Should All Academic Research Be Free And What Wikipedia Can Teach Us About Publishing

Kalev Leetaru | Forbes | June 14, 2016

Last month the European Union offered a bold and striking call for all scientific literature to be made available to the world free of charge. Many questions remain regarding how such a vision can be made into reality, especially where the funding for such a mandate will come from. Such calls, happening amidst a sea change in the open access debate, offer a powerful moment of reflection into why the vast majority of scholarly research is still walled off from the public that largely pays for it.

As I wrote in April, the academic publishing community is at present being upended by the growing movement towards open access publication. Open access journals like PLOS and repositories like arXiv offer a range of options from traditional peer reviewed open access through simple PDF hosting, while more and more universities offer institutional repositories that can make PDFs and small datasets available to the world.

Countless studies have attempted to discern the “true” cost of academic publication and attach dollar amounts to each individual stage of the publishing pipeline. However, at the end of the day, it is remarkable that in 2016 in an age when a myriad sites will host a PDF for free and most universities offer web hosting for scholarly publications, that scholars and their institutions still pay a fortune to make their knowledge available to the world...