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March 13, 2007

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William

Can you flesh the following out a bit?

"[T]he open access movement is a socio-political movement, and not entirely rational."

I've enjoyed the posts but am not sure what to make of this.

Thanks,
Bill

T Scott

Bill,

We did not talk about that element in any detail, so I want to be careful not to put words into the mouths of any of the other attendees, but I think that the way that it was taken was that for some (at least) of its advocates the "open access movement" is very much of a crusade. It is driven by beliefs that are often characterized in moral terms -- for example, the rights of taxpayers to freely access federally funded research results, regardless of the potential costs (whether financial costs or opportunity costs) of any of the current proposals to do so. This quality of a crusade makes it difficult to engage in rational discussion of the pros and cons of any particular approach -- support for FRPAA, for example, is considered a litmus test of support for open access, and criticizing it as a piece of legislation is taken as opposition to "open access."

I think this is generally the way that the phrase was taken by the participants. The people at the meeting were interested in considered discussion of alternatives to the current system of scholarly publishing and were, I think, in general agreement that the rhetoric of some of the leading voices in the open access movement makes that difficult.

I hasten to add that the more I talk with librarians and publishers who are NOT in the extremely vocal minority, the more I see people who have an increasingly nuanced view of the complexities involved.

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