University of Cambridge

Open Access Movement and Its Implications for the Future of Academic Writing

Introduction

Open Access material is readily provided to help further research, assist teaching, and to aid many other academic purposes. Open Access eliminates subscriptions and fees and most copyright and licensing restrictions. This movement for open access via the internet is extremely beneficial for the future of not only academic science writing but for other research fields as well. The ability for authors to help other researchers without money in the picture will establish a more accurate approach towards researching in our society today.

Background

The Open Access Movement is the effort to make scholarly research articles free to the public online. According to Public Knowledge, “the OA movement has focused on peer-reviewed journal articles and their preprints.” This is because scholarly journals don’t pay royalties to authors and most of their research is funded by taxpayers. One method for providing open access is self-archiving. Self-archiving is when someone submits a digital document on the web design in order to provide open access to it.

Along with the open access movement comes the open source movement. The open source movement is composed of various people who feel the best way to produce sophisticated bug-free software is to bring together skilled programmers who would work for free (Cherian, 2000). The software provides a source code for the user which meets the Open Source Definition, allowing users to change and improve the software. Even though there is some cost involved with open source software, both movements are fairly similar in that they promote free material for users by conveniently making it readily for them to use or amend.

When Paul Ginsparg set up the server ArXiv to make physics preprints freely accessible, the first building block for the Open Access Movement was laid. Other co-founders were Peter Suber and Steven Harnad (www.open-access.net). It has gained momentum from three major statements since 2002: Budapest Open Access Initiative, Bethesda Statement on Open Access Publishing, and Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities (Cambridge University Library). The movement has gained many supporters since it has been around. It gives authors a larger audience while giving readers a chance to research material without having to worry about barriers or payment. Libraries support the movement because they want to help raise the school’s research profile, and with open access can better help students find the information they need. The Open Access Movement also helps funding agencies by providing public access to the results of publicly-funded research (Peter Suber, 2004). Even though Open Access allows for a larger audience for authors, the movement can strip the reuse of the published work. This can bring about a possible negative side for opposers to sit with.

Many of the initiatives for Open Access focus on taxpayer funded research. “The campaign usually recognizes exceptions for military research, patentable discovery research, and research that some authors publish in some royalty-producing form” (Suber, 2004).

Impact

According to a study mentioned in an e! Science News article, “when academic articles are “open access” or free online, they get read more often, but they don’t get cited more often in academic literature” (Cornell University, 2008). The reason suggested for this is researchers already have the information they need from other relevant articles readily accessible to them. Researchers conducted a study by making some journal articles free to users while requiring a fee for other articles. They found the free articles were downloaded and read more but weren’t cited more than the subscription based articles. According to Cornell graduate student Phillip Davis, they found that open-access publishing may reach more readers than subscription-access publishing, but there is no evidence that freely accessible articles are cited any more than subscription-access articles (Cornell University, 2008).

Peer review is the screening of a work to consider for publication. Within the topic of Open Access, publishers make various claims that Open Access threatens peer review. “If OA is forced on them they will not be able to survive financially because they will discover that there is no stable long-term business model for OA publishing” (Poynder, 2006). Stevan Harnad makes a good point saying that Open Access is the free availability of peer-reviewed research, not the availability of research free of peer review.

As mentioned earlier, the Open Access Movement can greatly affect universities, libraries, and various funding agencies. The movement reduces the school’s expense on journals and helps them extend their goal to share knowledge and other research. In dealing with libraries, Peter Suber states that the movement for Open Access solves the pricing and permission crisis. The pricing crisis means libraries have to pay sky high prices for journals, while the permission crisis deals with licensing terms prohibiting libraries from accessing electronic journals.

Possibilities

I think the Open Access Movement will greatly affect academic research. Allowing researchers to freely read academic journals will help our world’s growth in knowledge. Sharing each other’s works with certain ideas and stances will allow for additional, maybe even more significant, ideas to form. The movement will help authors get their research out to a larger number of people willing to read about their findings in order to assist their own research. With this movement does come some issues related to authorship rights. The movement will have an affect on individual authorship, priority, and especially ownership. Peter Suber talks about various ways how the movement can maneuver around these negative affects. First, Open Access doesn’t require the author to throw away all of their copyright privileges. They can use one of the Creative Commons licenses or compose their own licenses and attach them to their works (Suber, 2004). “When copyright holders consent to OA they consent in advance to the unrestricted reading, downloading, copying, sharing, storing, printing, searching, linking, and crawling of the full-text of the work” (Suber, 2004).

Conclusion

After conducting my research, I believe the Open Access Movement is a masterfully developed concept that has potential to aid students and professionals with their research and help extend their knowledge of certain sciences. Allowing for academic journals to be available online for everyone to read, disregarding any barriers that previously came with it, would be a significant improvement for our societies research profile. The movement benefits so many professions and institutions such as authors, readers, libraries, universities, and funding agencies. There have been many times when I have been denied access to scholarly articles on the internet because of subscription fees, but without these fees in the future I can develop better research from a wider range of material.

                                                        Works Cited

“Free articles get read but don’t generate more citations | Eureka! Science News.” Eureka! Science News | Latest science articles & news. 30 Mar. 2009 <http://esciencenews.com/articles/2008/07/31/free.articles.get.read.dont.generate.more.citations>.

“Informationsplattform Open Access: History.” Informationsplattform Open Access: Startseite. 30 Mar. 2009 <http://open-access.net/de_en/general_information/what_does_open_access_mean/history/>.

“Open Access – About Open Access.” Cambridge University Library. 30 Mar. 2009 <http://www.lib.cam.ac.uk/create_change/>.

“Open Access to Research | Public Knowledge.” Public Knowledge | Fighting for your digital rights in Washington. 30 Mar. 2009 <http://www.publicknowledge.org/issues/openaccess>.

“Overview of the Open-Source Movement.” School of Information – University of Texas. 30 Mar. 2009 <http://www.ischool.utexas.edu/~l38613dw/readings/OpenSourceOverview.html>.

Poynder, Richard. “Open Access: death knell for peer review?” Open and Shut? 30 Mar. 2009 <http://poynder.blogspot.com/2006/10/open-access-death-knell-for-peer.html>.

Suber, Peter. “Peter Suber, Open Access Overview (definition, introduction).” Earlham College &#8212; Richmond, Indiana. 30 Mar. 2009 <http://www.earlham.edu/~peters/fos/overview.htm>.

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