A Civil Debate about Open Access

Looking at these two articles about open access and scholarly publishing has made me aware of an online (and open access) journal that I did not know about before, “Script-ed” is the online journal of the Research Centre for Studies in Intellectual Property and Technology.  If these two articles, and the titles of others I have yet to read, are an accurate measure, this is an excellent publication for all interested in “law and technologies in the broadest sense.”

The two articles I want to recommend here are about the cost of open access to publishers, who fear loss of revenue if OA were to become the norm in the academic world, versus the social costs of continuing as things are, where fewer and fewer people have access to significant research as the toll for access to subscription journals rises.

From the perspective of an academic publisher, Kevin Taylor’s article is a calm and reasonable account of the current situation.  He recommends, and apparently practices at Cambridge University Press, where he is IP Director, sensible and even enlightened copyright policies for academic publishing.  It is only when he talks specifically about open access that he raises some fears that are not very well-founded.

In his response to Taylor’s article, A.A. Adams carefully refutes these fears and offers a font of helpful information about open access.  Perhaps his most important point is that book publishing in the academic world is very different that the business of publishing journal articles.  Academic authors do not write articles to gain direct economic benefit, which makes OA an important and entirely beneficial option in the world of articles, where it might be more contested if we were talking about monographs.

Adams’ section on “Routes to Open Access” is a superb introduction to the arcane jargon of the OA movement, explaining very clearly what green and gold OA are and how the various versions of these two “roads” to OA can work.