On “Will Open Access Change the Game?” by Sven Fund

On “Will Open Access Change the Game?” by Sven Fund

In “Will Open Access Change the Game?: Hypotheses on the Future Cooperation of Libraries, Researchers, and Publishers,” Sven Fund considers open access publishing as analogous to the disruptive technologies that have become trademarks of digital technology. He argues that open access will “most likely lead to wanted and unwanted developments and consequences for different actors” (206). Fund rightly suggests that the long term impacts of open access have not been sufficiently considered; he does not, however, answer such a need in this article. Rather, he bemoans the potential game-changing effect of open access, and the “questionable value of putting a successful revenue stream at risk” (206). Fund deigns to mention that said revenue stream is, in fact, a monopoly funded by struggling university libraries.

Throughout the article Fund compares the emergence of open access publishing to the evolution in the music industry from CDs to digital streaming. This comparison has been made previously, although not necessarily in the terms Fund uses; rather, the comparisons usually stem from highlighting two industries that translate seemingly infinite, unpaid or low-paid resources into massive profit. (Other resource extraction industries, like crude oil, also fall into this category.) Fund’s suggestion that journal subscriptions will be akin to tapes and vinyl records also falls flat, as it is difficult to see the same nostalgia-laden collectors spring up around Elsevier’s back catalogue in 20 years.

Overall, Fund champions the slow growth of open access. “While [the Open Access movement] has achieved remarkable change within the system,” he writes, “this has not led to a paradigmatic change, which is good news for researchers, librarians, and finally for publishers” (209). It is obvious to see how this benefits traditional publishers, as Fund points out throughout the article; the benefits Fund totes for researchers and librarians are less convincing.

Work cited

Fund, Sven. 2015. “Will Open Access Change the Game?: Hypotheses on the Future Cooperation of Libraries, Researchers, and Publishers.” Bibliothek 39 (2): 206–09.

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