Boston College Libraries Newsletter - Summer 2013
"In 1994, I became practically acquainted with the notion of 'open access' (OA), namely the goal of making scholarship, particularly scholarly journal articles, freely available to anyone with internet access. In that year I published an article in the peer reviewed journal Education Policy Analysis Archives, an OA journal. The journal was new, only started the year earlier, and was not particularly well known (though it has subsequently evolved into a very prestigious Education journal). Within weeks of my article appearing, its subject a fairly obscure topic in nineteenth century English educational history, I was amazed to see that it had been accessed hundreds and hundreds of times. Today this figure has reached many thousands. The lesson was plain for me — if I wished an article to reach as many as possible the strategy was to publish it in an OA journal rather than one closed to most potential readers by subscription barriers. Today faculty are increasingly aware of the benefits of open access as well as the disadvantages of closed access. Indeed, some experience the irony that sometimes they cannot access their own published work as their institution cannot afford to subscribe to the particular journal. Moreover, many are also cognizant that costly financial barriers to journal access at other libraries result in their articles being read less and cited less. Such access barriers certainly affect students too, many of whom are strong supporters of OA. The student-founded Right to Research Coalition has as its primary goal 'to promote an open scholarly publishing system based on the belief that no student should be denied access to the articles they need because their institution cannot afford the often high cost of access.' The Coalition presently represents seven million students both nationally and globally. While librarians, faculty and students have been the primary promoters of open access, the general public has also been increasingly vocal in calling for greater availability to scholarship. Most Americans, many of whom have helped fund research through their tax dollars, have no ready access to the scholarship resulting from that research. And they certainly desire such access ..."