Open Access is about sharing, unity and sanity, not about money

20th September 2013

Michael P. Taylor
Department of Earth Sciences
University of Bristol
Bristol BS8 1RJ

The open-access movement launched ten years ago with a series of manifestoes -- the Budapest, Bethesda and Berlin declarations -- that were notable as much for their high ideals as for their practical recommendations. A decade on, enormous progress has been made towards the goal of universal access -- thanks in part to individual researchers, but also to institution, funder and government open-access mandates. But with funders' understandable emphasis on finances, something important is in danger of being lost.

Open Access is about more than finding a cheaper way to run the business of publishing. It's about sharing research; it's about researchers fulfilling their social contract with the world that pays them; it's about radically transforming the relationship between authors and publishers, so that they are on the same side rather than aiming for opposite goals; it's about accepting that distribution is free in the 21st Century, and that imposing barriers to the propagation of knowledge is unnatural and immoral.

The Green-vs-Gold debate, which has become unnecessarily polarised by each side's failure to appreciate the stregths of the other strategy, must not be allowed to obscure the fundamental goals of open access. We are not groping towards cost savings. We're transforming what it is to do research.

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