Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Open Access to Academic Journals?

There was a conference at Southampton University in England this past week on providing open access to scholarly information over the internet.

Though I'm strongly in favor of open access, I don't know how this model would work. Scholarly journals make most of their money from institutional subscriptions, which only make sense if material is not easily available for free to anyone.

What is being suggested at Southampton is a model where scholars archive their published works on their university servers. The universities, not the journals, provide the open content. But why would the journals allow or encourage this? Don't they have the publication rights? Or maybe I just don't understand what is being proposed.

That said, according to the article in the Guardian, most publishers in Europe at least are in favor of allowing open access for materials that are self-archived.


Kerim Friedman said...

This is something I've written a little about.

Suresh said...

NIH is now mandating public access for papers published from NIH funded research (the rationale being that the taxpaying public has a right to access the material).

But you are right in that the business models haven't been fleshed out. PLoS has an 'author-pays' model, which basically means that the grant agencies fund the publication of articles.

Anand said...

I guess the academics should stay together and advocate "open access" more vigourously. In the present model, we write the papers (free), we do the refereeing (free), and then we pay -- often substantial figures -- to read our own stuff! In Math and Physics, most authors make their preprints available @ arXiv, which can be accessed by anybody. Journals do not really lose anything by this arrangement, as institutional subscriptions will continue to remain, since only journals ensure peer refereeing, and in turn 'almost error-freeness' of the papers. A reader can kind of trust a paper in a prestigious journal, while that's not the case with sth like arXiv.

Jeremy Boggs said...

"the rationale being that the taxpaying public has a right to access the material"

That's a good argument for open access , that it makes research readily available to the public at large. For the most part, public money is used to fund research, pay faculty salaries, pay for subscriptions (via institutions) et cetera, but the results of that research aren't very public.

I'm actually writing about this for my minor field in History and New Media. Thanks for the post, sorry I'm so late to the discussion.