John Willinsky describes the latest chapter in the ongoing story of information access: online open access publishing by scholarly journals -- and makes a case for open access as a public good.
John Willinsky, The Access Principle: The Case for Open Access to Research and Scholarship, MIT Press, Massachusetts, 2006.
A commitment to scholarly work carries with it a responsibility to circulate that work as widely as possible: this is the access principle. In the digital age, that responsibility includes exploring new publishing technologies and economic models to improve access to scholarly work. Wide circulation adds value to published work. The right to know and the right to be known are inextricably mixed.
Willinsky describes different types of access. He discusses the contradictions of copyright law, the reading of research, and the economic viability of open access. He also considers broader themes of public access to knowledge, human rights issues, lessons from publishing history, and "epistemological vanities." The debate over open access, writes Willinsky, raises crucial questions about the place of scholarly work in a larger world -- and about the future of knowledge.
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