Academic research should be openly accessible to all. Many commercial publishers as well as professional organizations have hijacked academic publishing for corporate and organizational gain. These practices must end. These practices constitute open access crimes. The Max Planck Society offers a helpful definition of “open access” in this context:
In the scientific sphere, the term “Open Access” refers to unrestricted and cost-free access to scientific information on the Internet. Accordingly, users should have the right not only to read a publication, but also to distribute it to a wider circle and to make use of it, for instance for the purposes of teaching. The original author must, of course, always be credited. A more precise definition of Open Access is provided in the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities.
Publication on the Internet without expressly transferring rights to the users in the meaning mentioned above does not meet the requirements of Open Access. Concerns that Open Access contravenes the rules of good scientific practice are unfounded, given that the same rules apply here as apply to conventional publications (ban on plagiarism, improper adaptation, etc.).
The call for Open Access is additionally motivated by the trend in the cost of scientific journals, which has led to the phenomenon dubbed the journal crisis. Many supporters of Open Access hope it will not only improve accessibility but also serve to keep costs down.
For more on the value and importance of sharing, see the “On Sharing” page of Oklahoma EDUshare.
Open access journals offer a way forward. The LOCKSS (Lots Of Copies Keep Stuff Safe) Program and Portico are two open access initiatives. Oxford Open Journals are fully open access. See Matthew T. Dearing’s 1 Feb 2012 post, “The Rise Of Open Access Scientific Publishing” for more updates.
If you publish in academic journals or aspire to publish in them, you need to both understand these issues and embrace the ethic of open access publishing for academic work. As we work within professional organizations, we should advocate for open access publishing instead of paywalls. Together, we can stop open access crimes like these.
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