On “Open Access is a Research Community Matter, Not a Publishing Community Matter,” by Stevan Harnad

On “Open Access is a Research Community Matter, Not a Publishing Community Matter,” by Stevan Harnad

In this short article, Stevan Harnad repeats his argument that Green OA (i.e., depositing research in OA repositories) is the best path toward the widespread adoption and implementation of open access. In “Open Access is a Research Community Matter, Not a Publishing Community Matter,” he aims to convince researchers to self-archive or deposit their own output because publishers do not yet have enough impetus to commit wholly to open access. Further, Harnad argues, “researchers’ institutions and funders need to mandate OA self-archiving, as a natural extension of their existing publish-or-perish mandate, upgraded for the online era, as a growing number […] are already doing” (118).

Notably, Harnad reminds his readers that publishers are supposed to be serving the academy, not the other way around. He writes, “it’s time for the publishing tail to stop trying to wag the research dog” (118). I agree very much with the arguments Harnad puts forth here, and as always, his thorough grasp on the scholarly communication ecosystem grounds his argument and gives it substance. However, I do wonder how realistic it is to put the onus of OA on researchers. Scholars, we know, are busy people. I truly believe that scholars are not lazy or apathetic regarding open access to research; rather, they are working within the confines of their institution as well as the confines of their own research practice and available time. If we are to expect researchers to embrace open access fully, we need to make it the de facto option for academic publishing — and that means that institutional reward systems and required professional practices must change.

Work cited

Harnad, Stevan. 2011. “Open Access is a Research Community Matter, Not a Publishing Community Matter.” Lifelong Learning in Europe XVI (2): 117-18.

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