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Yochai Benkler on Open Access - Dictionary of Arguments

Benkler I 323
Open Access/Scientific Publication/non-proprietary/Benkler: Scientific publication is a second sector where a nonproprietary strategy can be implemented readily and is already developing to supplant the proprietary model. Here, the existing market structure is quite odd in a way that likely makes it unstable. Authoring and peer review, the two core value-creating activities, are done by scientists who perform neither task in expectation of royalties or payment. The model of most publications, however, is highly proprietary. A small number of business organizations, like Elsevier Science, control most of the publications. Alongside them, professional associations of scientists also publish their major journals using a proprietary model.
I 324
Universities, whose scientists need access to the papers, incur substantial cost burdens to pay for the publications as a basic input into their own new work. While the effects of this odd system are heavily felt in universities in rich countries, the burden of subscription rates that go into the thousands of dollars per title make access to up-to-date scientific research prohibitive for universities and scientists working in poorer economies. Nonproprietary solutions are already beginning to emerge in this space.
The first cluster [of solution] is closer to the traditional peer-review publication model. It uses Internet communications to streamline the editorial and peer-review system, but still depends on a small, salaried editorial staff. Instead of relying on subscription payments, it relies on other forms of payments that do not require charging a price for the outputs.
I 325
The second approach to scientific publication parallels more closely free software development and peer production.
Academics post their completed work on their own Web sites and make it available freely. The primary limitation of this mechanism is the absence of an easy, single location where one can search for papers on a topic of concern. And yet we are already seeing the emergence of tagging standards and protocols that allow anyone to search the universe of self-archived materials. Once completed, such a development process would in principle render archiving by single points of reference unnecessary.


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The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.

Benkler I
Yochai Benkler
The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom New Haven 2007


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