Debating Open Access

Starting in April the UK research councils have pushed ahead with a policy that all research they fund must be publish in Open Access journals so that everyone has free online access to the research they funded. The issues involved are actually much more complex than this simple principle so it if you support Open Access you will agree that it is a good thing that they have rashly gone ahead rather than waiting for the inevitable long debate to reach some conclusions.

Now the British Academy has published 9 short articles by academics presenting their opinions. The British Academy supports the Humanities and Social Sciences and this is reflected in the fact that only one of the articles was written by a scientist (a biologist). The principles for publishing in the humanities are not very different from those in the sciences but support for open access from the humanities tends to be less enthusiastic than it is from the sciences.

One of the articles by historian Robin Osborne is particularly negative. He argues that academics should not be obliged to publish in open access because they get their skills and information from a wider range of sources than just those they are paid to look at by the research councils. He also claims that research should not be free to view by the public because they do not have the training to understand it. I think many people will agree with me that these arguments are outrageously misguided, yet he may represent the opinion of many academics in both the humanities and sciences so it is important to have these points debated openly.

The other articles recognize many of the complex issues involved such as the affect of open access on learned societies who are funded by their publishing empires and the wider questions about how peer-review needs to evolve. Another point made which is too frequently overlooked is the conflicting motivations behind the open access movement. For many scientists and mathematicians the main purpose of open access is to destroy the business model of private publishing houses who have been making vast profits by charging academics for their own research through their libraries. Just look up articles on the subject by John Baez or Timothy Gowers to see how true this is (the linked posts are just the most recent of many and I mostly agree with their views).

On the other hand the Finch Report which is behind the open access policy in the UK makes no mention of this and is only concerned with the need to make research more available to industry and the public. In fact they aim to protect publishers and increase the amount of the research funding spent on publishing in order to increase access. It is not difficult to see why this is. Elsevier is one of the top FTSE listed companies and the UK cannot afford to risk damaging such industry giants (even if they are really based in another country) Despite pressure from an academic boycott Elsevier-Reed have seen a more than 50% increase in their share price in the last year (see here for latest figure). They are also using their influence to push back on the extent of open access e.g. by arguing strongly against copyright reforms and trying to lengthen embargo times on green open access. See their position statements for the UK policy makers to get an idea of how this works.

Update: Robin Osborne has posted some of his article on the Gaurdian Network. It would be helpful if there were some rational comments to explain to him why it is wrong to stop the public reading academic research in case they misunderstand it.

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27 Responses to Debating Open Access

  1. Wes Hansen says:

    Meanwhile, here in Under Surveillance Always (USA), thanks in no small part to a true bleeder, Aaron Swartz (, small cracks are appearing in some institutional black holes ( . . .

  2. It is a wonderful in addition to handy bit of facts. I am fulfilled for you to distributed this beneficial details along with us. Be sure to remain people up to date like that. Appreciation for sharing.

  3. Open access already exists in several forms and grades, In most cases open access is only only one-sided unrestricted.

    ViXra and PubMedCentral are examples of full two-sided open access.
    ArXiv requires endorsement on the author side. Most open access journals request a rather high author fee for open access
    publishing. The same publishers also offer peer reviewed publishing against a much lower author fee.and behind a payment barrier for the readers.

    Open access e-print archives often offer an effective version control mechanism. Peer review cannot cope well with such version control mechanisms.

    Wikipedia is also not full open access. It requires notability for new contributions.

    So what kind of open access is pursued by UK research councils?

    • Philip Gibbs says:

      The UK research councils are asking researchers to choose between gold access which costs a fortune or green access where there is a period of embargo after publication before open access is permitted. The funding for this comes out of the total research budget with no reduction in subscription charges for libraries. In other words it is a terrible deal worse than what most fields are already used to. We can only hope it will finally spur them on to develop and accept alternative peer-review systems.

      • hansvanleunen says:

        My opinion is that the best system already works outside the scientific realm. The hardware industry possesses a lively market for their products. Quality review publications that compare and discuss price/performance of competing products keep that market alive such that everybody gets the chance to make profits.
        However in this market open access does not exist. On the other hand the price is very affordable and the corresponding quality is usually very high. This especially holds for the high-tech components market. Without that mechanism we would not have automobiles, computers, mobile phones, etc.

