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Vikas Kamat
 Vikas Kamat is a programmer- entrepreneur living in Birmingham AL. This blog is a complex mix of Indian culture, life in southern USA, computer sciences, and sports. Opinions are his own.
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Open Access Movement Durable Link to this BLOG
Open Access Movement

In the library world, a new movement is picking up momentum called Open Access (OA).

Depending on whom you ask you get a different definition of what is OA (some say OA journals are free to readers, some say they are free to libraries, some say free back-files, I am using OA here to include all of them), but the core principles of the movement involves unrestricted access to published research.

This week, a debate on OA is being held in India that will include a librarian, a publisher, and an author. The consumers (users and researchers) are the audience. It is being moderated by a subscription agent. Very interesting.

My take on on OA

I think "Free Beer" journals and "Free Speech" journals will have to co-exist with "Exclusive and Priviledged" journals. The OA movement will be beneficial to cash-starved libraries (especially in poorer countries) in the short term, but is not a viable solution for durable content. The libraries, however, have to find a solution on how to perpetually archive e-journals (see my idea below, as posed to Garfield), because OA publishers might quickly go out of business or change ownerships. I also wonder if paying for one's own articles will result in dilution of scholarship.

The other day, I sought the expert opinion of Dr. Eugene Garfield on the matter. He is the pioneer in the world of scientific information, and a role model for me.

Question Prof. Garfield, What is your stance on Open Access Journals? Do you think it will dilute the quality of scholarship ?

Answer I have tried to avoid public comment on the Open Access issue. But a simple answer to your question is NO!!

Question: This question I ask as an entrepreneur. I wish to build a electronic-content caching/archiving product that can be used in each library to serve as an 'escrow', should the e-publisher go out of business... like a electronic "Local Holdings". Does this idea have any mustard?

Answer Who is going to guarantee that you don't go out of business?!

My Philosophical Take on OA

Gandhi said that the purpose of satyagraha (resistance or activism) is only to bring in the desired change and not to engage in everlasting conflict. Once OA activists convince the publishers of the wrong they are engaged in, the publishers have a responsibility to change. We are already seeing this change happen. Today American Physical Society actually lowered the subscription , and many publishers are bound to listen to the demands of the industry.

So the OA initiative is already successful.

But OA activists are not satisfied. They want to go all the way and make research available truly without barriers. That means free to the reader. Not a red cent is necessary to read premier research articles. They are encouraged by strong emergence of Google, who need a lot of free content they can index.

Makes me want to ponder over Garfield's quip, What happens when this super library (Google) goes out of business?

(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Friday, May 7, 2004
Last Modified: 5/10/2004 4:17:04 PM
Tags: library

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