Monday, January 14, 2013

Comments on JSTOR's Register and Reading and Early Content

Comments on JSTOR's Register and Reading and Early Content (response to post on Omega Alpha Open Access)

Register and Read and similar programs raise for me huge privacy flags. Libraries have gone to considerable efforts to ensure that the searching and reading behaviour of individual scholars is NOT tracked.

Register and Read looks more like a sales tactic for JSTOR's pay-per-view than a sincere attempt to move towards open access or expanded access. Researchers can access a few articles, but if they want to be able to keep them on their hard drives and make full use of access under Register and Read, they must purchase a copy. In other words, it's only free if it's not all that useful, or the number of real free articles online is actually much, much smaller than what JSTOR portrays.

Open access is literature that is digital, online, free of charge and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions (Suber, Overview). Register and Read does not remotely meet this definition.

Kudos to JSTOR for releasing public domain content on September 6, 2011 (not long after Aaron Swartz downloaded JSTOR content).

Suggestions for improvement:

Link to the early journal content from the JSTOR main page - where it is, it is not easy to find.

Work with journals to provide free access to back issues. The journals participating in Highwire Free are a good model. A large portion provide free access to back issues, often after one year:

As for Register and Read, I would suggest ignoring JSTOR altogether. Get in touch with the authors of articles you wish to read and ask them to put them in their institutional repository - the amount of work this would take wouldn't be much different, but there would be a world of difference in the results. JSTOR Register & Read gets you limited access to an article, just for you; if the author puts the article in their IR for open access, it is freely available to anyone, anywhere.


Heather Morrison