More on “open access”
This is the central and simple point on which we are agreed – for some of our problems we can solve this problem without extra tools if we put our minds and energy into it. We aren’t yet doing that sufficiently.
Part of the problem arises because in the Green approach to “open access” there is often an implicit trade-off between price freedom and permission freedom. There is tool-free access at the expense of having no permissions other than human readability – all the permissions (other than “fair use”) remain with the publisher. Many people may feel that this is a reasonable compromise in journal publishing at the present stage. Some may feel that 100% Green open access is an acceptable endpoint.
But I think it comes with a cost to those of us who wish to develop digital scholarship – the use of the information in scholarship by machines as well as humans. As an example the JISC meeting on institutional repositories
I have just been at was called “Digital Repositories – Dealing with the Digital Deluge”. This is an emotive phrase – but it’s currently misleading. In many subjects there is a complete Digital Drought. And unless the permissions issue is dealt with there will continue to be. Permission freedom is essential for digital scholarship.
My concern is that unless we address the permission issue much more actively we shall slide into the acceptance that permission freedom is the exception or less important than price. The one area where we have to power to act unilaterally is those parts of our own scholarship over which we have effective control – theses, data in repositories, lteaching/learning materials, technical reports, etc. Let us work to make these 100% permission free.
My immediate urgency is fueled by the ETD2007 meeting tomorrow. I hope that we can find consensus on this issue.