Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Ringing an OA subtotal for OneWebDay

Gavin Baker, Sixteen and counting: sharing science on the Web, This place is pretty ugly, September 22, 2007.  Excerpt:

...[T]oday – OneWebDay – seems an opportune moment to consider where we are going.

What, then, became of the Web’s original goal: to enable scientists to share information?

First, the good news. A vibrant and growing movement has developed to lobby and labor for the cause of access to scientific information – not only for other scientists, but for everyone. An impressive array of thinkers and civic leaders have collaborated to build remarkable software, Web sites, journals, organizations, and legal code. The models they have constructed are more equitable, more sustainable, and more effective at promoting human development.

With open access, the cost of scholarly communication is no longer a royalty, but an investment. The result is the ability to do better science, more quickly, for less cost.

The members of the open access movement are no mere theorists:

  • Nearly 3,000 peer-reviewed academic journals are now made freely available online, in full text, from the minute the newest issue is released.
  • Of the journals that do not provide free access themselves, the overwhelming majority nevertheless permit their authors to post their own articles for free access on a Web site at their university or in their discipline.
  • Funders of research, both public and private, are increasingly requiring their grantees to make their resulting articles available online for free.

Following behind academic journal literature is a move for access to scientific data. The Nature family of journals has editorialized in favor of free online access to this data and adopted policies to encourage its authors to comply. Along with data sets, the sharing of data artifacts such as laboratory images and computer visualizations will not be long. By the day, the tools to collect, search, and manipulate these data improve.

A few bold researchers are going so far as to invite their colleagues – and the public – into the process of research as it takes place....And many of today’s students – a generation which grew up the Web – are sharing their academic work as naturally as they share photos from their summer vacation.

There are challenges to be solved, technical as well as social and political. But as the evidence accumulates, much apprehension dissolves, and stakeholder consensus aligns in favor of open access. Piece by piece – or, since this is the Web, should I say bit by bit? – an information commons grows. Sixteen years later, we are here.

The Web was built for scientists to share information. Let’s make it happen....