Sunday, March 09, 2008

Wall Street Journal on Open Access

There is a nice essay (Information Liberation) by Daniel Akst in the Wall Street Journal on Open Access to scientific publications (thanks to Bora for pointing this out). He leads of the essay saying
If your child has a life-threatening disease and you're desperate to read the latest research, you'll be dismayed to learn that you can't -- at least not without hugely expensive subscriptions to a bevy of specialized journals or access to a major research library.

Your dismay might turn to anger when you realize that you paid for this research.
Go to the WSJ site to read the rest but he has some useful points about OA including:
  • That academic societies and their journals should be able to survive even if they provide the publications for free
  • That "barriers to the spread of information are bad for capitalism"
  • That open access can help limit plagiarism (by allowing anyone to search for copied text as has been done recently for a variety of literary works)
  • That open access to information can help speed development in impoverished nations
  • And his final point: "The challenge, in the coming new world of open access, will be keeping the best of the current system while jettisoning the rest. Maybe some scholar would like to study the question -- and publish his findings for all to see."

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