  4. shafiqifs says:

    All the main-stream peer-reviewed journals publish articles which are in accordance with the adopted paradigm of the main-stream as all the educational & research institutions and journals are under the control of main-stream academicians & researchers. Serious problems are being faced by the researchers who are against the main-stream. This should justify the open access publications. Read following which should clarify the situation.
    The very space-time concept, on which theories of relativity are founded, has been mathematically, theoretically & experimentally proved as baseless and openly challenged on the basis of published scientific articles. Since the very space-time concept has been proved as baseless the question of curvature of space-time being correct does not arise. Gravity has been shown to be an electromagnetic force as foreseen by Maxwell due to the curl/vortices of aether (the electric dipoles) in the published article ‘Revised Foundation of Theory of Everything: Non-living Things & Living Things’ (; Sep 2010) Revised version of this article is available on vixra & World Science Database in my profile. Following is the open challenge which everyone could see at and


    The article ‘On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies’ by Albert Einstein is based on trickeries is proved beyond any doubt whatsoever in the articles (1). Experimental & Theoretical Evidences of Fallacy of Space-time Concept and Actual State of Existence of the Physical Universe published in the peer-reviewed journal namely Indian Journal of Science & Technology (March 2012 issue) available on (2) On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies By Albert Einstein is Based on Trickeries (Open letter to Professors, Teachers, Researchers and Students of Physics) published in peer-reviewed journal Elixir Online Journal (February 2012 issue) available on The Voigt transformation was simply a mathematical possibility which was changed by Lorentz by introducing the Lorentz factor but the Lorentz factor is simply a manipulation. Thus nature and forces in nature were trivialized and made subservient to mathematics in the theories of relativity, Big Bang Theory, Space-time concept and in all physical sciences which are directly or indirectly based on the ‘On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies’. It is unfortunate for humanity that exposing these trickeries took more than one hundred years.
    I openly challenge all the professors, researchers & teachers of physics/philosophy of physics to come forward & show me where I am wrong or else they have to accept that they are teaching incorrect physics based on trickeries.

    My challenge may not be treated as a publicity stunt, but I sincerely wish that truth should prevail on this planet and am expecting identical response from all truth loving people/intellectuals. I do understand that it is hard for mainstream physicists to reconcile with the alternative philosophy; though actual and factual; as almost all the living physicists and researchers are borne, brought up and taught physics which is fundamentally incorrect. Their livelihood is based on the physics which has been adopted as the result of fraud, but these material interests should never be a stumbling block to acknowledge the reality, which to my understanding is the essence of scientific thinking and honest living for the betterment of entire human society.

    I have not an iota of doubt that sooner or later the truth will prevail, but it would be in the interest of humanity that truth is accepted now so that humanity comes out of clutches of materialism which in itself is naked atheism.
    Mohammad Shafiq Khan.

    I would like to keep you informed that the open challenge has been sent to almost all professors of physics & universities of the world and so far two retired professors of physics namely Jeremy Dunning-Davies of Hull University & Brian Cole of Columbia University accepted the challenge but both of them finally failed to show a single error in the articles on the basis of which open challenge has been put forward. In this regard exchange of articles between me & Jeremy is available on vixra, General Science Journal & Elixir Online Journal.

    • Outraged says:

      It is disingenous to claim that “…both of them finally failed to show a single error in the articles…”. Prof. Dunning-Davies has repeatedly debunked your childish claims against Special Relativity, but you are never ready to accept your own mistakes.

    • Orwin O'Dowd says:

      *The classic answer is the effect must be symmetric between attractions and repulsions.
      *If you have a statistical model of repulsions deflecting, and attractions stabilizing, you have a case.
      *BUT please realize that the dipole moment is proportional to temperature, which then excludes cold (DARK!!) hydrogen in intergalactic space as a factor in dark matter. Should be testable, with the occasional illumination of the hydrogen…

  5. Kernel says:

    I consider this entire “debate” totally moot because the anagram of viXra, arXiv, exists. The same article can appear in a ‘closed-access’ journal and simultaneously on the arXiv for all to see. What exactly is wrong with this model?

    • hansvanleunen says:

      All publication modes have their pro’s and con;s. Even when used in parallel. It is the author that decides what he wants.

  6. Orwin O'Dowd says:

    The Internet will now evolve an ant-brain, thanks to a breakthrough in optical fiber:

    This is a quiet victory for the orbit space, intuited by Apollonius, prospected by Archimedes and opened for physics by Kepler and Bohr. But is it true that all motion (Hamiltonian energy) is orbital?

    And can the endless fight over tracking and privacy be resolved through orbit analysis into more productive ways of facilitating associations? By now its not publication that’s the focal issue, but the search/filter/integrate processing of published data…

    …of course that feeds back into research and publication, and I must say the quality of ideas integrated here matches the best on the Internet worldwide.

  7. hansvanleunen says:

    My personal case may be rather special. It is treated in

  8. Orwin O'Dowd says:

    In GR the Bessell “orbit” definitely enters the picture. Here’s a Kahler-Ricci PULSE which could be very significant for you:

    • Orwin O'Dowd says:

      In AdS2 there’s a massive scalar flow which these authors do not analyse,and then find the massless alternative is useless…

      Piron still has the best option for the logic or necessity of causality problem, and an AdS approach would open in a fascinating way on transcendental realism. That’s the philosophical option that’s been on the horizon since Kant.

