I’ve been enthusiastic about OA (open access to academic texts) for a number of years. I don’t tend to be extremely active in the OA milieu but I do use every opportunity I can to talk about OA, both in formal academic contexts and in more casual and informal conversation.
My own views about Open Access are that it should be plain common-sense, for both scholars and “the public.” Not that OA is an ultimate principle, but it seems so obvious to me that OA can be beneficial in a large range of contexts. In fact, I tend to conceive of academia in terms of Open Access. In my mind, a concept related to OA runs at the very core of the academic enterprise and helps distinguish it from other types of endeavours. Simply put, academia is the type of “knowledge work ” which is oriented toward openness in access and use.
Historically, this connection between academic work and openness has allegedly been the source of the so-called “Open Source movement” with all its consequences in computing, the Internet, and geek culture.
Quite frequently, OA advocates focus (at least in public) on specific issues related to Open Access. An OA advocate put it in a way that made me think it might have been a precaution, used by OA advocates and activists, to avoid scaring off potential OA enthusiasts. As I didn’t involve myself as a “fighter” in the OA-related discussions, I rarely found a need for such precautions.
I now see signs that the Open Access movement is finally strong enough that some of these precautions might not even be needed. Not that OA advocates “throw caution to the wind.” But I really sense that it’s now possible to openly discuss broader issues related to Open Access because “critical mass has been achieved.”
Case in point, for this sense of a “wind of change,” the latest issue of Peter Suber’s SPARC Open Access Newsletter.
Suber’s newsletter is frequently a useful source of information about Open Access and I often get inspired by it. But because my involvement in the OA movement is rather limited, I tend to skim those newsletter issues, more than I really read them. I kind of feel bad about this but “we all need to choose our battles,” in terms of information management.
But today’s issue “caught my eye.” Actually, it stimulated a lot of thoughts in me. It provided me with (tasty) intellectual nourishment. Simply put: it made me happy.
It’s all because Suber elaborated an argument about Open Access that I find particularly compelling: the epistemological dimension of Open Acces. Because of my perspective, I respond much more favourably to this epistemological argument than I would with most practical and ethical arguments. Maybe that’s just me. But it still works.
So I read Suber’s newsletter with much more attention than usual. I savoured it. And I used this new method of actively reading online texts which is based on the Diigo.com social bookmarking service.
What follows is a slightly edited version of my Diigo annotations on Suber’s text.
June 2008 issue of Peter Suber’s newsletter on open access to academic texts (“Open Access,” or “OA”).
- Suber’s newsletters are always on the lengthy side of things but this one seems especially long. I see this as a good sign.
- For several reasons, I find this issue of Suber’s newsletter is particularly stimulating. Part of my personal anthology of literature about Open Access.
Quote-based annotations and highlights.
Items in italics are Suber’s, those in roman are my annotations.
Really impressive round-up of recent news related to Open Access. What I tend to call a “linkfest.”
What follows is my personal selection, based on diverse interests.
- The venerable French encyclopedia, Larousse, will publish a free online edition, open to vetted user contributions.
- Harvard Law School joined the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences in adopting an OA mandate. Just as in the FAS, the Law School mandate was adopted by a unanimous vote of the faculty.
- The Canadian Library Association approved a Position Statement on Open Access for Canadian Libraries. It not only calls for a mandate OA for publicly-funded research, but regards embargo periods as a temporary compromise, justified only to help publishers adapt during a transition period.
- Google Books and WorldCat agreed to link their records to one another.
- Microsoft pulled the plug on Academic Search, Book Search, and its book-scanning program. It will fulfill existing contracts (e.g. with the British Library), give digital copies of scanned books to their publishers, donate its book-scanning equipment to its partners, and remove usage restrictions the public-domain books it has already scanned.
- The Open Humanities Press launched with a portfolio of seven peer-reviewed OA journals.
- Gramophone Magazine converted its 85 year backfile to OA.
- Scholars Without Borders created a list of peer-reviewed Open Access Journals published in India and the subcontinent.
- Science Commons and partners announced Health Commons, an ambitious ecosystem of OA literature and data, the semantic web, intelligent licensing, specimen-sharing services, and economies of scale, all in the service of developing cures. The other partners are CollabRx, CommerceNet, and the Public Library of Science.
- Medecins Sans Frontieres launched an OA repository.
- Scientists Without Borders launched an OA database to “coordinate science-based activities that improve quality of life in the developing world.”
- The folks at EPrints revamped ROARMAP, the database of funder and university OA mandates. The front page now has a very useful tally of the worldwide OA mandates in six categories.
- The Open University of Israel started publishing OA textbooks.
- The Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic signed the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge.
- Stanford University will provide OA to the papers of Stephen Jay Gould, and add cross-links to his sources.
- SURF released a new guide for scholars: How to use copyright wisely within scholarly communication.
- The Research Information Network released a major report on the costs and funding of scholarly communication in the UK.
- The University of California Berkeley’s Center for Studies in Higher Education released a new report on faculty views on the future of scholarly communication.
- The Association of Research Libraries updated its Brown-Bag Discussion Guide Series on Issues in Scholarly Communication, adding new guides on Author Rights and New Model Publications.
- Les Carr reported that monthly deposits in UK institutional repositories doubled in the last 18 months.
- Two OA activists won Berkman Awards “for their outstanding contributions to the Internet’s impact on society over the past decade”: Richard Baraniuk (of Connexions) and Carl Malamud (of Public.Resource.Org).
- Sean Kass, a third year Harvard law student, has released a 14 minute video, Open Access to Scholarly Publications. The video is a project in the course, The Web Difference, taught by John Palfrey and David Weinberger.
- Siyavula is a large, new open education project in the planning stage by the South African government.
- Britain will provide temporary OA to its UFO files. After a month of OA, the files will convert to TA.