Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Monday, October 29, 2007

Academic freedom includes sharing knowledge as a public good

Academic Freedom in the 21st-Century College and University, the Statement on Academic Freedom from the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), September 2007.  (Thanks to John Ober.)  Excerpt:

...Academic integrity in research, however, requires discoveries to be shared and knowledge to be considered primarily as a public good instead of a private possession.

Academic freedom requires the free exchange of ideas and information, following prudent and responsible academic and institutional standards. However, the growing commercialization of research presents problems for free exchange. For example, confidentiality agreements with business sponsors of research serve the business’s interest in restricting information to stop competitors from appropriating ideas. However, such agreements may conflict with intellectual free exchange, not allowing others to learn enough to be able to test, replicate and/or refute the theories and the evidence supporting them. This retards the development of knowledge and the potential for new discoveries....

Of course, faculty, instructional staff and other professionals performing research at the institution can, and their institutions may, legitimately claim ownership of the products —such as publications and patents— of research conducted under the auspices of the institution. But the ideas and results of research should be freely shared....