Open Access (the book) – Harvard Open Access Project

The home page for Peter Suber’s book, Open Access (MIT Press, 2012), with a growing collection of updates and supplements, and links to reviews, translations, and OA editions.

Impact of Social Sciences – Increasingly collaborative researcher behaviour is the real threat to the resilient academic publishing sector

“Traditional academic publishing has been rumoured to be imperilled for decades now. Despite continued criticism over pricing and a growing open access movement, a number of recent reports point to the sector’s resilience. Francis Dodds suggests this is partly attributable to the adaptability of academic publishers but also highlights attitudes of researchers surprisingly committed to the status quo as another key factor. However, other aspects of researcher behaviour may prove more disruptive in the long term, with greater collaboration leading to the growing informal use and exchange of free material between researchers….”

Publisher, be damned! From price gouging to the open road

“We suggest that the academic publishing industry is as resistant to change as the music publishing industry was. But the music industry lost its ability to protect the status quo of excessive profits through sustained assault by people who used the latest technology to distribute music through alternative channels. Once it became easy to access music for free (albeit by means of questionable legality), the price of supply through legitimate sources had to fall. And fall it did, without obvious deleterious effects on the production of music itself. We do not suggest that people engage in outright piracy of academic works, not least because the penalties for perpetrators can be severe. But it may be that we could be more sympathetic to the ‘trading’ of academic knowledge, just as the Grateful Dead allowed people who made tapes of their concerts to trade them on a not-for-profit basis (Fraser and Black, 1999): ‘the legally regulated world of intellectual property rights and copyright enforcement actions is replaced by a self-regulating enterprise in which commercial interests do not influence the values of the group or subculture’ (Fraser and Black, 1999, p.33). Thus it is that doing nothing to prevent the trading of electronic copies of our academic work could act to circumvent the perils of engagement with the academic publishing industry.”

[For the background controversy surrounding this piece, see the June 5, 2014 article in Times Higher Education.]