Sunday, April 02, 2006

Of cost and value

Peter Suber's excellent blog Open Access News drew my attention to Kate Corby's review of John Willinsky's book The Access Principle. She says that "Perhaps the strongest point this book makes is that openly accessible scholarly information is more valuable [than] information published in journals with limited access."

On this point, I couldn't agree more with Willinsky. Yet if his point is valid, why is it that there are still plenty of members of the academic community, including OA advocates, who somehow balk at the idea of willing, OA-conscious publishers charging for the service of open access publishing? Isn't what one is prepared to pay for something an expression of its 'value'? So why is Academia prepared to shell out for subscriptions, but reluctant to pay for the article charges that come with OA publishing? In the aggregate, and in the traditional subscription model, Academia spends an amount far exceeding $3000 for every single article published in established journals. Why not spend that money on publishing all those articles with open access? And get more value to boot? Or is Academia just too anarchic to be sensible about this?

Jan Velterop

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