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Jean-Claude Guedon

Professor of Comparative Literature at the University of Montreal

Ensuring the creation of symbolic and institutional value in open access

After a decade or so of debates, we understand the functions of scholarly journals much better. In particular, with the advent of digitization and networks, we realize more and more that journals are really validation mechanisms that select out the pieces of work entitled to enter the scientific or scholarly arena.

Within the open access movement, two paths have been outlined - one based on the existing journal structure, but with a financial support that does not toll-gate research results, the other based on self archiving. Open access journals really reproduce the standard validation mechanism. If they are converted, existing, journals, their basic challenge is to develop a good financial plan. Various solutions exist which will not be discussed here. If they are new journals, they must also establish a reputation to attract good papers. PLoS and BioMed Central journals face this challenge.

In the case of self archiving, the first challenge is to find ways to encourage authors that have their articles already published in existing, traditional, journals to go the extra step and self-archive in open access repositories. Why should they do so? The second challenge is to endow repositories with validation mechanisms that would provide a service equivalent to those of journals.

Both journals and self-archiving repositories face the issue of value building.

The point of the presentation will be to examine a few strategies that can help address the value issue, which is crucial. It will also be to show that, from the perspective of value, both open access paths outlined in the Budapest OA initiative can easily help each other and ultimately converge.

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