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Position Paper Issued on the Academic Use of Journal Content

From 5/11/07 Library Journal Academic Newswire:

A coalition of scholarly publishing groups this week released a “position paper” on balancing author and publisher rights in scholarly journals. The paper Author and Publisher Rights for Academic Use: An Appropriate Balance, was assembled by the International Association of Scientific, Technical, and Medical Publishers (STM), along with the Association of American Publishers Professional and Scholarly Publishing division (AAP PSP), and the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers (ALPSP). The paper suggests that the needs of scholarly authors and the need for publishers to obtain copyright transfers or exclusive licenses can be balanced, and need not conflict.

“Academic research authors and their institutions should be able to use and post the content that such authors and institutions themselves provide for internal institutional non-commercial research and education purposes”—something most publishers allow—the paper states. Publishers, meanwhile, “should be able to determine when and how the official publication record occurs, and to derive the revenue benefit from the publication and open posting of the official record (the final published article), and its further distribution and access in recognition of the value of the services they provide.”

Despite what STM called “overheated” discussions of new models and practices, the scientific record is best-served, the paper emphasizes, by a professional publishing model. In that model, exclusive rights preserve the scientific record and ensure that journals are viable, thus supporting editing, peer review, and “electronic delivery and investments in such systems,” as well as supporting the administration of a copyright regime.

In a recent editorial in Scientific American however, researcher and consultant Alma Swan questions some of the core positions put forth by publishers and suggests individual authors, through self-archiving and rapid dissemination on the web, can take matters into their own hands. “Research is expensive enough that the world can scarcely afford an antiquated, inefficient, and high-cost system of information dissemination,” Swan writes. “The bickering over varied business models, and the side arguments over public access to publicly funded results, obscure a larger, more important question: Can open access—the fundamental change to a system where scientists no longer face barriers to accessing others’ work (or their own)—advance science?”

Swan argues yes. “While commercial publishers, scientific societies, and librarians struggle over business models and tough longer-term issues such as who will maintain the record of science in a digital age,” she writes, “it remains the individual investigator who has the tools at hand to speed science along.” Swan will moderate the SPARC-ACRL forum on the sustainability of open access at the upcoming American Library Association Annual Conference in Washington DC.

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