Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Behind Swarthmore's support for FRPAA

David Lau, Bloom signs letter supporting open access to researchThe Phoenix, September 14, 2006.  Excerpt:

On Sept. 6, a group of 56 presidents from various liberal arts colleges around the country issued an open letter supporting the Federal Research Public Access Act of 2006 [FRPAA]. This letter, which was co-signed by Swarthmore College President Al Bloom, brought the issue of open access research further to the forefront of higher-level education.

[President Bloom] was pleased to [sign the letter] for precisely the reasons the letter urges support of the legislation, Vice President Maurice Eldridge 61 said in an e-mail....

In a nutshell, the basic idea [of open access] is that academic research should be published in venues without restrictions to use, Department of History Professor Timothy Burke said. We as a college are supporting faculty to carry out research which the academic author receives nothing for, and then the library has to pay to be able to read it. This is a bizarre economic irrationality. ...

[College Librarian Peggy Seiden] was happy at the progress that was being made, particularly in Congress. Im generally supportive of the open access movement, in most ways that its been defined, she said. I think its important for faculty and their institutions to retain ownership of information and not cede rights to publishers. Im certainly happy this is on the congressional agenda. For too long, libraries have had to lead the effort to reform scholarly communication on our own.

Burke said that the support for open access makes sense for most faculty who publish their research. What you accrue [through your publishing] is reputation capital, all of which helps you, he said. What are the conditions of circulation that will help you? As much circulation as possible.

He also expressed hope that the administration would continue its efforts in pushing for a higher degree of open access research. I know theres a lot of interest and discussion between college presidents and college provosts, and the leaders understand that open access is a no-brainer that helps financially and ethically. Its a win-win situation.

Vice President Eldridge agreed with Burkes viewpoint about the advantages of open access. I suspect that open access would not change fundamentally the way that faculty and students conduct their research so much as enhance and perhaps even streamline the process, he said.