For genuinely open social science texts, the disguised elitism of citing paywall sources is no longer good enough
peter.suber's bookmarks 2018-11-02
"But in seeking to inform citizens about UK politics, is it enough to simply make the primary text available open access, but then to provide reference links that may or may not lead readers to useful further information? What if we cite a print book or a paywalled journal article which means that ordinary citizens (and of course anyone in education or universities who does not have access to that particular item) instead come to a juddering halt in what they can learn further? This seems like building into our open access book dozens of elements that negate open access, that effectively declare to many readers: “sorry, but you’ve reached the end of the line on learning more here, because you are not one of the privileged university inhabitants for whom this academic work is properly designed”.
To avoid this disguised elitism we set out to make not just our primary text but also all the evidence and sources that support the analysis as open and visible for readers as we can. This commitment must sometimes create a dilemma for any academic author, for whom it is vital to accurately cite the original, best, or most critically relevant source. Citing accurately and fully is an essential aspect of academic writing and professionalism and it fulfils many key professional functions. Using only or mainly OA sources in open social science texts may mean making different choices about what to cite. Potentially we might want to prefer those sources that are open over those sources that are most fundamental, salient, or otherwise “best” in context...."