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Bill Brydon

symploke - The Open Access Debate - 0 views

    On October 18-20, 2009, librarians and publishers fought another round in the ongoing open access (OA) debate, which the Chronicle continues to cover. The opening shot-but it is already a reply-was fired by SPARC, the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, when it declared October 19-23, 2009 to be "Open Access Week." 1 Open Access is the name of the idea that the public and universities should not pay publishers for something-usually scholarly journals, though now books are on the radar as well-they have already paid to produce. In principle, universities pay professors to write scholarly books and articles, and it pays other professors to review and edit them, but publishers then collect subscriptions to produce these journals and sell them back to the universities. Instead of buying the work back again, goes the argument, journals should be free and distributed online. Proponents, mainly authors and universities, think journals might not survive if libraries have to pay for them twice, once via the university to produce them, the second time to subscribe. This is particularly the case with science journals, which often cost many times more than do humanities journals. While the costs of humanities and social science journals have been increasingly a concern for research libraries, price increases in the sciences have led to a crisis in library subscriptions. This has been a topic of concern now for over two decades and has led to a boycott of science publisher Elsevier in 2003, among others (Albanese 2004). Now that electronic publishing has gained widespread acceptance, both in the academy and in society at large, the time seems at hand for the end of publisher monopolies.
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