The Golden Rule: “If you want open access to the research in your field, as a reader, then make your own research open access, as an author.”

This “hat tip” goes to Springer’s Author Zone Newsletter (Issue 10, January 2012) featuring an interview with longtime open access advocate Peter Suber. Suber concludes his response to a question summarizing the benefits for authors to publish open access by saying:

Finally, authors who make their own work OA contribute to a milieu in which others do the same. It’s the golden rule. If you want OA to the research in your field, as a reader, then make your own research OA, as an author. (emphasis added)

Now there’s a principle that should resonate with scholars in Religion!

Springer is a large international commercial publisher that has in recent years become heavily involved in open access through their SpringerOpen division and platform. Although strongly oriented toward the sciences (STM), last week I received an email from the Senior Publishing Editor in Philosophy & Religious Studies informing me they would like to try to develop more open access journals in Philosophy and Religious Studies. An interesting development. I’m waiting for a reply to my request for more information.

The interview above links to a more extensive interview conducted by Richard Poynder with Peter Suber in the July/August 2011 issue of InformationToday (Volume 28, Number 7), “Suber: Leader of a Leaderless Revolution.” This interview is very much worth a read as a way to get an overview and insight into the issues at play in the open access publishing landscape.

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Posted in "The Hat Tip", Commercial Publishing, Economics & Business Models, Intellectual Property & Copyright, Interviews (Scholars), Libraries & OA, OA Policies, Open Access, Peer Review
3 comments on “The Golden Rule: “If you want open access to the research in your field, as a reader, then make your own research open access, as an author.”
  1. ”Knowledge like the sky is never private property”
    (Abraham Joshua Heschel)
    I’ll be honest here. This statement when I first read it made no sense to me whatsoever. Having interpreted this question to be more relating to ”Intellectual property” and confidential information I thought ”What absurd! Intellectual property exists to motivate people to create intellectual property. Why spend years inventing something if anyone else could copy it and make it impossible for you to recover your investment of time and money and make a profit? The odds are against you to start with; if the result is not private for at least a short while, there wouldn’t be any incentive. Privacy would be essentially gone since anyone would be at the mercy of whoever wished to ferret out private ”knowledge”.” So, I figured, it’s one of those statements (like ”The Internet is free”) that sounds good on a bumper sticker but makes no sense on a closer examination.
    Not being satisfied with this conclusion I decided to look up and, it turns out — this quote has an essential part missing! The full citation looks like this: Knowledge like the sky is never private property… Teaching is the art of sharing.
    Now, that’s different! How very true! A profound statement — I agree that all knowledge should be shared, but sadly it doesn’t work like that — many people keep information to themselves whereas in sharing it they could help others. Hence this is a sign of their insecurity. Only people who don’t have enough love for themselves don’t delight in sharing. I believe they sort of get their feeling of importance by keeping whatever it is they have learned to themselves… But, I think it’s their problem and it’s them who suffer most. For the Golden Rule swings both ways…
    All figurative language aside, there’s been a lot of speculation recently whether knowledge should be free or not. But I find this question rather relative… There are two kinds of knowledge, you know. Knowledge that is sold and knowledge you can aquire yourself which is a major tool for self-improvement. If it’s the type of knowledge you buy by attending school, university, college etc. – than it’s one thing. You have to go to school so you can make it in this life, i.e. get a good job etc. It’s an imperative part of the economy. The very fabric of it would begin unravelling if you didn’t have to pay for your education. It’s really the same thing as believing that the simple things like air, water and place to live ought to be free. Still they’re a necessary evil — as is balancing the checkbook. That makes me concerned though, about skyrocketing college costs. It’s almost like some powerful forces want fewer and fewer people get a quality education.
    That brings me to the second kind of knowledge — the one you get for free. Why not use familiar or local resources to learn something new? Like, visit a library? Library has aptly been described as the people’s university. It provides free and open access to anyone in the world without distinction to nationality or income. The physicist Richard Feynman wrote a book titled ”The Pleasure of Finding Things Out”. The facts are there for everyone and all possibilities are worth researching. So if there’s something someone wants to find out, I always tell them to start with the place that’s got it all — the library.
    But whatever kind of knowledge one prefers, I would say knowledge is like the sky, because the sky is high and knowledge is something to aspire to. Also, when you are up in the sky, you get a good view of everything, and knowledge is something that gives you good perspective, as well. I am always eager to learn, because in some ways, the reward is in the development. The more you learn, the more you want to know.
    I understand why Abraham Heschel was of the opinion that teaching is the art of sharing. When you learn something you talk to others about it. Knowledge cannot grow in a vacuum. Study and conversation can only get you so far. After a while you have to get out there and experience things for yourself. Then after you incorporate the newly obtained knowledge into your own thinking you may or may not be ready to share your knowledge with others. Therefore the nature of the learning process is that of discovery, discussion and reflection. Sharing thus comes as a result.
    Knowledge is power. One may be surprised to discover that such an investment of time or money might actually pay off in a bigger way than he expected. The knowledge you gain will be aptly applied to things that pop up later down the line. It’s hard to regret the time you’ve spent on learning for it is always worthwhile.

  2. Harnad, S. (2003) Self-Archive Unto Others as Ye Would Have Them Self-Archive Unto You.
    The Australian Higher Education Supplement and in: University Affairs, December 2003
    Jekyll.comm 6 http://eprints.ecs.soton.ac.uk/7724/

    • Gary F. Daught says:

      Thanks for the link to your article Stevan—a great read, and another open access application of the Golden Rule.

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