A Reply to  John's Gapper's paper "Aaron Swartz’s illusion over research"

The argument in favor of Open Access as Open Source is simple, and in my opinion unstoppable. Universities each year are forced to pay expensive subscriptions to online journals established by scientific publishers (Springer, to mention one of the largest), which by the way, do * not * remunerate authors of articles downloaded, nor does it remunerate editors.
Similarly, Universities have to pay for licenses to Microsoft and Apple for license purchase their OS on their machines, not to mention the racketeering to pay updates in Word or Excel. A lot of Linux O.S. are free and more efficient in many respects than Windows and Apple, but no doubt that Gapper, who is not a computer scientist, AFAIK, will try to disprove this claim. 

One imagines that Gapper"s argument could be  as follows: the MIT and Oxford are also editors, and therefore Open Access mean a shortfall in a portion of their income. I see no other possible argument to support the assertion that Open Access would increase costs inscritption at MIT or Oxford. To be valid, such an assertion should weigh the costs of subscriptions on one side, and the other benefits realized by Oxford University Press and the MIT publisher. Once this calculation done, it would be interesting to wonder about the legitimacy of revenues Oxford University Press by  posing the question of remuneration of authors, without which there is no publication. But there are other questions to ask: one should question the economic benefit realized that students at Oxford or MIT, that is to say the economy they make on their costs studies, due to the existence of these university presses. 
It should be noted, finally, the very particular case of Oxford or MIT, because few universities in the world have, as  Oxford, so prestigious academic presses. Therefore the overall cost of subscriptions and licenses is, in the vast majority of cases, a loss to the Universities in the world. But this argument is probably too much clear for Gapper.  

The study to which the author refers in his paper is questionable on at least one point: the reviewing of submissions is not made ​​by publishers but by academics involved in scientific journals, and they do it for free, since participate as referee for a prestigious journal is also a prestige. Such an error in a supposedly neutral investigation is somewhat strange.

Gapper assumes the  credo of  Liberal ideology:  if you remove or reduce the private benefit, then you delete or decrease efficiency. As if it was possible to compare benefits of a private entrerprise with benefits provided by an education free.

Gapper says:
 "> In any case, there will still be a
> hefty bill. About 90 per cent of
> the industry operates on
> subscription – the model
> Swartz so hated. The other 10
> per cent is now open access,
> under which researchers (or
> research funders) have to pay
> journals between $1,000 and
> $5,000 an article to cover
> publishing costs. Anyone can
> then read it free."

This statement is completely crazy. To understand how this is nonsense, simply check the usual cost of renting a dedicated server in a private company: it hardly exceeds 3,000 euros a year, and  you can host hundreds of scientific journals on such a server ! 

Gapper says: 
>" The Research
> Information Network estimated
> that, if the market moves to 90
> per cent open access, total
> costs would fall by £560m but
> universities would pay more.
> The UK would save £128m in
> library subscriptions but
> contribute £213m in fees
> because its universities publish
> a lot of research."

Reply: No evidence is done that money earned by academic publishers goes back to the universities budgets, and one can heavily doubt that it is a benefit for public universities.  

The end of Gapper's paper is some porridge for cats. But the comparison with triple A rating is illuminating vis-à-vis the political point of view of the author who seems to believe that quality of scientific journals can be estimated by rating agencies.  But such a level of ignorance could also be estimated quickly by the following thought experiment:   according Gapper, what grade would have received Galileo's theory  at the time, if there were credit rating agencies responsible for monitoring the health of academic institutions?

Finally, the quantitative comparison between open access publishing and traditional publishing does not prove that the open access publication is of lesser quality. In the software field, the universal operating system Debian ( ) is incomparably larger and richer than Windows. But the latter dominates the planet yet while being a quality and safety incomparably less than the former. 

This paper betrays only the fact his author ignores totally  the constraints and the issues of the scientific publication in general. It is the only certitude that I can draw from this reading. 
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