Proceedings of the NRC Chemical Sciences Roundtable Workshop, October 26, 2004.
NOTE: At the time of publication, the author Anna Gold was affiliated with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Currently, August 2008, she is Associate Dean of Public Services of Robert E. Kennedy Library at California Polytechnic State University - San Luis Obispo.
We have heard a great deal about problems of expensive scientific journals; in this last session we are focusing on some solutions to those problems. In order to see our way out of the present cost crisis, we need to broaden our view beyond the value chain associated with scientific journals: journals are part of a much larger value chain of scientific communication. This communication occurs before, during, inside, outside, and after the journal article is published. This suggests that we ought to reframe the question posed in this workshop, and ask ourselves not about the “needs” of chemical and chemical engineering journals, but rather examine the communication needs of chemists and chemical engineers. Is the publishing segment of the cycle serving the ends of the cycle as a whole? Could that segment serve the whole better than it does today? This analysis suggests that there are three critical solutions to pursue: creative commons; open access; and library-based archiving. Of these three solutions, open access to the literature of chemistry is a key to your ability to redistribute, reuse, add value to, mine, explore, and archive the record of your system of science, without the constraints of paper-based media, commercial ownership, institutional wealth, or fragmentation by publisher.