On “Open Access Publishing and Scholarly Values,” by Dan Cohen

On “Open Access Publishing and Scholarly Values,” by Dan Cohen

In the blog post “Open Access Publishing and Scholarly Values,” Dan Cohen identifies four emotions or values (impartiality, passion, shame, and narcissism), and relates them to the current scholarly communication system that often prioritizes toll-access publishing over open access options. His post is aimed at changing scholars’ minds, in particular. Cohen suggests that impartiality should reign over venue choice; that is, if scholarship is of good quality that should raise it in status rather than whether or not it was published in a leading journal. He emphasizes the importance of passion over careerism, and suggests that academia should only be for the passionate, not for the career-advancing. Regarding shame, Cohen provides evidence published by Ithaka that although most scholars find their research online, many do not value open, online publishing as much as they value the status of a journal. (He writes, “somehow it is finally seeming acceptable to use digital media and technology for parts of our work but to resist it in others” [n.p.]). And in playing to scholars’ narcissism, Cohen reminds his readers that open access publishing does in fact attract a much larger readership than traditional, toll access publishing does.

Cohen’s post is convincing and hits the mark in many ways. What is disappointing is that this post was originally written 7 years ago, in 2010. The arguments therein are sadly still relevant. As we begin to reach the golden years of the 2010s, it is disconcerting to consider that we may well enter another decade without widespread open access. In fact, as time progresses open access is increasingly being co-opted by groups who are offering for-profit open access models, a distinct contradiction in terms. Cohen calls open access publishing “a more simple—and virtuous—model for the future of scholarly communication” (n.p.), but 7 years into this scholarly communication future we are still having the same conversations about the feasibility and desirability of a truly open knowledge sharing system, while others have long since monetized such a system. Shame and narcissism indeed.

Work cited

Cohen, Daniel J. 2010. “Open Access Publishing and Scholarly Values.” Hacking the Academy. http://www.dancohen.org/2010/05/27/open-access-publishing-and-scholarly-values/

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