Open Access? An Important Question. A Handful of Links.

From Cathy Davidson’s HASTAC-hosted blog comes the news that “the Academic Council at Duke University unanimously adopted an Open Access policy for scholarly articles written by the Duke faculty.” In a post at Scholarly Communications @ Duke, Kevin Smith writes

One thing that librarians often believe is that faculty will only be motivated for open access by their own self-interest — impact, citation and the like. But yesterday Cathy Davidson made an eloquent plea for greater access for people around the world who are blocked by high subscriptions costs and other “toll-access” policies. All round the room, heads were nodding as she spoke. I was reminded that most faculty members genuinely do care about the overall welfare of scholarship and learning.

Smith, in turn, links to Joseph Esposito’s “Let’s Make Open Access Work,” published at The Scholarly Kitchen, a blog of the Society for Scholarly Publishing Esposito’s post opens with

This is a blog post that will please no one. That is not the intention; I am not writing it to pick fights. But the topic is open access (OA), and on this topic, fights inevitably erupt; it is scholarly communications’ equivalent of the Culture Wars. For my part, I stand with Voltaire: The perfect is the enemy of the good. Already in the background I can hear advocates of perfection beginning to sharpen their swords. So, without reference to the many arguments on all sides of the matter, How can we make OA work?…

Yesterday, during the first of our 2 “Digital Eighteenth Century 2.0″ roundtable discussions, the issue of access to and cost of digital scholarly materials came up with regard to Gale/Cengage’s commercial, full-text database of primary materials Eighteenth-Century Collections Online (ECCO). (See “18th connect and the sustainability of scholarly collaboration,” by David Mazella at The Long 18th, 6 July 2009) This is not the same kind of resource as, say, peer-reviewed scholarly articles, but many of the issues at stake are the same. A full summary of the back-and-forth that took place is beyond the scope of this quick blog post, but an extremely brief précis would note that on the one hand is awareness of the cost associated with creating and maintaining such a resource, while on the other hand is a desire to see as wide an audience as possible of scholars and teachers and students gain access.

More conversation to continue this morning at the second “Digital Eighteenth Century 2.0″ roundtable…