By: Eric Kansa, UC Berkeley and OpenContext.org
This blog post looks at the open access debate, and notes how sustainability is as much of an ideological and political question as it is a financial issue. It is intended to follow up on previous blog posts (first, second, third) that discuss how the Aaron Swartz prosecution and death highlighted tremendous injustices in the legal framework governing scholarly communications.
At this year’s Society for American Archaeology (SAA) conference in Honolulu, I took part in discussions about open access in various forums, including the Digital Data Interest Group and a forum sponsored by the SAA Committee on Ethics. Sarah Kansa, a member of the SAA Publications Committee has also been participating in open access debates. There’s very little to report just yet, except that the issue of open access is clearly on the agenda of archaeology’s professional societies. The Obama Administration’s (Feb 2013) move to require open access of federally funded research outputs has clearly raised the stakes and urgency of the open access issue. This policy move followed years of advocacy efforts, culminating with a petition signed by over 65,000 people.
In these debates, open access has little explicit opposition as an ideal. Rather, resistance to open access focuses on fears of financial “sustainability.” The leaders of professional societies tend to cling to the status quo because they do not see a way to underwrite the costs of open access publication.
So let’s look at the issue of sustainability more closely. (more…)