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My lab:
Maybe I should consider myself lucky. Only now has the credit crunch hit somewhere close to home. And it's not even that close. Many, many others have of course suffered much, much worse. Nevertheless, I feel these recent developments as a personal setback. What has happened? In a somewhat unusual way, I have discovered that the online video journal JoVE has gone closed access. This is unusual, because I'm an Associate Editor at JoVE and had no clue what was going on. Of course, it would've been less of a sudden hit if I had been warned ahead of time. Albeit, the people running JoVE apparently had more pressing things to do than keeping equally busy editors abreast. Which goes to show how the young startup is struggling to make ends meet in the current financial climate. Other people have also weighed in with their opinions. Noah Grey blogged at Nature Networks and Abishek Tiwari criticises "blind supporters of open access".
This development is cause for concern. The FriendFeed discussion covers a lot of the issues. The main problem in my eyes is that funds need to be shifted from libraries (=recipients) to the individuals who are producing the content (=contributors). This is a general OA problem which becomes easier as publication costs keep plummeting due to online publishing. If the costs are comparatively low, contributors can pay to publish. However, this ideal seems to fail with high-quality video publishing which still is very expensive. A regular publication in JoVE costs many times the price of a regular paper in a traditional scientific journal. For this simple reason, JoVE faced the choice of closed access video methods or no video methods. Given this choice, of course closed access video methods is better than no video methods. Therefore, I support this decision and will talk to my library about subscribing to JoVE.
Going forward, it will be a challenge to sustain a constant revenue stream for JoVE. It's still too new to have prestige to publish in it and the reputation for quality which generates demand. I remain cautiously optimistic, though, as JoVE is a great journal and eventually people will realize what an asset to science JoVE is.

UPDATE: John Willbanks and David Crotty are weighing in with their opinions.
Posted on Thursday 02 April 2009 - 17:11:59 comment: 0

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