Editor’s Note: Today’s post is by A.J. Boston. A.J. is the Scholarly Communication Librarian for Murray State University, located in scenic Western Kentucky, USA.
Watching cOAlition-S ratchet up urgency around open access has been an object lesson in the power that funders can wield when they coordinate around an issue. Spurred by the funder-led push for authors to make their works open access, research institutions have been signing read-and-publish deals and these have swiftly accelerated the total growth of articles published as open access. But if you look closely, you will find an ideological movement has arisen that objects to these deals (e.g., “Transformative Agreements & Library Publishing: A Short Examination” from Dave Ghamandi, “Message from the Grassroots” by Camille Marcos Noûs, and “Transformative agreements: Six myths busted” from a group of librarians and research funders) from those that otherwise favor open access. A common theme of these critiques, and related discourse more broadly, can be characterized with one word: Equity.
The march towards open access continues, but the issues in play aren’t quite what we have been told. Without care, great improvements in equity and fairness in science won’t be realised. Publication fees will lock out revenue-poor countries just as expensive subscription fees did. This reflective piece in Scholarly Kitchen piece dives into the issues in a way not discussed previously. This is a recommended read for anyone involved in research outputs. We have included links to five related items.
The Wrong Solution
The original BOAI set out a goal for peer-reviewed journal literature to be made freely accessible online, either through self-archiving or open access journals. The complexity of the self-archiving route can be difficult to explain to authors or convince them to take action. On the other hand, while read-and-publish deals aren’t easy, they do help institutions remove some ambiguity about copyright, journal choice, and funding pools. Additionally, read-and-publish allows an institution to nobly address the need for global citizens to freely consume works, especially those produced by that institution.