Open Access: What have the Romans ever done for us?
Those of you who are Monty Python fans will recognise the rhetorical question title, famously followed by a very long list. In that spirit I ask “What has Open Access ever done for us?” Well, there’s the easy access. I read the literature a lot, and even though we have library subscriptions it’s just so much easier to research a topic using fully OA journals. And then there’s the moral high ground. Publishing OA I can explain that I’m not supporting a multi-billion pound publishing industry based on tax-funded academics working for free and then paying with our taxes for their own outputs later on. And then there’s the citation advantage. Well obviously the citation advantage, the citations go without saying don’t they. It’s known that work published as OA gets cited much more, and read much more, it just has much more influence. And there’s the financial stability. Non-OA publishers raise their subscription fees at much more than the rate of inflation, it’s unsustainable for university libraries, and I like knowing that OA journals will give me access forever. Then there’s the open re-use. OA journals allow others to reuse figures and text in their own work. This means that your work can be built upon and incorporated into a new generation of scholarly works. There’s the easy compliance with funders’ requirements. Funding agencies are rightly requiring, as a condition of funding, that published outputs of their grants are not signed away to commercial publishers. OA publishing automatically meets these requirements. And there are the modern publisher technologies. OA publishers have shaken up the market in lots of ways including technologically. Manuscript publishing designed for the web, rather than just copied onto the web, has been driven largely by OA publishers such as PeerJ, eLife and PLOS. So, apart from the easy access, the moral position, the citation advantage, the financial stability, the open reuse, meeting the funders’ conditions, and the modern publishing technology, what has Open Access ever done for us?
Monty Python’s Life of Brian scene “What have the Romans ever done for us?” https://youtu.be/ExWfh6sGyso It’s interesting that the Pythons have allowed unrestricted posting (like Open Access) of Monty Python clips to YouTube, and their view is that this actually helps their business interests.