I recently finished reading a long essay by Daniel Allington, a sociologist, linguist, and book historian living in the UK. He’s been following the debates about open access (OA) in the UK quite closelyand has written a well-informed piece detailing the hopes, limitations, and mandates associated with OA. The essay, entitled, “On open access, and why it’s not the answer,” brings a very careful analytical style to the proceedings, something that we encounter too infrequently, I believe.
His conclusion? OA is not the solution, partially because advocates can’t agree on the problem to be solved, partially because the economics of the OA solution shift financing but don’t solve the basic economic problems of science publishing, partially because OA seems far too disruptive for the purported benefits, and partially because the route to accessibility is only slightly dependent on economics but significantly dependent on expertise.
Read also: On open access, and why it’s not the answer