We just had an article about about a UK publisher who was opening up their journals to publish all of the content for free online. That's not the only place it's happening. Salon has an interesting article about one organization that has been leading the charge towards offering free academic research online. At first they tried convincing well-known journals to open up. They pointed out the benefits of opening up the research, such as allowing more people to access it, so they could build upon it and discover new things. They also pointed out that since so much research is government funded, it should be publicly available. Finally, they got a large number of researchers and scientists to declare that they wanted the journals to go free... And, yet, the non-profit journals decided to keep their cash cow. Eventually, the guy realized the only way to convince them to go free was to create a competing scientific journal that would offer its content for free online. Some are skeptical that it will work, but the initial interest certainly seems to be good, and continued competitive pressure from other sources may eventually force the other journals to open up their content.
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