go.

  2. Mike says:

    I couldn’t access the official pdf (paywall $39.95; IR free, thanks!). You’ve covered similar points, but been much more charitable than I was in my tweeted responses to the 4 main points raised…

    Agrawal’s piece easily retitled “4 more reasons to be skeptical of scientific publishing”. Nothing to do with #OA 1/n

    (i) Authors have been getting screwed by traditional publishing houses for years. Free reviewing, closed access, publishers profit. 2/n

    (ii) I’ve had typeset and copy edit issues with trad pubs. Still have to proof-read for them (for free). Still errors in pub’d articles 3/n

    (iii) #OA papers are not getting cited less. Impact factors change over time and are unreliable guides to individual article quality. 4/n

    (iv) Publicatn in certain #OA journals imparts ‘reviewers focussed on scientific rigour, not other stuff they’re terrible at predicting’ n/n

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