Open Access Button; Thursday 2014-04-10:1300 London; This is where scholarly publishing gets changed

Tomorrow is a very important day for OPEN – the Open Access Button initiative (https://www.openaccessbutton.org )┬áis holding an afternoon get-together in London.

The OAButton is driven by undergraduates – initially in Medicine – who are frustrated and now ANGRY about publishers’ paywalls. It’s immoral that medical information should only be available to <0.1% of the world. And – to be quite clear – there are only two things driving paywalls:

  • publishers’ greed
  • academics’ lock-in to the quest for personal glory

OAButton is initially raw anger – this is unacceptable and must be changed. Simply tell the the world. It’s a Digital Century demonstration – a freedom march. My generation marched to Aldermaston, Greenham Common and Molesworth to protest against the injustice or nuclear weapons; OAButton is similarly digitally marching against publishers’s paywalls.

Protects often start off slow and are ridiculed. You may be tempted to write off the OAButton as a few undergraduates making a protest that no-one will take seriously. You would be very foolish. Protest can grow rapidly into mass action. The driving force is injustice, because:

CLOSED ACCESS MEANS PEOPLE DIE

And the publishing industry has now very few friends except their shareholders and those entertained by their lobbyists. They’re aren’t now selling any useful service – the academics do the writing, the review. The publishers technical ability is AWFUL – they make things worse.

So the publishers are selling two things:

  • branded glory for academics and universities
  • fear: through their lawyers

Anything else can be created and delivered without publishers. So publishing is broken and could collapse and any time. It relies totally on academic glory. It points backwards.

And the OAButton points forward. The future belongs to undergraduates, and I’m backing them. I don’t know where they are going, but I hope they throw off compromise, fudge, bureaucracy, mumble.

I’m going to London tomorrow. I shall listen. It’s possible that our own effort to create a bibliography of scientific data may be useful. If you’re young at heart, idealistic, motivated and courageous get involved!