Open access in the Irish Times

Open Access logo, via Wikipedia.I have written several times on this blog about open access journals, and I have re-posted some of the wickedly funny cartoons served up daily by Piled Higher and Deeper (PhD). Open access journals are the focus of PhD’s cartoon yesterday (it’s too big to repost here, but click through and enjoy – then come back here for the rest of this post!) (update: I’m not the only one who has used this cartoon as a jumping off point to discuss the future of online scientific publications – Lukas Ahrenberg does too). In one of those rare cases of serendipity which the universe’s roll of the dice can throw up, Quinn Norton has an excellent introductory piece on open access in yesterday’s Irish Times; here are some extracts (with added links):

Open Access leads the way in promoting academic research

WIRED : Scholars are embracing the internet to bypass publishers and speed the process of research

… In the mid-1990s Peter Suber, a research professor of philosophy at Earlham College in the US, got on the internet and learned how to make web pages. Like many in academia, he decided to post his papers. He was delighted with the response. “I was just playing with a new tool (html) and started receiving correspondences from philosophers,” he says. “I wrote for impact, and I was finally getting impact.”

He and others began to see the web as a way to bypass the publishers and speed the process of research. … The idea became the Open Access movement. A meeting in 2002 produced the Budapest Open Access Initiative, which defined Open Access as “Free availability on the public internet . . . without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself.”

… While universities and others have organized Open Access (OA) journals in their topic areas, (at this time, the Directory of Open Access Journals [DOAJ] lists 4,278 titles) really getting the bulk of research into the open means getting funders on board. … “There are now more than 30 Open Access requirements from public research funders around the world,” says Suber. He points to Ireland as one of the best regimes in terms of pushing OA. The Government funded new OA archives at Irish universities while simultaneously requiring Government-funded research to end up in them. Suber would like to see more countries adopt the Irish model. “Ireland is ahead of the world,” he says. …

On the Budapest meeting, see also Bethesda (2003) | Berlin (2003), and its follow up conferences, up to Paris (2009) forthcoming | OECD (2004). The full list of DOAJ’s law journals is here; the Irish Universities Association (IUA) Report on Open Access To Irish University Research is here (pdf); and TCD library‘s open access project is here.

I entirely agree with this development: scholars and libraries need speedy access to relevant research publications all over the globe, but the traditional publishing model is prohibitively expensive and excludes access to a large and growing proportion of the research community. In response, the open access movement seeks to transform the traditional model by making research publications freely available online as soon as they are ready – and the more that public universities in particular adopt this model to publish and publicize the fruits of their research, the better it will be for all of us.

A final irony: although Quinn’s piece is currently freely available on the Irish Times website, after twelve months it will go into the subscription-based digital archive, though she may have made it available before then on her website (though, at the time of writing, it’s not there yet).