Coping with the financial crisis, without OA

The Research Information Network (RIN) has released a two-page analysis of the effect of the economic meltdown on research access, Scholarly books and journals at risk, March 2009.  From the statement:

Scholarly journals and publications play an essential role in communicating, recording, certifying, disseminating and preserving research findings. So researchers in the UK must have access to the fullest possible range of scholarly literature. Otherwise, the UK’s ability to support and undertake the research and teaching of the highest quality, for which it is internationally recognised, will be compromised….

The current economic difficulties across the globe bring serious risks to scholarly books and journals. In the UK, the recent dramatic fall in the value of sterling has seriously damaged university library purchasing budgets….

Savage cuts in journal subscriptions, with a consequent reduction – even reversal – in access to scholarly resources would run counter to all that has been achieved over the past decade in widening access for researchers and students. Restricting or rationing access to research in this way makes no sense….

To avoid compromising the scope and quality of research and teaching in higher education, and consequent damage to the UK economy, everybody involved – universities, funding bodies, researchers, librarians, and publishers – must work together. Collectively, we must do all we can to minimise the risks arising from the current economic difficulties. We call on all the key stakeholder groups to work together to find creative, practical and sustainable ways to ensure that the scholarly publications link in the chain from genius to wealth creation is not damaged beyond repair.

Comment.  The topic is important and the analysis timid.  The statement doesn’t mention OA once, in any context, let alone as a possible solution, or partial solution, to the loss of access to priced research.  For an analysis of the same problem willing to speak the unspeakable, see the ARL Statement to Scholarly Publishers on the Global Economic Crisis from last month:

…Libraries serving research organizations are increasingly receptive to models that provide open access to content published by their affiliated authors in addition to traditional subscription access to titles. This kind of model can form a bridge from subscription models to models incorporating author-side payments….

For my own analysis, that the economic crisis strengthens the case for OA, much as the climate crisis strengthens the case for wind, solar, and geothermal energy, see my open letter to Obama and McCain from last November and my predictions for 2009 from last December.