Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Review of the Neil Jacobs anthology

Michael Gutiérrez has written a review of Neil Jacobs (ed.), Open Access: Key strategic, technical and economic aspects, Chandos Publishing, 2006.  (Thanks to Garrett Eastman.)  Excerpt:

If you know nothing about the open access debate, then this book will surely inform you and make you an advocate for the cause. "Open Access: Key Strategic, Technical and Economic Aspects" is composed of twenty thoughtfully researched and well written chapters that bring the open access debate into the public sphere.

The open access dispute has been raging in the scholarly world for more than a decade, tracing part of its origins to the 'serial crisis' that began in academic libraries more than twenty years ago. Neil Jacobs has gathered leaders in this debate to contribute their thoughts, observations and research toward a book that can be equally appreciated by scholars as well as the general public....

[A] succinct open access definition is developed by Charles W. Bailey, Jr., which assists readers and scholars in understanding the concepts and reasons behind the open access debate.

The second half of the book is devoted to the economic aspect of open access and its effect in other countries. These chapters present a major argument of the book, which contends that open access is more economically effective for the publishing industry as well as academic libraries. Other chapters look at open access around the world, but focus mainly on the industrialised world, including the United States, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. India is given as the only example of a newly industrialised country dealing with the open access debate....

While reading "Open Access", I found that there was not much attention given to the legal aspects of the open access debate. In fact, only Clifford Lynch, in his futuristic chapter on open access, spends some time discussing the legal challenges of an open access reality. In addition, the book has a distinct Eurocentric focus that detracts slightly from the notion that open access is a worldwide concern.

In his chapter, Stevan Harnad openly asks, 'Is open access needed?' He concludes that it is needed because the evidence suggests that access has not been maximised. The chapters in this book do the same to present the case for open access. Neil Jacobs has done a considerable task of organising this book to build upon each authors' line of reasoning to support the open access argument.

I would highly recommend this book for its excellent overview of the open access debate as well as its ability to discuss a complex argument so concisely. This book should be viewed as a cornerstone in bringing the open access debate into the public forum -- a discussion that will be benefits scholars, researchers and the public worldwide.

Disclosure:  I wrote the chapter on Open Access in the United States.