major periodical subscriptions, especially to electronic journals published by historically key providers, cannot be sustained: continuing these subscriptions on their current footing is financially untenable
Judging from many of the responses, people seem to think this is some kind of major turning point in the push for universal open access. And the fact that even Harvard, with its billions dollar endowment, is feeling the sting of rising journal prices does seem to have struck a chord.
But librarians have been warning about the “serials crisis” for years (see, for example, this prescient 1998 report from the Association of Research Libraries, the Association of American Universities, and the Pew Higher Education Roundtable). I’ve seen dozens of letters to faculty from librarians urging them to abandon subscription journals. But they have little effect. I think this is at least in part due to the mismatch between the strength of their argument, and the weakness of their proposed solutions – a pattern repeated in the Harvard letter.
So I thought I would try to help by editing the provided list of
things to consider demands:
Since the Library now must change its subscriptions and since faculty and graduate students are chief users,
please considerimmediately implement the following options open to faculty and students (F) and the Library (L) , state other options you think viable, and communicate your views:
1. Make sure that all of your own papers are accessible by submitting them to DASH
in accordance with the faculty-initiated open-access policies(F). [NOTE: Harvard’s open access policy provides an opt-out provision for faculty – this is not acceptable]
Consider submittingSubmit all of your articles to open-access journals , or to ones that have reasonable, sustainable subscription costs; move prestige to open access (F).
3. If on the editorial board of a journal involved,
determine if it can be published as open access material, or independently from publishers that practice pricing described above. If not, consider resigningresign (F).
4. Contact professional organizations to
raise these issuesdemand that they immediately support universal open access (F).
EncourageDemand that professional associations to take control of scholarly literature in their field or shift the management of their e-journals to library-friendly organizations(F).
Encourage colleagues to consider and to discuss these or other optionsTell your colleagues to stop being wimps (F).
Sign contracts that unbundle subscriptions and concentrate on higher-use journalsDo not sign any contracts to access subscription-only journals (L).
8. Immediately move all journals to a sustainable
pay per use system,open access model (L).
9. Insist on subscription contracts in which the terms can be made public (L).
10. Require that all works produced by university faculty be distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution License, no matter where they are published.