My comments to Times Higher Education about the White House petition
June 6, 2012
I am briefly quoted in Times Higher Education‘s new article about the White House public access petition Since my response had to be quite dramatically cut for space, here is the full text of what I sent the writer, Paul Jump:
The success of this petition is important for several reasons. First, it puts paid to the pernicious lie that open access isn’t important because research is useless to non-specialists. Support for the petition has come from many non-academic quarters, including patient support group Patients Like Me, Wikipedia, Creative Commons, the American Association of Law Libraries, and the Association of College and Research Libraries.
Perhaps equally important, it’s attracted support from publishers — not only open-access publishers such as PLoS, BMC and InTechWeb, but also forward-thinking subscription publishers like Rockefeller University Press. It’s also featured widely in the non-academic media, appearing on the news-for-nerds sites Slashdot, Reddit, and Hacker News, in newspapers like the Guardian, and in magazines like Wired.
All of this makes the crucial point that open access isn’t just an esoteric preference of a few disgruntled academics, as the hugely profitable commercial subscription-based academic publishers have consistently tried to paint it. It’s something that has huge implications for all of our lives: for health care, education, legislative deliberations, small businesses, and ultimately the health of the planet.
Open-access advocates have seen this for a long time, but now the message is getting out. Irrespective of what response the Obama administration makes to the petition’s very rapid achievement of the required 25,000 signatures, what’s been said about it around the world lays waste the idea that open access is nothing more than an alternative business model for scholarly publishing. It’s a much bigger revolution than that.
(They managed to cut that down to 69 words!)