nibbling at the corners of open-access 05.09.2007, 9:09 AM
posted by jesse wilbur
Here at the Institute, we take as one of our fundamental ideas that intellectual output should be open for reading and remixing. We try to put that idea into practice with most of our projects. With MediaCommons we have set that as a cornerstone with the larger aim of transforming the culture of the academy to entice professors and students to play in an open space. Some of the benefits that can be realized by being open: a higher research profile for an institution, better research opportunities, and, as a peripheral (but ultimate) benefit: a more active intellectual culture. Open-access is hardly a new idea—the Public Library of Science has been building a significant library of articles for over seven years—but the academy is still not totally convinced.
A news clip in the Communications of the ACM describes a new study by Rolf Wigand and Thomas Hess from U. of Arkansas, and Florian Mann and Benedikt von Walter from Munich's Institute for IS and New Media that looked at attitudes towards open access publishing.
academics are extremely positive about new media opportunities that provide open access to scientific findings once available only in costly journals but fear nontraditional publication will hurt their chances of promotion and tenure.
Distressingly, not enough academics yet have faith in open access publishing as a way to advance their careers. This is an entrenched problem in the institutions and culture of academia, and one that hobbles intellectual discourse in the academy and between our universities and the outside world.
Although 80% said they had made use of open-access literature, only 24% published their work online. In fact, 65% of IS researchers surveyed accessed online literature, but only 31% published their own research on line. In medical sciences, those numbers were 62% and 23% respectively.
The majority of academics (based on this study) aren't participating fully in the open access movement—just nibbling at the corners. We need to encourage greater levels of participation, and greater levels of acceptance by institutions so that we can even out the disparity between use and contribution.
bowerbird on May 9, 2007 4:35 PM:
um, you're missing the relationship dynamic here...
they want _the_other_guy_ to make _his_ research
open-access so they can get to it without paying,
but want _their_own_ research to be "legitimized"
by virtue of being gate-checked through a pay-wall.
(even if they don't receive any of the toll fees.)
so this is a classic commons dilemma. until you
address _that_ issue, the problem will remain...
Gary Frost on May 9, 2007 9:57 PM:
Another element of the displacement is a perceived or actual difference between screen and paper publication, on-line/off-line or open access and subscription, or open-space and closed space presentation. Is choice lodged in actual differing functionalities or in affectations of authorship, writing and reading, or in a substantive combination of function and affectation? My guess is that it is lodged in a substantive combination of function and affectation. My guess is that scholars are skilled and avid in all kinds of reading and writing, but discrete in their formats for publication. That may explain the findings.
Jesse Wilbur on May 10, 2007 12:15 PM:
I don't think it is a classic Commons dilemma, because we're talking about an information Commons. It doesn't matter how much people take out--the problem of the classic Commons--but how much people put in that determines the success of the information Commons. That's why I say "We need to encourage greater levels of participation, and greater levels of acceptance by institutions."
However, I do agree that it is a question fundamentally concerned with legitimization. But that honor is bestowed by institutions and peers. Legitimization does not come by slapping a price tag on scholarly work. When it comes to career advancement, institutions support the peer-reviewed journal as king. The cost of a peer-reviewed journal is an economic artifact of publishing houses controlling the journals, not a tool for qualifying academic work. We have to convince institutions that open-access is a viable alternative for quality scholarship, and increase the quantity of scholarship available. And we have to do it at the same time.
bowerbird on May 10, 2007 3:20 PM:
so are the institutions the problem or the solution?
you say "we" need to "convince" them of something.
how is it you think that "we" could go about that?