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Thursday, 5th December 2013

Open Access Perspectives in the Humanities and Social Sciences

Source: LSE Public Policy Group (UK)

From the Foreword:

So long as books and journals lived in the world of physical products – and incredibly enough all too many academic books still languish on in this status alone – the roles of publishers and book retailers and book sellers all made sense. And modern publishing has generally developed in ways that in many countries (like the USA) and in some markets (like popular fiction) deliver remarkable value for money. But academic publishing has been a great exception to the rule, especially in high cost countries like the UK and (even more so) Australia. Paper books have for years competed unavailingly against journals, as academics and universities move towards setting (and to a large extent only discussing in classes) items that can be accessed directly and simultaneously by whole class groups from learning management systems like Moodle and Blackboard... Journals secured a key advantage by going digital first, radically improving their accessibility versus books, for a time and at a huge price.

Yet now journal articles are all online, most serious or major books will move into electronic format, and scholarly work will become a fully digital product... Add in open access and the possible scope for disintermediation widens dramatically....

Disintermediation battles have happened before and always the incumbent industry segment (that is most at risk from being cut out) has battled to protect its established methods of working and associated profit levels for far too long, fighting on into the last ditch for the last penny of margins from obsolescent products, inhibiting innovation and erecting pay walls that systematically suppress consumption. Both publishers and academia face enormous pain in moving to a new model with open access at its heart. But if the academic publishing industry does not quickly change its current stance, universities will get their own. In the immortal words of the disco hit, academics will be ‘doing it for themselves, dancing on their own two feet and ringing on their own bells’.

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Having begun his career in academic libraries, Adrian Janes has subsequently worked extensively in public libraries, chiefly in enquiry work as an Information Services librarian. In this role he has had particular responsibility for information from both the UK Government and the European Union. He wrote a detailed report on sources for the latter which was published by FreePint in 2007, and has contributed articles to FreePint and ResourceShelf. He is involved in training in information literacy and the use of online reference resources.

A Contributing Editor to DocuTicker, he also write reviews for Pennyblackmusic.

Adrian can be reached at adrian.janes@freepint.com

More articles by Adrian Janes »

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