Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Open Access Day

Today, Oct 14, 2008, is “Open Access Day,” an event designed to help spread the word about the importance of Open Access (OA) publishing. Bloggers have been invited to address several questions, so here goes:

Why does Open Access matter to you?

  • Published papers have more readers and more impact if they are openly available on the internet. I want MY papers to have more impact, and I want papers published in my fields to have more impact.
  • I do a lot of research online. When papers by OTHERS are posted online, this is a BIG HELP is speeding up research.
  • Much of my published research is of interest to colleagues and others in Mexico (and in other countries). Few people in Mexico have access to JSTOR or institutional electronic journal subscriptions, yet they should be able to read published papers as easily as I can at a U.S. university.
  • Information—particularly research published in peer-reviewed journals—should be freely available to all those who need it. It bugs the heck out of me that journals try to charge me (and others) fees to access articles that I have written on my own time (that is, without monetary compensation).

    How did you first become aware of it?
  • When I taught at SUNY-Albany, Lorre Smith of the Library organized a series of workshops on Open Access, and I attended parts of a couple of these. I thought that the principles were eminently reasonable, but I was busy with other things and didn’t worry too much about it. Two of the speakers I heard were Peter Suber and Steven Harnad. When I started thinking about OA and reading up on it (in 2007), I located and read their work and found it inspiring.
  • In the past few years I have expanded my research and publishing beyond my normal topics, and I found it MUCH EASIER to get quickly into a new field when colleagues posted their reprints on their web sites. Among the first I found were Samuel Bowles and Herbert Gintis (both associated with the Santa Fe Institute). The usefulness of this practice impressed me, so I started posting my own papers on my web site at Albany (where one colleague accused me of shameless self-promotion; I guess she thought it better to toil away in semi-obscurity). Here are my papers.

    Why should scientific and medical research be an open-access resource for the world?
  • Research that is done with public funds should be widely available to the public. It’s hard to argue against this notion.
  • Research that is done by scholars without monetary compensation should be freely available to the research community. This is based on the notions that there are communities of scholars and that research works best when information is freely shared within the relevant communities. The fact that commercial publishers get rich on our research by restricting access to it really steams me.

    What do you do to support Open Access, and what can others do?
  • I am trying to get my university to establish an institutional repository. Others can do this also.
  • I use the SPARC Author’s Addendum for new journal articles to retain some basic rights in my own work. Others can do this too.
  • I try to educate colleagues about OA.
  • I promote OA on this blog.
  • I try to promote OA in the professional societies I belong to (the Society for American Archaeology and the American Anthropological Association). This will be a long road; the SAA is very conservative in its practices, and the AAA actively works against OA.
  • I have looked into starting an OA journal. At the time I could not assemble the editorial board I wanted so I dropped the idea, but I will probably return to the idea of an OA journal at some point.


Regis said...

Open Access.

Tanois said...


Does a very good review about the obscene profits some online journals are making. I think the number they cite for Reed-Elsevier is something along the lines of 8 Billion dollars off of other peoples work.