Photo: Onions, own work. The photo, not the onions, I mean.
Warning: very strange thought experiment.
Calls for us to make our literature open-access have become a routine thing, and many of them are quite impassioned. I’m thinking, for example, of folks who announce that they will only review for open-access journals, or even those who announce (bizarrely) that they will only read open-access papers. There’s a widespread belief that open-access literature is not just a social good (which it surely is) but an important social good, perhaps even a critical social good*.
But there’s something odd here. It isn’t the argument itself (which we certainly ought to be having); instead, it’s where we stop making it. Because you know what else ought to be open-access? Groceries.
Yes, I know that sounds ridiculous; but there are actually some non-trivial parallels. Stay with me for a bit. Continue reading
Lock image: SimpleIcon http://www.simpleicon.com, CC BY 3.0
Every week or two I see a tweet, or overhear a conversation, from somebody bemoaning the difficulty of accessing a paper. Often it reads about like this:
Another day, another paywalled paper I can’t access and won’t cite. Moving on to read some open science….*
I get that open-access is an attractive model**. I’d be pleased if we moved all our literature this way, although only if that meant that we had solved the (enormous) transitional funding problems and dealt with the inevitable unintended consequences. But none of that matters to a simple and important point: I don’t care how fervent an open-access advocate you are; it’s still your job to use our literature properly. It’s absurd to claim that a paper deserves to be read and cited if it’s published in The American International Journal of Ecography (a hypothetical open-access journal that’s predatory with fraudulent peer review***), but not if published in The American Naturalist (a subscription-model journal of very high quality published by a great society). Absurd. Continue reading