'Setting The Default To Open': The Next Ten Years Of Open Access
from the tomorrow,-the-world dept
As Techdirt has reported, open access (OA) is scoring more and more major wins currently. But the battle to gain free access to academic research has been a long one. One of the key moments was the launch of the Budapest Open Access Initiative (BOAI) ten years ago, which saw the term "open access" being defined for the first time:
By "open access" to this literature, we mean its free availability on the public internet, permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of these articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself. The only constraint on reproduction and distribution, and the only role for copyright in this domain, should be to give authors control over the integrity of their work and the right to be properly acknowledged and cited.
To mark that first decade, the BOAI site has published a series of further recommendations for the next ten years, with the aim of making "open" the default for peer-reviewed research literature.
The first is that:
Every institution of higher education should have a policy assuring that peer-reviewed versions of all future scholarly articles by faculty members are deposited in the institution’s designated repository.
This is to ensure that copies of research, including theses and dissertations, are always available from some independent online collection or database of articles, and not just from publishers, for example. The first guideline also comes out against
the use of journal impact factors as surrogates for the quality of journals, articles, or authors. We encourage the development of alternative metrics for impact and quality which are less simplistic, more reliable, and entirely open for use and reuse.
The question of whether to pay attention to impact factors -- an attempt to gauge influence in the academic world -- is a vexed one: most people agree it's a dreadful way to measure someone's achievements, but institutions keep on using them anyway when handing out jobs and money. It would be a real achievement if the new BOAI guidelines helped bring in better ways of measuring academic quality.
The second recommendation is that "the optimal license for the publication, distribution, use, and reuse of scholarly work" is CC-BY – that is, attribution. It's a bold move, since CC-BY gives users a lot of freedom that authors are sometimes reluctant to grant. Here's a good explanation of why that's a sensible position to take; it's from a blog post about the new recommendations by Peter Suber, one of the key figures in the open access movement:
The purpose of OA is to remove barriers to the scholarly uses of scholarly literature, without harming scholars. There’s no legitimate scholarly need to suppress attribution to the texts we use. And in any case, suppressing attribution would hurt authors. If they don’t get paid for their articles, at least they should get credit. Their impact and careers depend on that.
The third recommendation picks up on the first, and goes into some detail about how institutional repositories should work. That's a reflection of the fact that such repositories are widely accepted now, so the issue is more a question of optimizing their use.
Finally, there is a recommendation on advocacy and coordination that includes the following:
The worldwide campaign for OA to research articles should work more closely with the worldwide campaigns for OA to books, theses and dissertations, research data, government data, educational resources, and source code.
That clearly touches on many of the key issues covered here on Techdirt, and represents a radical and welcome extension of ambitions by proponents of open access. That they feel in a position to make this move is a measure of just how much they have already achieved in the ten years since the Budapest Open Access Initiative was announced.
We should coordinate with kindred efforts less directly concerned with access to research, such as copyright reform, orphan works, digital preservation, digitizing print literature, evidence-based policy-making, the freedom of speech, and the evolution of libraries, publishing, peer review, and social media.