Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Monday, July 16, 2007

Jim Till reviews John Willinsky

Jim Till, Review of The Access Principle, Be openly accessible or be obscure, July 15, 2007.  Excerpt:

An invited review of The Access Principle, by John Willinsky (MIT Press, 2006) was submitted on 13 July 2007 for publication (after copyediting) in the University of Toronto Quarterly 77:1 (Winter 2007/2008) — “Letters in Canada 2006.” Publisher: The University of Toronto Press. This version (but not the submitted version) includes links to relevant URLs. I’m the author of the review. (Credit line: James E. Till, Project Open Source|Open Access, University of Toronto).

From the viewpoint of a researcher with a background in the biomedical and health sciences, John Willinsky’s book can be regarded as an experimental intervention designed to stimulate changes in the current system of scholarly publishing.

Willinsky’s book can also be classified as a policy-oriented intervention. Its goal (as stated on page 31) is ‘incremental advances in the circulation of knowledge within the academic community and beyond’. The access principle that underlies the book is the belief (as defined on page 5) that a ‘commitment to the value and quality of research carries with it a responsibility to extend the circulation of this work as far as possible, and ideally to all who are interested in it and all who might profit by it’. Routes to the provision of free access to research articles are described, such as open access repositories and open access journals. However, the emphasis is on opening access, that is, on ways to increase access to the outputs of scholarship and research, rather than on any particular inflexible definition of open access.

Experimental interventions need to be evaluated....

[M]ost evaluations of the book have been quite positive....

There’s another experimental intervention that’s been fostered by John Willinsky and is described in the book. It’s the Open Journal Systems (OJS), open source software for journal management and publishing that is having substantial ongoing impact. As of March 2007, over 900 titles were using OJS, in ten languages. One recent example is a new open access Canadian general medical journal, Open Medicine. It seems likely that the OJS may have much greater impact on scholarly publishing over the longer term than will Willinsky’s book....