Friday, January 7, 2005

Open Access Gains Momentum as Five UK Journals Opt In via JISC Initiative

The Independent reports that the U.K.'s Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) is announcing funding for five more journals to go the open access route: The New Journal of Physics (published by the Institute of Physics Publishing); Nucleic Acids Research (Oxford University Press); Journal of Medical Genetics (British Medical Journals); the journals of the International Union of Crystallography; and The Journal of Experimental Botany (The Society for Experimental Biology). This again underlines the shifting role of copyright in today's world of professional content: with open access scientific journals the right to copy is generally not as important as the right to cite sources, a different kind of relationship with content than assumed by aggregators who want to continue to make profits off of subscription-based redistribution. Is this going to be the end of journals as we know them or aggregators? Certainly not. The press has moved from skepticism on open access to "Chicken Little" mode, declaring scientific journals as we know them all but dead. There are indeed going to be enormous changes as publishers and distributors search for 2005's "Models for Success," but while perhaps 90 percent of today's journals will not be able to survive as they operate today that does not mean that 90 percent will not survive. Most journals service very discrete communities, and as long as those communities of interest survive, so will the need to provide important content in important contexts. The "how" of delivering scientific content is changing rapidly, but the broader needs are not going away.
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