Thursday, September 17, 2009

Compact for Open Access Publishing Equity: a key step in transition to OA

The Compact for Open Access Publishing Equity (COPE) calls on universities to make a commitment to providing equity to open access journals. This is a key step in the transition to open access. I highly recommend joining COPE to every library, and university. Even if significant (or even any) funding is not immediately available, this is an important philosophical commitment to make, one that makes it possible to raise the question of whether such support should receive equal priority at budget time.

One of the reasons that this is a key step is simply the recognition of the role that universities play (through libraries) as support for scholarly communication. This has never been a standard commercial transaction, where one side produces goods and services that are then purchased by the other side. Rather, university faculty write, peer review, and often edit scholarly articles; much of the work is done on time and in office space provided by universities. This system is currently subsidized through library subscriptions. Shifting support so that open access journals receive equitable treatment is only fair.

My hopes for COPE are growth: I encourage every library and university to join. Also, I would like to see COPE someday move beyond support for article processing fees to include wholesale support for open access journals, hosting and support services, and more.

Congratulations and thanks to all of the initial signatories of COPE: Cornell, Harvard, Dartmouth, MIT, and the University of California at Berkeley.