Friday, February 15, 2008

Whither white, fair RoMEO?

Whither white, fair RoMEO? or, What Fate Awaits the Journal of Unfunded Research?

Incredible as it may sound, there is still at least one publisher in the field of medicine who is a "white" publisher, according to the SHERPA / RoMEO Publisher Copyright Policies and Self-Archiving. A "white" publisher does not support open access archiving.

The publisher will not be named, for now at least, for surely a letter from such a publisher to SHERPA about their new, open access archiving friendly policy, is on its way?

Otherwise, what is the business plan of such a publisher? A very large percentage of medical research funding nowadays comes with an expectation of public or open access archiving; for example, the world's largest medical research funder, the US National Institutes of Health, the world's second-largest medical research funder, the Wellcome Trust, and many more. For a list of research funders with open access policies, see SHERPA JULIET.

What will a "white" publisher do in this environment?

Fight with researchers who wish to publish in their journals? In the short term, they will no doubt win the occasional battle and gain copyright to a few more articles. In the long term, though, what are the likely impacts on their business? A researcher who needs to publish might accept such terms; but would they willingly continue to provide free peer review services for this journal, or would they join the volunteers at an open access journal? If the library needs to find subscriptions to cancel, will they fight to keep this journal? If a suitable open access friendly option appears before their next article is ready, will the researcher seek their publishing services once more, or will they choose the open access option instead?

Refuse to publish funded research?
What impact would this have on the offerings of such a publisher, and the inclination of libraries to continue subscriptions?

When librarians look at the SHERPA record for a publisher that is not open access friendly and not compliant with the policies of research funding agencies (as illustrated below), will they be thinking In a year or two from now, if this publisher will not accept funded research, what will they be publishing, exactly? Why subscribe?

This post is a part of the Transitioning to Open Access Series.