Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Friday, November 09, 2007

Preference for digital texts

Andrea Foster, Faculty Members Prefer Digitized Texts, Wired Campus, November 8, 2007.  Excerpt:

Faculty members overwhelmingly prefer using online material to printed material, according to the results of a survey released this week by Ebrary, a company that provides electronic content and technology to libraries, publishers, and other businesses.

The survey shows that half of faculty members prefer electronic resources, and 18 percent prefer print. Another 32 percent said they had no preference.

Also, 77 percent of those surveyed said electronic journals “provide more effective access for most of my research” or “are easier to use for most of my research.”

The results were based on responses of 906 faculty members from 300 colleges and 38 countries. Ebrary sought respondents via its Web site....


  • It helps OA that faculty are accepting online digital texts as working texts.  But it's not necessary for OA.  For example, I myself prefer print for close study.  When I really have to read something carefully, I make a printout and mark it up.  All OA texts can be printed, even if not all printed texts can be OA.  But even when I work from a printout, I take advantage of the OA edition for initial access, subsequent searching, cutting/pasting, linking/sharing, and new work presupposing that colleagues have access to the same text I do.
  • What really helps OA is the realization that online texts and journals are more accessible and easier to use.  You may have to be a certain age to remember that promotion and tenure committees formerly looked askance at online scholarship, as if quality depended on medium.  This prejudice is disappearing today but not gone.  BTW, toll-access journal publishers are helping it disappear by launching online editions and discontinuing print editions.  What's most heartening about the ebrary survey results is the evidence that this prejudice will soon be gone and soon after replaced by a preference for digital flexibility and online access.