Has the movement for open access in publishing reached a milestone?
As you probably know, Arcade is a venture in open-access publishing, which means we make our content available for free to everyone. We are allied with the Public Knowledge Project, which has pioneered the distribution of software to bring open access to scholarship in many disciplines, countries, and languages.
Those of us committed to open access look for signs that our values are gaining momentum, and in the past few years, there have been many. The rapacity of some commercial publishers who own scholarly journals has only helped. It is often remarked that something is wrong with a system that collects scholarship from its producers (that is, scholars) for free, and sells it back to their institutions at sometimes exorbitant rates.
This week the Harvard Library, through its Faculty Advisory Council, issued a statement that deserves attention. The statement noted the cost to Harvard of maintaining subscriptions to conventional journals, now nearly $3.75 million per year, and urged the faculty to support open access. We hope and expect that statements like this will be seen more often in the coming months and years. And we would like to suppose that they might provoke a new round of investment—not only of funds, but of time and commitment—in ventures like Arcade and its journals.
When we conceived Arcade, several of us on the Stanford faculty imagined what we could build if for one year we took all the time and thought that we, as authors and reviewers, give to conventional publishers, including university presses as well as journals, and did something else with them. We imagined: what if we put all that effort into a single venture that would reflect our values? That's what we tried to do.
I'll use this space occasionally to draw attention to new developments on this topic.