Making A Case For Open Access

Joseph Esposito | The Scholarly Kitchen | January 5, 2015

Depending on the audience, the case for open access (OA) varies. Opponents of intellectual property, for example, may favor OA simply on principle. To a researcher you might argue for a broader dissemination of his or her own work. A funding agency may accept the dissemination premise as well and tie it to an exercise in branding, where each published OA article becomes an ambassador for the sponsor of the research. A librarian may be persuaded on the basis of cost (the money that does not have to be spent on OA material can be used elsewhere), and an established publisher may see the Gold variety simply as an additive revenue stream.

I don’t intend to navigate through the merits of any of these arguments here; from my point of view, OA is a fact, not a philosophy. What has caught my attention is how often I am asked to justify a recommendation that a professional society look into the creation of an OA service. In my experience (which I do not pretend to be comprehensive), OA is a tough sell. The officers of professional societies are often skeptical about the claims for OA and need to be persuaded that it is good for science and good for their own particular society. If you are going to try to make a case to a group of accomplished individuals whose stock in trade is to study all assertions with great care, you have to toss the abstractions out the window and bring some facts to bear on the situation...