Some time back, I had written about the inaccessibility of scholarly journals and how it’s a pain for everyone in the academia, especially for graduate students like me who are pretty new to the field. As the story goes, established journal publishers are charging exorbitant subscription rates for popular journals (which we need to read and cite).
While most libraries budget enough to subscribe them, my take on it is on a bigger level; that such journals should really be open and free. Though having access to the article itself can be a challenge, Google Scholar makes part of this a reality whereby anyone can easily search for topics across multiple disciplines of journals.
The ScholCom 2004 conference directly address these issues and it was where speaker Clifford Lynch best summed up the idea: He asked us to imagine a world in which the graduating senior left school with an iPod on her hip filled with a general library of their field. Imagine if we could share scholarly articles like we did with mp3s on Napster… Like Alex Halavais, I find this a very powerful vision.
Fortunately for us, there are open access journals available on the web. Even better news was the release of the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) yesterday. This service covers free, full text, quality controlled scientific and scholarly journals. DOAJ covers all subjects and languages and there are now 1530 journals in the directory. Currently 385 journals are searchable at article level and as of yesterday 71910 articles are included in the DOAJ service.
With open access to scholarly work, the rest of the world would have a better understand and appreciation for what goes on in each field. There would be no more stereotyping academics as being alienated from the rest of the world by hiding in their ivory tower. Finally, in response to “crap” that we sometimes see published, it would push academia to produce more meaningful work, since they would be pressured to be publicly accountable for work they produce.