Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Open Access - Who Stands to Lose and How?

The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University is the latest to join the open access movement. Implementation of the open access policy, which will make all faculty scholarly articles freely available on the web, follows on the heels of Dr. Peter Suber's February 26, 2009 guest lecture, "What is the Future of Open Access?" at Harvard University's Berkman Center for Internet & Society.

In Greater Reach for Your Research: Expanding Readership Through Digital Repositories, the Canadian Association of Research Libraries and SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) explain that "Open Access is the principle that research should be accessible online, for free, immediately after publication. Digital repositories deliver Open Access to the materials they contain." (2008, p. 3). Among the many benefits are long-term preservation, persistent and universal access, faster discovery of information, broad and diverse content, and ensuring that students at every stage of education and life have access to scholarly information regardless of a schools' resources.

If making scholarly information available to the masses is a powerful, compelling, and democratizing argument for open access, what are the strongest and most interesting arguments against it? I'm going to need a little help making them interesting, but there is little doubt that the loudest voices speaking against open access will be those whose bottom line stands to lose. These would seem to be publishers and subscription databases, and their employees of course. In the present economic climate, we are all sensitized to the varying stability of our jobs and those of our family, friends, and neighbors.
I will admit I know very little of the specific financial interests that stand to lose. With this blog entry I challenge myself to learn more and welcome others to share their knowledge and experience on point.
Canadian Association of Research Libraries & SPARC, Greater Reach for Your Research: Expanding Readership Through Digital Repositories (Nov. 2008), available at http://www.carl-abrc.ca/projects/author/sparc_repositories.pdf
Peter Suber, What is the Future of Open Access? (Feb. 26, 2009), available at http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/events/2009/02/suber
Press Release, Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard Kennedy School Faculty Votes for Open Access for Scholarly Articles (March 16, 2009), available at http://www.hks.harvard.edu/news-events/news/press-releases/open-access-vote

No comments:

Post a Comment

Your thoughtful comments are always welcome.
- Lap Cat Scholar