We Need to Talk About Kevin, er, Open Access

Barbara Fister, Inside Higher Ed, Sept 27, 2012
Commentary by Stephen Downes

When critics talk of the 'sustainability' of open access, what they often mean is something like 'how can publishers keep making the same money they are now'? It's like a comment that was made yesterday, 'how do universities maintain revenue offering open courses?' My response is, "maybe they can't." It's like this post says: "the open access movement is not about finding ways to sustain publishers, any more than all of our health care reform solutions depend on maintaining the revenues of insurance companies." We need to remember, "There are two distinct issues in play:

  • Too few people have access to research, and that diminishes our ability as human beings to use the fruits of scholarship to better ourselves.
  • The current system is more expensive than it needs to be.

A simple answer to a complex problem is to find lower-cost ways of making research more widely available. This is doable. It’s not easy, but it’s doable." And, it being doable, it should be done, and the publishers and universities can take care of themselves, as they have always done.

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