Open Access

Three hundred years of piracy: why academic books should be free

George Walkden's picture

I think academic books should be free.

It's not a radically new proposal, but I'd like to clarify what I mean by "free". First, there's the financial sense: books should be free in that there should be no cost to either the author or the reader. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, books should be free in terms of what the reader can do with them: copying, sharing, creating derivative works, and more.

I'm not going to go down the murky road of what exactly a modern academic book actually is. I'm just going to take it for granted that there is such a thing, and that it will continue to have a niche in the scholarly ecosystem of the future, even if it doesn't have the pre-eminent role it has at present in some disciplines, or even the same form and structure. (For instance, I'd be pretty keen to see an academic monograph written in Choose Your Own Adventure style.)

A Pirate reads Piketty, part 1: Knowledge and Equality

George Walkden's picture

Back in 2014, Thomas Piketty's book Capital in the Twenty-First Century came as close to being a popular sensation as a 700-page economic tome can get, winning acclaim from a variety of sectors and propelling Piketty into the company of well-known "public economists" such as Joseph Stiglitz and Paul Krugman. A little late to the game, I decided to take a look for myself. I felt motivated to write this series of posts because it turns out that core Pirate principles and Piketty's main messages are more closely entwined than one might imagine.

Open Access and Open Data

Open Access

The results of any research funded, in whole or in part, by public money must be published in open access scientific journals or by other means which make them readily accessible to the general population for free.

Make publicly funded academic research available to all 

We believe that it is vital that the results of academic research produced in universities that receive public money should be available to all, in accordance with the Budapest Open Access Initiative.

We support the existing government policy that all academic research funded or partially funded by the taxpayer via the UK Research Councils is published under a CC-BY license.

We will ensure that the policy is enforced, and encourage the research councils to set up central subject-specific repositories similar to the UKPubMed database for deposit of manuscripts.

Who Owns Knowledge

Speaker: 
Ms. Sephie Hallow
Talk Date: 
Saturday, 6 July, 2013
Talk Location: 
University of York Philosophy Society
United Kingdom

The Case for Open Access.

George Walkden's picture

A large proportion of academic research in the UK is taxpayer-funded. The money comes either via grants from the Research Councils, on which the government spends approximately £3 billion each year, or directly to universities from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), which in 2011-12 distributed £1.6 billion.

The transformative potential of world-class research is pretty clear. In the last few years alone, UK researchers have developed the wonder material graphene and discovered the body of Richard III, among other things. Yet, in a curious and inequitable twist of fate, the results of this research have for the most part never been made available to the taxpayers who funded it.

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