Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Another Victory for the Open Access Movement

Today's issue of Inside Higher Ed has an article on a recent victory for the open access movement. The presidents of 53 liberal arts colleges (called the "Oberlin group" because the effort was organized at Oberlin College) issued a joint letter on Tuesday expressing their support for the Federal Public Research Access Act. "In July, the provosts of 25 research universities came out in favor of the legislation, saying that the current system of research publishing leads to outrageously high journal costs that are harming libraries and making it impossible for people to follow research." The interest of the college presidents goes beyond the financial; according to Nancy S. Dye, president of Oberlin College, there is also "'a philosophical view' that is spreading: 'Knowledge is made to be shared.'"

Predictably, there was opposition from the Association of American Publishers. Alan Adler, vice president for legal and government affairs, "charged that colleges are looking for short-term financial gain at the expense of journal publishers." Adler also said that peer review ensures the high quality of scholarly journals, and that the open access model does not provide the funds to support that. In what has to be the most outlandish argument against open access that I've heard so far, Adler said that "it was in the national interest for it to be restricted to those who could pay subscription fees. 'Remember--you're talking about free online access to the world,' he said. 'You are talking about making our competitive research available to foreign governments and corporations.'" President Dye of Oberlin rightly shot down this argument, "noting that any journal available for a fee in the United States is hardly limited to American readership, and that such an approach is antithetical to science." Perhaps Adler doesn't understand that research, in all disciplines, has always built on the work of others, wherever they happened to be located, or perhaps he just doesn't care.


Betsy McKenzie said...

Take a look at Nick Anthis' blog entry about the scientific community's mixed reaction to the law requiring recipients of federal grant money to publish "open access science:", also at the earlier posting here on OOTJ on the matter:
(May 8, 2006). Sorry about the URLS!

Betsy McKenzie said...

See a report here on Microsoft officials trying to change the language of a report from the Secretary of Education's Commission on the Future of Higher Education draft to delete endorsement of development of open source software and open content projects in higher education: