On Open Access

The time is running out for those scientific publishers that drain our researchers (in the end the tax payers!) from resources. At least judging from the “Plan S” that stipulates an accelerated transition to publications only in “compliant open access journals” from January 1, 2020.

The nordic universities (NUS) have adopted this plan.

As you certainly know, a number of countries, including Sweden, have ceased the agreement with Elsevier from June this year (link in Swedish).

Alas, things start to move! I am engaged in a committee that works with issues related to open access. I am in the working group that looks at how publishing in accepted open access journals harmonize with our career system. Could it be that an over-emphasize on quality indicators like JIF (Journal Impact Factor) can steer in the opposite direction, i.e. encourage publication in journals that do not have an acceptable open access policy? I think this is a big risk. We must increasingly move (back) into judging the actual publications, not where they are published.

The above committee on open science is chaired by Vice-Chancellor Astrid Söderbergh Widding at Stockholm University and is coordinated by the Royal Library. Our five preliminary reports are available on the web and open for comments until the end of this month.

The work will go on, and if anyone wants to give some input or discuss matters with me I am, of course, available.

I end by recommending an excellent column in the Signal Processing Magazine, from Professor Ali Sayed, whom I first met at Stanford in 1992.

He refers to a secretly coded message about a discovery made by Gallileo Galileo, that could be understood only 50 years later. In contrast, Fourier’s fantastic work on what we today call the Fourier Series in 1807 was publicly available for a long time before it was published. He was awarded a prize for a reworked version in 1811, but the publication came only in 1822 when it was ensured that the results were technically sound. His student published the first rigorous convergence proof in 1829. An excellent example of where open science can lead!

24 October 2018