Gavia Libraria

Shoes and other feet

One aspect of the Research Works Act fracas is generating some little schadenfreude in the Loon’s feathered breast. Small doses of schadenfreude are healthy, so she’ll share.

Faculty and researchers generally display a stubborn sense of entitlement matched only by human three-year-olds. So much as suggesting to them that some of their existing practices deserve reconsideration spurs rather remarkable tantrums. (Don’t you even suggest to the Loon they don’t. The Loon has a quiltful of singed and plucked feathers to show you.)

Historically, the burden of creating praxis change has rested with open-access advocates. “Self-archive,” we said. “Try these new journals,” we said. “There’s more to life than journal impact factor,” we said. And because faculty thought all these things threatened faculty autonomy—”I’ll publish where I damn please, thank you, and I won’t pay a damn penny for it, either!”—the blowback was severe.

With the Research Works Act, the shoe is on the other foot. “Don’t self-archive,” says the AAP. “Don’t enact mandates,” says the AAP, “and if you’re subject to one, don’t follow it.” “Don’t share your data,” says the AAP.

(That last bit is intriguing and appalling all by itself. There isn’t a thriving market in data-sharing. Yet. But because publishers don’t want to manage data—it’s a significant cost center, and they don’t see how they can make any more money off it, openness being most of the point—they don’t want anybody else changing the market in favor of data-sharing, or promoting data to a first-class research product. The Loon is agog at the dog-in-mangering here. How dare AAP members call themselves research advocates? How dare they?)

Faculty don’t like to hear “don’t.” Not from librarians, and not even from publishers. It doesn’t even matter what the “don’t” is, or whether they’ve ever done the thing they’re being told not to do. Encroach on faculty entitlement only at great risk.

Welcome to the Loon’s hell, publishers. You won’t enjoy it. The Loon sure didn’t.