Saturday, March 22, 2014

John Willinsky Open Access Lecture; Open Access "Sting," etc.

John Willinsky, I’ve learned, is one of the big names for open access advocacy. I was originally looking for his chapter in the book Critical Perspectives on International Education (2013) called “Development and Open Access” (since I’ve heard open access promoted as a potential way of overcoming the concentration of scholarly wealth in the global North). Ironically, given Willinsky’s laudable stance on open access, I couldn’t access and share it. Maybe he’s self-archived his chapter somewhere, but I couldn’t locate it anywhere on the internet for free (Springer charges 29.95 to download it). I was able to access the book chapter via UW Libraries  Ebook Library (EBL) subscription, but I couldn’t figure out an easy way (EBL’s use and copy restrictions confounded me) to copy and share the chapter.

Instead, I found a video of Willinsky’s recent keynote address for Open Access Week at Virginia Tech on Oct 24, 2013 (see blog below for another access point). The video includes arguments for why open access (especially for scholarly articles produced at publicly financed land grant universities) is good and necessary for the public good. He also explains how he became a proponent of open access. Willinsky is mentioned in the Roy Rosensweig’s article about the AHA. In the video, Willinksy mentions that he was a friend of Rosensweig (who died in 2007) and actually responds to a question from an audience member about AHA’s recent movement away from open access (at minute 52).  This link to the VT blog contains a nice summary of the lectures main points and has embedded a the video of the lecture.

In the final minutes (1 hr 6 min) of the address, Willinksky responds to a controversy concerning John Bohannon’s Science expose which appeared a week or so ahead of the celebration of Open Access Week (2013). Bohannon's  “sting” of open access journals was meant to expose the weak peer-review process that his article implies is endemic to open access journals.  Successful sting or not (see SciELO discussion/responses), the article does raise important issues about peer-review/quality control (even for major publishers like Elsevier and Sage) and the existence of “predatory” journals. The controversy reminds me of the criticisms and discussion surrounding Wikipedia in its early years, and I thought Willinsky’s response was pretty thoughtful.

As an “added bonus” I’m including a link to the PDF version of Peter Suber’s (another big open access name) book Open Access (2013). Besides being a useful resource it seems like a fine example of open access in action, as the PDF was made available free to anyone by MIT Press one year after its original publication. 

Sources cited: 

John Willinksy. Open Access Week Virginia Tech University Keynote Address (video) 24 Oct. 2013. 20 March 2014 <>.

Philip Young. "OA Week Event: Keynote Address by John Willinsky." Open @ VT Blog 26 Oct. 2013. 20 March 2014 

John Bohannon. "Who's Afraid of Peer Review." Science 4 Oct. 2013. 20 March 2014 <>.

SciELO in Perspective."Controversial article in the journal Science exposes the weaknesses of peer-review in a set of Open Access journals."  Online blog posting. 5 Nov. 2013. 20 March 2014 <>.

Peter Suber. Open Access. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2013 (Online PDF version) 20 March 2014

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.