Open Access Journals

     So I want to let you in on a little secret about me. I have always wanted to write an article and be published in a journal. I can’t remember not wanting to do this. I think it was a leftover from my Dad. He is a geologist who has worked on numerous publications (his most recent book: Cape Fear River Indians). In grade 4 I decided to be a teacher; sometime after that I knew that I wanted to see my name in print. This blog, alas, does not fill this dream. I want to be in one of those journals I remember perusing when writing my papers at UVic or seeing with my Dad. I have recently been hearing about Open Access Journals and how some educators are boycotting traditional journals in favour of Open Access ones. I thought that I would have a look, to see what I think about the subject.

     Where to start? I came across an article called called A Very Brief Introduction to Open Access by Peter Suber which seemed like a good place. For those of you familiar with the concepts he has a much more detailed version called Open Access Overview and Six things that researchers need to know about open access  (It also has a lot of resources).

     The Open Access movement is meant to remove barriers from others reading the information. Journal subscriptions and articles are very expensive to purchase. University libraries can spend quite a bit of money on having access to information. If someone does not have access to a university collection, it can be very costly to become or remain informed.

     There are two aspects to the Open Access movement. One is the journals themselves. The second is Open Achieves or Repositories.  The first difference that I see between these two is peer review. Repositories or achieves are not required to perform a peer review, anything can, in theory, be deposited there. This does depends on the archive though. It does not mean that journals are not peer reviewed, so make sure you know what you are looking at. Journal authors are encouraged to archive their work so it can be found by others.
Open Access does not necessarily mean free. As journals traditionally do not pay for the article, the reviewers or even the editor, this continues with Open Access Journals. There are still cost associated with Open Access but the funding model looks different and can be different for each journal.

Pros of Open Access Journals:

  • Access, Access, Access. There is access for everyone, not just those with money.
  • Articles, and the people who write them, are not hidden behind walls but are visible to all.
  • Less established people can publish.

Cons of Open Access Journals:

  • There are some terrible journals out there, full of mistakes & plagiarism, willing to publish is payment is received. Science had a flawed ‘spoof‘ paper published in a variety of journals.
  • In order to receive tenure, faculty often must publish in traditional format journals. By not doing so, one may risk career security.

     Overall? I think Open Access Journals & Repositories are the way to go. I think I have to do a lot more research on the matter. In all things, research the journal, the source before using it. Make sure you search from a quality list. Try one of the ones listed below. I am not at the point where I have to worry about publishing. I want to get there one day, but I hope by then, I will be more familiar with the system.

     My Goal: USE open journals next time I have to research for a paper. If I run in to a payment wall, maybe don’t log in with my University ID but try another route.

Further Information:
Here is a list of what various people and institutions can do to promote open access and what you should know about it. There are also publishers like Open Book Publishers that have a great repository of Open Books. The Directory of Open Access Journals has a list of Open Journals. You can also check out the Open Access Journals Search Engine.
For Repositories try Directory of Open Access Repositories and Registry of Open Access Repositories.

Intellectual Property war

There is a war going on, and I didn’t notice.

Two sides are fighting to determine who owns an idea. It is being fought on computers, in homes, and yes, in the courts.

On one side, the copyrighters, is made of a lot of powerful businesses, they own more than 90% of media in the united states. You may have heard of a few of them: Disney, BMG, Time Warner, Viacom, GE, Newscorp. They earn considerable profits from owning idea and letting consumers use them. That is, as long as the way that they are being used falls within particular parameters and they are being paid. They are controlling our culture in a very clever way. A person cannot take a song, change it or sample it, and then produce it.
The Verves “Bittersweet Symphony” used too much of an orchestral version of the Rolling Stones song “The Last Time“. The Verve had to give all their royalties & credit for the song to the Stones. What is interesting is the Stones got the idea for their song from The Staple Singers‘ gospel song “This May Be The Last Time“.
This side produces the anti-piracy ads. If you try to use an idea, paint a mickey mouse on the side of a daycare or download a song, without payment and permission, you are a criminal.

The other side, the remixers, including copyleft, creative commons and others, believes in the free access to knowledge and the ability to reshape and rework ideas. Public domain should be protected and shared.
A remixers manifesto:
1. Culture always builds on the past
2. The past always tries to control the future
3. Our future is becoming less free
4. To build free societies you must limit control of the past.
The first point, that culture builds on the past has long been acknowledged.
Bernard of Chartres said in the twelfth century that we are “perched on the shoulders of giants [the Ancients]” and so can see further. Essentially we are always building on the past or from the past comes the future. In his 2003 book According to the Rolling Stones, Keith Richards stated the song The Last Time: “was basically re-adapting a traditional Gospel song that had been sung by the Staple Singers, but luckily the song itself goes back into the mists of time…At least we put our own stamp on it, as the Staple Singers had done, and as many other people have before and since”.

What I find interesting is that as a society, we should limit the control of the past. I admit, it is not something that I have thought of before. When you have a child, you teach them your belief system, and your ways of knowing. Initially a child’s every move is controlled but as time passes and they grow and develop this control is gradually relinquished until they are ‘being’ on their own. Sometimes, they ask for advice, sometimes they accept advise, but ultimately who they are is up to them. They have grown up and we need to respect their ways of doing.
I am not sure why our creative creations or intellectual property. are different. When we first create our creation, we have control, but over time, control should be relinquished as it has its own life. Our children and our culture are the future. We need let go and admit that we have outgrown the archaic and oppressive copyright laws.