“Some people may consider this open access wave as a simply incremental gain, but it really is, in many ways, a revolution. As it stands, people who generate the knowledge are rarely the same people who valorize that knowledge. Instead, it is often third parties who make most value by integrating knowledge from multiple sources. This is a new descriptor of literacy, and we must pay attention to the fact that the more it is shared, the more knowledge becomes useful. Researchers must therefore realize the need to bridge efforts in within the otherwise siloed knowledge industry, with the need to community desires for impact.
I believe that liberating information so that it can be accessed by multiple brains across disciplines will create immeasurable value. Here I mean value not just to academics, but to industry, governments and societies. The adage, “knowledge is power” remains most relevant today. The more of it we have, and the wider we share it, the greater our capacity will be to address our priority needs in key sectors including energy, health, agriculture, infrastructure and education. One might say that while quantity of knowledge has a linear effect on societal impact, the extent to which it is shared will have exponential effects.
As am writing this, I have an email from one of our Tanzania postgraduate students requesting full text of an article published in 1962 in the East African Medical Journal, which historically had fantastic ratings. The article in question contains work done in northern Tanzania but is unfortunately now behind a paywall. The student can choose to pay for access, send an email to some American or European partner who probably has paid access or repeat the experiments? As it stands, all those options remain on the table, especially since I am, perhaps unreasonably, being adamant that “all which is behind a paywall is immaterial”….”