Saturday, August 13, 2005

Open Access and peer review: time and cost savings

OA, particularly widely practiced OA, has many side-benefits, in addition to the obvious: increased access and impact.

One such benefit is that widely practiced OA can reduce the time and costs of peer review. How?

Peer-reviewers need to check the facts - the resources cited.

As things stand now, the peer-reviewer generally has to look up each reference. At best (the item is immediately available), this is extra work for a peer-reviewer, taking away time from the peer-reviewer's own research.

Often, the item is not available, so the peer-reviewer needs to obtain the item through interlibrary loan. This can increase the time required for peer review, stretching out the time from submission to publication - delaying impact.

Interlibrary loans are not free - there are staffing costs, not trivial for universities, and often hard dollar costs to obtain items.

Picture the OA-widely-practiced-scenario: all the articles cited are OA, and the author has provided a clickable link to each. This is a very efficient scenario indeed - no delay in access for the peer-reviewer, no delay in publication, no cost to the peer-reviewer's university.

Perhaps one day soon publishers, and/or peer reviewers, will begin to ask for reference lists with those clickable links. Knowing what is possible, I have no doubts about my preference as a peer-reviewer!

Final thought: are universities subsidizing publishers when they provide interlibrary loans that are needed for peer review purposes? Could be something to think about for those publishers who are reluctant to provide interlibrary loans rights in licenses...some of those you'd prefer not to give such rights to are actually working for you.


Heather G. Morrison

The value we add as librarians does not depend on whether we purchase the information we provide. Anonymous.

This post reflects my personal opinion only and does not represent the opinions or policy of the BC Electronic Library Network or the Simon Fraser University Library.

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