I have written here a number of times before about the movement toward providing open access to scholarly research, most recently in connection with the recommendation of faculty advisors to the Harvard University library that all faculty members to move to open access publication. I’ve also talked about the boycott of Reed Elsevier journals, organized via the Web site, thecostofknowledge.com. (There are now 11,282 researchers who have signed on to the boycott.)
Professor Andrew Appel, of Princeton’s Center for Information Technology Policy [CITP], has posted a three-part article on this issue the CITP’s Freedom to Tinker blog. [Direct links to Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3] He first points out that some professional societies, such as the ACM, the IEEE, and USENIX, do not require one-sided license agreements to publish papers in their journals. He then goes on to propose four alternative strategies for dealing with less reasonable journals and organizations.
- The consulting-contract model
- The charitable donations model
- The contract-hacking model
- The union organizing model
The whole article is a bit tongue in cheek — I especially like his “contract hacking” model, in which the author modifies the publication contract before signing and returning it, on the theory that no one ever reads the returned copies — but it is nonetheless a serious look at the issue, and a good reminder to academic authors that they really do have the power to change things.