The Boston Globe calls it the scientific community’s Arab Spring. Perhaps the comparison is bombastic, but this issue actually goes beyond science. It’s a question of whether the results of our research, scholarship, and critical writing as academics will be held hostage from our own universities and completely locked away from the public view, or whether we can put aside the artificial scarcity of information that commercial publishers have created and foster better, open communications.
Our colleagues in the sciences are the main ones who are taking a stand in this particular case – a boycott of commercial, closed-access publisher Elsevier – but others can stand with them.
If you haven’t, please read about the issue with Elsevier specifically, for instance in the Chronicle and the Guardian. These are good old news stories in which one side says it’s right and then the other side says it’s right, and so on.
I wrote about open access in the digital media field back in 2007, and at that point drew some ire (along with a good bit of agreement and praise) for simply refusing to review for a closed-access journal. That discussion may be interesting to those interested in this issue, too.
And there is plenty to read about open access more generally, such as John Willinsky’s book The Access Principle: The Case for Open Access to Research and Scholarship. (Registration is required, but the full text of the book is available for free download.)
I hope that these links help to inform, and that, if you’re an academic, you’ll choose to
visit The Cost of Knowledge
and join the protest against Elsevier.
There are 5000 of us now.