Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Roundup of blog posts on OA Day, part 5

Here's a sampling of what people were writing about on Open Access Day, in no particular order:

What Open Access Means to Me, Plausible Accuracy, October 14, 2008.

It is both remarkable and shameful that science, a field concerned with the cutting edge of technology and knowledge, remains largely confined to an archaic framework of information sharing and retrieval.  The foundations behind this framework were built in the days when the only ways to exchange ideas was via intermittent personal contact or by the regular distribution of printed journals.  Over time, the journal publishers have failed to keep pace with both the changing ways in which to produce their product as well as the means by which their customers obtain it.  ... In spite of this movement from paper-bound copies to electronic (presumably a less costly medium), journal subscription fees have continued to rise.  This leads to a reduction in access to the information.

Putting the fruits of scientific investigations behind access barriers of any kind is fundamentally the wrong choice.  There are many reasons for this, both monetary and moral.  In many cases the work is funded by the taxpayer, who must then pay a second time in order to view the data.  Although this is often the main argument used to press for Open Access, it is not the most important in my opinion.  I believe that access to the information should be free regardless of funding source, as a service to the greater good of humanity.  Scientific knowledge cannot be fully utilized unless anyone who desires it has access. ...

Kate, Open Access Day, a k8, a cat, a mission., October 14, 2008.
... Open access would make [scientific] information available to everyone. But it would also open up a whole new population of people who can criticize peer-reviewed research, who can have conversations about it, who can become experts in their own right. Given access to information, every person can be a scholar. Every person can generate hypotheses and test them with the literature; every person can comment on research and its validity. We all have good human minds, and I do not believe that some minds are better than others. It makes sense to make all this information accessible so that we can all learn together.

Dr. Crazy over at Reassigned Time once wrote beautifully about the experiences that led to her becoming a scholar. It made me think about the tug many students feel between choosing a major that will help your vocation, and choosing a major that reflects something you love. Imagine what it would be like not only if students could freely choose either, but could continue scholarly reading, thinking and writing on whatever topics they chose before, beyond, or without college.

I can't tell you the number of times I have had conversations with family members several decades older than me who look at my job -- a job that is a real job, and it is hard, and it is time-consuming and stressful, yes, but a job where I get to think for myself for a good chunk of every day, where I learn new things all the time, where my mind is considered good -- and say, wistfully, "you know, I'm a very curious person." What I suspect they mean is that they are as enthralled with learning as I am, that they are very smart and don't get to use that intelligence as a laborer or lunch lady or stay at home parent that much. But why, because their vocation doesn't have room for it, should their lives be shut from these things as well? My aunts and uncles and cousins are smart, curious humans, and they have as much to contribute to our thinking about the literature as I do. ...
Fiona Bradley, Happy Open Access Day!, Semantic Library, October 14, 2008.

... Libraries have long provided infrastructure for research - subscribing to journals and databases, buying books, and providing computers and buildings for people to work in. The capacity for libraries to do this varies enormously around the world. Libraries in many developing countries canít afford to provide the same level of access as in other countries. Researchers in developing nations (or even Australia) are affected by the tendency of major journals to be published in the US and Europe. If they want to publish their research, they usually need to have to do so in these journals. The cost of buying journals in which these researchers publish can be prohibitive, effectively restricting access to their own research.

Beyond issues of cost, research should be available to everyone, regardless of affiliation or reason, because making research Open Access enables us all to build upon each otherís work, and to learn new insights. ...

Michael E. Smith, Open Access Day, Publishing Archaeology, October 14, 2008.
... Research that is done by scholars without monetary compensation should be freely available to the research community. This is based on the notions that there are communities of scholars and that research works best when information is freely shared within the relevant communities. The fact that commercial publishers get rich on our research by restricting access to it really steams me. ...
Mike Caulfield, Happy Open Access Day!, OpenCourseWare blog, October 14, 2008.
... You need only to flip through the reading lists of OCW courses to see why OA is a crucial part of the OER ecosystem. When producing courseware, courseware creators have to include in their reading lists many articles that are not freely available. While it may be trivial for a student enrolled at an institution to get these materials via the library, or some firewalled electronic repository, for many users of OpenCourseWare, the lack of access is a show-stopper.

With Open Access, OCW can reach its democratic potential. Just as OCW opens up possibilities for those students without access to the classroom, OA opens up possibilities for those without access to the library. Itís really that simple. ...