Open Access News

News from the open access movement


Saturday, February 10, 2007

OA journals are a no-brainer

Ben Goldacre, Open access and the price of knowledge, The Guardian, February 10, 2007.  Excerpt:

There are some things which are so self-evidently right and good that it's hard to imagine how anyone could disagree with you. The "open access" academic journal movement is one of those things. It is a no-brainer. Academic literature should be freely available: developing countries need access; part-time tinkering thinkers like you deserve full access; journalists and the public can benefit; and most importantly of all, you have already paid for much of this stuff with your taxes. They are important new ideas from humanity, and morally, you are entitled to them.

But with old school academic journals, unless you have an institutional subscription, you have to pay to read them. Here is a not-so-fun example: an article called Impediments to promoting access to global knowledge in sub-Saharan Africa, about how difficult it is to get access to medical literature in developing countries, and how lack of access to knowledge represents a barrier to economic development and a further advantage for the rich west.  Get your credit card ready, this single study will cost you $25 (13) plus tax to read.

Two online, open access publishing organisations have led the fight against the absurdity: ...PLoS...[and] BioMed Central....

But meanwhile, the old school, pay-for-access journals are so worried about open access that they've hired Eric Dezenhall, the famous American "pitbull of PR", and author of Nail 'Em! Confronting High-Profile Attacks on Celebrities and Businesses, to aggressively promote their interests, and undermine open access....

For reader comments on this article, see the author's blog entry on it.

Comment.  So far, so good.  But remember that OA is also possible through OA repositories, not only through OA journals.  Authors who want OA can submit their work to OA journals or deposit their peer-reviewed manuscripts in OA repositories (called self-archiving or OA archiving).  To increase the amount of OA for readers and users, support the national OA policies, like FRPAA, which uniformly depend upon OA archiving rather than OA journals.  To see such a policy adopted across Europe, sign the petition to the EC to mandate OA to publicly-funded research.

Update. See the STM response to Goldacre's article, February 13, 2007.