Proposed “Open Access” legislation in congress could well kill the academic publishing industry, according to Gary VandenBos of the American Psychological Association.
As a panelist in this afternoon’s AERA session Challenges and Opportunities for Scholarly Communication in a 21-st Century World, he said that the APA publishes 60 journals, with 3000 articles per year; 70 scholarly books per year, and offers five data bases.
Proposed Open Access legislation would stipulate that, if any NIH funding dollars went into the research reported in a given article, the article must be deposited in NIH database for free access. VandenBos asks, Who is going to underwrite the expenses? And what will be the impact on the scholarly publisher?
VandenBos says that, while the APA does supports the idea of public access, in terms of providing easy access to published research, the user should pay some small fee to help offset costs, perhaps 99 cents per article, based on the iTunes model for downloading music.
In the world of scholarly publishing, he said, 10% or 15% of journals make a lot of money. 60% or 70% of journals make very little money, and the remainder operate in the red, at publisher’s expense.
The APA now publishes nine journals that operate “in the red.” If the APA’s journals revenue were to be diminished by 15% it would mean that 31 journals would operate in the red, he said. A mandated ‘open access’ of article repository in PubMed, with no user fee, could kill scholarly publishing.
PubMed is an online reference service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that includes over 16 million citations from MEDLINE and other life science journals for biomedical articles back to the 1950s. PubMed includes links to full text articles and other related resources.
As a more realistic alternative, he suggested, the NIH could produce 20 or more new journals of their own, for free public access, and demand the right of first refusal on articles written on federal funds.