    • Orwin O'Dowd says:

      The critical Bianchi V symmetry (the relativity works):

      Blackhole redshift!!!

      Dark hydrogen:

      This is cosmology I can believe in. Also, of course, the off-centre analysis of the BAO.

    • Orwin O'Dowd says:

      Also a Markov process for Stephen.

      What more do you want?

      • Stephen Crowley says:

        Orwin, pretty cool link, ill check it out once I get back to the states in one piece

      • Stephen Crowley says:

        Fantastic paper there! Airy functions eh…very nice, I’ve familiar with them. How to type the thumbs up emoticon? viXra blog might need a few enhancements 🙂

      • Stephen Crowley says:

        The Cremona group… In algebraic geometry, the Cremona group, introduced by Cremona (1863, 1865), is the group of birational automorphisms of the n-dimensional projective space over a field k. It is denoted by Cr(Pn(k)) or Bir(Pn(k)) or Crn(k).

        The Cremona group is naturally identified with the automorphism group Autk(k(x1, …, xn)) of the field of the rational functions in n indeterminates over k, or in other words a pure transcendental extension of k, with transcendence degree n.

        The projective general linear group of order n+1, of projective transformations, is contained in the Cremona group of order n. The two are equal only when n=0 or n=1, in which case both the numerator and the denominator of a transformation must be linear. ——> Finite subgroups of the plane Cremona group
        IV Dolgachev, VA Iskovskikh – Algebra, Arithmetic, and Geometry, 2009 – Springer

      • hansvanleunen says:

        Is this about open access?
        You must be in the wrong thread!

      • Stephen Crowley says:

        Oh yeah, I meant to put that on the other one, I blame Orwin for starting it with the arxiv links!

      • hansvanleunen says:

        Say something nice about open access and you are forgiven.

      • Stephen Crowley says:

        If it wasn’t for open access, then only special club members could read all the good stuff, or people with money, etc, knowing is half the battle. *wink*

      • Orwin O'Dowd says:

        What use is Open Access when Google goes down with Egypt every time? think it through: its actually the same issue about possible worlds and accessibility functions..

      • Orwin O'Dowd says:

        Parity in Chern-Simmons Lagrangians, comes out on the projective plane via those octonionic 3-forms:


        So if Britain’s much-hypes HS2 rail project looks obsolete now, what about their Internet infrastructure, which couldn’t deliver NHS integration? How many lost generations will pay for the ideological denial of complex-valued dynamics??

        Its written into the history of the Rankine wave-equation (contemporary with Cremona), which bears an uncanny resemblance to the Dirac equation.

      • Stephen Crowley says:

        Orwin, that’s funny, my colleage was just freaking about reflection in the java virtual machine and the setAccessible function to change “final” fields. I see it as a clear benefit and feature so you don’t get locked in and trapped by draconian power mongers who attempt to control your ability to know whats going on.

        This is why I avoid google serves as much as possible. I don’t *care* if google is down.

        If the UK didn’t turn their internet into a draconian totalitarian nightmare by recording ALL traffic and then putting automated triggers and all this stuff, thus making it collapse under the weight of sheer nonsense.. then the internet might actually function in a humane and sane fashion. As it is, it has all these control freaks looking “in the past” and stuff that already happened… and thus slowing the whole thing to a crawl.

        I’m interested in the Cremona group due to its relationship to the mathematical thery of blowing up… so, we can minimize the risk of the bank blowing up, and stuff.

      • Orwin O'Dowd says:

        The Magna Carta (v. IV 1225) allowed all merchants free access to Britain, with reciprocal treatment, establishing a merchant hegemony among feudal holdings by no means valued at market rates. The revaluation of all values (Nietzche) then took in the Baron’s Wars and the Black Death and more. In the Enlightenment the banks celebrtated gaining an overview of royal finances in the cynical image of despotisme eclare -despotism rendered transparent, like Pale Ale.

        As for the taxpayers, we’re still trying to catch up, and the revaluations continue through this crisis, with massive write-downs of intellectual properties still riding on the remnants of feudal authority.

        Yes, this Open Access initiative is really REFORMATION 2.0, as is endlessly enacted in the Harry Potter saga.

        I’m really glad there’s suss out there on how Oracle failed us in this pass, because that’s been the focus of the worst paranoia. But are you free to load/session your operating system on/per logical volume? No, and that falls short of the mainframe standard IBM were calling back end 80s a “logical unit”. Short of that you don’t have full logical control, or audit drill-down, or effective legal redress for what happens!!!

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