Who benefits from the Open Access? | Open Science
"One of the arguments used most often against Open Access is that it is redundant. Supporters of this argument maintain that average people cannot make use of scientific research, and that professional researchers already have access to all the research they require though their libraries, which subscribe to all the important journals. Almost everything in this argument is false. First of all, it is worth spotting that this argument is very typical to the old and well-known syndrome that might be called ‘professional conservatism’. Professional conservatives defend their positions by claiming that there is only one way of gaining the abilities they have (the very same way they did). According to academic conservatives to become a ‘real scientist’ you have to graduate from one of the top tier universities and then get a job there. They ignore the fact that there were always some people who were able to become top representatives of their fields without working at any university (like Albert Einstein or Alfred Schütz). It is true that contemporaneously scientific knowledge is unbelievable complex, thus a huge amount of time is needed to become an expert in any field. Although at the very same time, this knowledge is broadly available, thanks to digital reproduction and computer networks. Top universities provide on-line courses for free, classical scientific works are digitalized and available globally, whole fields of science are turning to open data and open access models (at this moment virtually all data in paleogenomics is freely available, and 12 out of 15 journals in high energy physics are open access). On the other hand, a big part of knowledge is still hidden behind pay walls. Old, well-known journals are usually published in a subscription-based model, so they can only be read in libraries that subscribe to these journals. Access to this knowledge is very expensive, and rich universities spend millions of dollars on subscriptions. People who do not work at these universities usually have no access to conventional journals or just to very few of them, subscribed to by their library. But do they need this access? I think that we need them to have access ..."