Dear Father Christmas, My wish goes towards allowing any researcher free access to current scientific information -- and when I say free, I mean without any constraint of fees, subscription, copyright. And what would be better than having open archives/repositories? ... How to get out of this dilemma? Recently, in France and Germany, lawmakers wrote a new law, punishing anybody intending to infringe copyright with enormous fines... My fellow European scientists are afraid and no longer dare to express their ideas....
REPLY FROM FATHER XMAS, NORTH POLE:
Dear little boys and girls everywhere who yearn for Open Access:
Yes, there is a way that you can have the Open Access you say you so fervently desire. But Father Christmas cannot give it to you, any more than Father Christmas can give you big muscles, if that is what you yearn for. All Father Christmas can do is tell you how you yourselves can build the big muscles you desire (by exercising daily with increasing weights). And for Open Access it is exactly the same: It depends entirely on you, dear children, each and every one of you.
Nor can you build big muscles from one day to the other. If you try to lift too heavy a weight, too early, you only cause yourself muscle strain. So don't insist on too much overnight. Start with one simple fact that is easy to assimilate: There is nothing whatsoever -- nothing physical, nothing legal -- that prevents you from depositing your own final, peer-reviewed drafts (postprints) of every single one of your own current research journal articles in an OAI-compliant Institutional Repository, right now: Nothing. Not copyright law. Not technology. Not cost. Not expertise. No point in writing to Father Christmas to wish for that, because it is already entirely in your own hands:
The journal in which it is published does not yet endorse immediate OA self-archiving? Then, for the time being, set access to the deposit as Closed Access rather than Open Access for as long as the journal embargoes access. But do the deposit now.
That's all. If all the little boys and girls did that before Christmas this year, on Christmas day all the current research worldwide would be visible worldwide, 62% of it already Open Access (because 62% of journals already endorse immediate OA self-archiving).
For the remaining 38% deposited in Closed Access, the metadata (author, title, journalname, date etc.) would be immediately visible worldwide, so any user who wanted to access the full-text could immediately email the author to request an eprint by email....
[I]nstead of just writing to St. Nick, I suggest writing to the Principal, Rector, Vice-Chancellor or Provost of your school...asking that the school itself should make this digital muscle-building part of its standard athletic curriculum for all its pupils -- making the keystrokes mandatory for all of you -- then that mandate will ensure OA self-archiving its proper place in your hierarchy of priorities. The rewards will be felt in your year-end marks...because self-archiving builds the citations as surely as it builds muscles....
Your faithful old Kris Kringle
Peter Suber at 12/23/2007 10:57:00 AM.
The open access movement:
Putting peer-reviewed scientific and scholarly literature
on the internet. Making it available free of charge and
free of most copyright and licensing restrictions.
Removing the barriers to serious research.