In Defence Of Open Access Systems

Leslie Chan | The Hindu | December 31, 2012

LESLIE CHAN, champion of the Open Access Initiative, tells G. MAHADEVAN that the traditional journals will lose the battle to Open Access publications.

What, briefly, is the conceptual core of the Open Access Initiative? Is it just making available academic research free of cost to everyone? The Open Access movement is fundamentally about freeing the scholarly literature from price and unreasonable permission barriers so that research could be used, built upon and shared by anyone who wishes to do so. The goal is to maximise the impact and benefit of research for the betterment of society.

Open Access is of particular importance to the Global South because it provides an unprecedented opportunity for equitable access to essential research information from around the world. So while removing the price barrier is important, the key to Open Access is that it allows researchers and the institutions they work for to regain control of their intellectual labour and capital by disseminating the research they produce in ways that they see fit, and not simply according to the business logic of the for-profit publishing houses. In time, the hope is that we will see a more balanced production and dissemination of knowledge from around the world.

In an academic world, ruled by refereed journals and where the impact factor seems paramount, how will you position Open Access as a viable, credible alternative? While the referred journal remains to be a key vehicle of scholarly communications and the journal impact factor continues to play an important role, the power of the network is profoundly transforming the nature of scientific discovery, reporting and collaboration, and the days of traditional journals are numbered, along with the impact factor...