Open Access

Zeteo has found itself becoming part of the open access (OA) movement, which promotes unrestricted access via the Internet to scholarly journal articles. This is an exciting, rapidly evolving movement. (In December 2012 the Directory of Open Access Journals included 8,461 journals, up by 1,133 since 2011.  That’s an average of three new journals per day!)

The purpose of this corner of the Zeteo website is to help disseminate information and encourage discussion of the issues involved. The material posted here in late 2012 may be thought of as a kind of rough draft, which we hope to be able to improve on as time goes on. As always comments are welcome.

(0) Recent links:

(1) This from a City University of New York (CUNY) Open Access website:

Open Access publishing aims to free readers and libraries from the subscription costs of scholarly journals. . . . Open Access relies on the collaboration of authors, sponsors and institutions to absorb publishing costs. . . . OA literature is primarily scientific and medical in nature, although many social science journals can be found in the Directory of Open Access Journals. Largely free of most copyright and licensing restrictions, OA literature can be read, downloaded, copied, crawled through for indexing purposes, and passed as data to software programs. The Budapest Open Access Initiative in 2002 concluded that no “financial, legal or technical barriers” should restrict this literature’s use. It may be distributed and reproduced freely and “the only role for copyright . . . should be to give authors control over the integrity of their work and the right to be properly acknowledged and cited.” (para. 3).

(2) Discontents of this approach may thus also become apparent. E.g.: how are the writers to receive financial compensation for the hours upon hours they have likely put into creating the work? (One answer is that the writers receive good salaries as professors, and these salaries are a function of how much publishing they are able to do, so the writers are well compensated, albeit indirectly. But many professors now are adjuncts, and are not so well compensated, and many interdisciplinary writers are independent scholars and may not be paid as teachers at all.)

(3) The Authors Guild has been a leader in raising concerns, not so much about open access scholarly publishing as about a whole range of unpaid or lowly paid uses of content on the Web. See, for example, a 2011 New York Times op-ed piece written by Scott Turow, Paul Aiken and James Shapiro, Would the Bard Have Survived the Web? (Scott Turow, a novelist, is the President of the Authors Guild; Paul Aiken is its executive director; and James Shapiro, a member of the Guild’s board, teaches Shakespeare at Columbia University.)

(4) But the open access movement is concerned with types of scholarly journals that traditionally have not offered their contributors sufficient financial compensation, while the publishers of those journals have often made large profits and controlled further distribution of the work. So, from this perspective, open access is clearly a step forward, and it also addresses the problem of the high costs that libraries have found themselves forced to pay for scholarly journals. (In an ideal world could libraries pay less and writers, and peer reviewers of submissions, get paid more?)

To be continued.

Some sources:

  • As of November 2012 Wikipedia was offering lots of definitions, history and charts at open access.
  • The image in the top right corner is the open access logo, designed by the Public Library of Science (PLOS, formerly PLoS), a nonprofit open access scientific publishing project aimed at creating a library of open access journals and other scientific literature.

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