The birdies have spoken; the Loon has received several emails about the fate of RUSQ, and the information in them reconciles nicely, suggesting that they are largely truthful. Rather than reproduce them verbatim (possibly exposing their senders), the Loon will summarize:
- RUSQ went closed when it discontinued its print edition and moved the online one to MetaPress. This happened at the start of volume 51, the Fall 2011 issue. RUSQ’s open-access experiment therefore lasted just shy of five years.
- According to RUSQ, the latest four issues (one year’s worth) are access-restricted to RUSA members and subscribers, after which they are opened on MetaPress. (Confirmation of this would be welcome; the Loon’s institution is a subscriber, so she can’t easily test this.)
- RUSQ also opens on JSTOR after a three-year (twelve-issue) embargo. Again, confirmation welcome.
- The only justification for re-closure the Loon saw in her correspondence was “production costs.” These were not enumerated, nor was any information proffered regarding how RUSQ’s years of open access had affected paying subscriptions or memberships.
- The RUSA board approved all these changes. How the changes were presented to them the Loon doesn’t know. (In other words, the RUSA board may or may not have held a referendum on open access for RUSQ. The Loon wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the implications to open access of the change of platform were never clear to the board.)
The Loon noted a certain tone of tension and annoyance from certain of the correspondents, also a certain disdain for the questioners. She thinks this unfortunate, of course, but she is not surprised by it. Time was, these questions were purely internal matters with very little room for manoeuvre and only a diminutive perceived ethical dimension. Clearly that’s changing. Equally clearly, not all journal boards have caught up to the change—the threatening static the Loon got for openly calling out Elsevier journal boards in library and information studies attests to that!
Again, the Loon doesn’t necessarily fault RUSA’s decisionmaking with respect to RUSQ. She doesn’t have enough information about it to do a reasonable analysis (some of the lacunae are hinted at above). She believes that RUSQ is potentially a fascinating and worthwhile case study, and she hopes that RUSA and the RUSQ board will consider additional transparency about the entire history of the RUSQ open-access experiment.
The Loon has more to say about gold open access and libraries; since it will take time to articulate and several readers are curious about the RUSQ situation, though, she’ll let this post stand as is.
- RUSQ’s camouflage
- Calling their bluff