Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Monday, March 21, 2005

OA as a form of author control

Cees de Blaaij, Two Worlds: About Bars and Stars in Scientific Information Publishing: An Analysis of Open Source Ideology As a Means of Self-controlled Publishing, An International Journal on Grey Literature, Spring, 2005. The journal doesn't offer even an abstract free online, at least so far. However, the full-text is OA in a volume of the GL6 [Grey Literature 6] Conference Proceedings, January 2005. Abstract: 'Scientific publishing has become very profitable for several publishing companies. Information in our age has become a first rate economic asset. Another consequence is that smaller publishing companies have gradually been taken over by bigger ones. Ergo there is less competition and more concentration of economic power in the publishing sector. At the same time it has become more important for the mammoths of the publishing industry to protect these interests and give it a sturdy legal basis. This approach has triggered significant changes in intellectual property laws on a global scale. Global diversity of intellectual property became a global standard because economic powers wanted to control distribution channels to reach customers. This development did not benefit large groups of authors in general. Especially those authors who had and still have contractually obligations to the bigger publishing companies cannot make their scientific information accessible to the larger public. The simple reason for this is that the price for consumers - like libraries - has become too high. Furthermore that authors have transferred their rights to the publisher. This has resulted in a Catch 22 situation: "you-can-check-out-any-time-you-like but-you never can leave". In less poetic words: this "for profit" approach has caused an access crisis in scientific information because the ideological and legal basis of the scientific information chain has been disturbed. This article reviews this situation and analyses the viability of present efforts for publishing scientific information (including grey literature) via other kinds of publishing modes based on "open source ideology". This approach benefits authors of scientific information in general, but especially the authors of grey literature because of the public nature of this type of information. An open source approach counterweights the present economic policies of big publishing houses. The sharing of knowledge is the primary goal based on public interest. Secondly the problem of public access is guaranteed and thirdly the author(s) have more self-determination. They have more control of their situation.'