Thursday, May 10, 2007

Harvard Crimson makes a strong pitch for 'Open Access'

Their editorial is very good:

... Leading academics in fields as diverse as biology, computer science, and law have spoken out and taken action for “open access” which includes novel publishing models that do not set up barriers to access, models where neither Wiley nor Elsevier nor even the American Chemical Society restricts the dissemination of academic research.

In 2003, Donald Knuth, a laureate of computer science’s highest honor, the Turing Award, wrote a long letter to his colleagues on the editorial board of Elsevier’s Journal of Algorithms in protest of climbing prices and restrictions on access. After consultation, they followed a dozen other journals’ editors before them by resigning en masse and forming a new open-access journal with a friendlier publisher. Similarly, the Open Access Law Program has 34 law journals (and counting), pledged to making the legal scholarship they publish freely available.

Other researchers, in fields from philosophy to biology, have gone further still, setting up new peer-reviewed journals founded on open access. Among these are top journals in some fields, including the Journal of Machine Learning Research founded at MIT and flagship journals PLoS Biology and PLoS Medicine of the Public Library of Science led by Nobel laureate and former National Institute of Health director Harold Varmus. A handful (like the PLoS journals) are funded from their authors’ research grants; the rest operate on minimal university or foundation subsidies or even on no budget at all—after all, at any journal the real work is done by unpaid authors, editors, and reviewers.