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Re: Self-Archiving and Journal Subscriptions: Flawed Method and No Data Rick Anderson 13 Nov 2006 21:30 UTC

> Rick, Are you disagreeing with Stevan's critique?  I would hope
> everyone would cancel a title under the conditions you describe.

I don't disagree with everything Stevan said in his critique.  I was
responding to Stevan's summary of it ("There is no evidence to date that
Open Access [OA] self-archiving causes journal cancellations").  To say
that I disagree with that summary wouldn't be exactly accurate -- I
think it would be more accurate to say that I find it irrelevant.  It's
like saying that there's no evidence to date that giving away free books
would lead libraries to stop paying for them.  Of course there's no
evidence for that proposition -- how could there be?  Booksellers aren't
generally giving away books.  But it seems absurd to suggest that if a
bookseller did start doing so, those who sell the same books wouldn't
see a pretty significant drop in sales.  Similarly, if and when
easily-searched IRs provide immediate, permanent OA access to the full
content of a given journal, it's crazy to suppose that subscriptions to
that journal wouldn't drop.

Stevan seems to doubt that librarians will know when a journal becomes
completely self-archived, but I suggest that he underestimates the
increasing budget pressures that are shaping our subscription behavior.
If self-archiving becomes more the rule than the exception, and as our
budgets continue to fall every year, we'll continue to be forced to look
critically at our subscription lists.  (Yes, even title by title --
especially for expensive science journals.)  We'll start asking
publishers to send us lists of those titles for which they allow
self-archiving.  We'll spot-check those lists to see whether the
archived content is easy to find, and whether it's available immediately
(or close enough to immediately to justify the cost savings).  And where
we can cancel paid subscriptions, we will.  Would everyone cancel every
title in this scenario?  No.  But many of us would cancel many
subscriptions -- we'd be irresponsible not to.

Rick Anderson
Dir. of Resource Acquisition
University of Nevada, Reno Libraries
(775) 784-6500 x273