Open Access News

News from the open access movement


Saturday, April 28, 2007

Harvard op-ed in support of OA

Gregory N. Price and Elizabeth M. Stark, Access for All, Harvard Crimson, April 27, 2007.  Price is a mathematics student and Stark a law student at Harvard.  They are founding members of Harvard College Free Culture.  Excerpt:

Our professors do the research. They write the papers and proofread them. They even do the peer review. Then they sign the copyright over to publishers, who don’t pay them a dime —they’re paid by grants and salary, our taxes, and tuition.

Harvard then pays again for the journals —many of them over $10,000 each— and most of us feel personally the bite each term when we buy our sourcebooks. Many of these cost upwards of $100 not because they’re on paper rather than online (printing costs pennies a page), but because of the fees charged by publishers like Elsevier (1,387 journals ranging across academia) and Wiley (348 journals), some higher than $1 per page.

That’s three ways we pay for the same research, writing, proofreading, and peer review. Even Harvard has found the cost too high, and has cut down on its subscriptions....

Most universities cannot begin to afford the journal prices for which even Harvard strains to pay....

If this situation sounds ridiculous to you, you’re not alone....

Peer review is as important as ever —nobody gets credit for work that doesn’t pass that scrutiny— but as these scientists have discovered, it doesn’t have to get in the way of open access....

Students can make several big contributions to this movement. Members of Congress need to hear from their constituents in support of the Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA), a bipartisan bill to make taxpayer-funded published research —most scientific work in the U.S.— freely available. Students can explain to their professors why they should publish in open access journals when available, and better yet why the University should establish a freely-available repository for all Harvard researchers’ work. Best of all, seniors can set an example now by making their theses available to the world at [the new Harvard thesis repository]. Each of us can show politicians, faculty members, and present and future colleagues that we value open access to academic research. It’s up to us to say it: Knowledge is for everyone.