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2010-10-24 Open Access Needs Free Software

La bibliothèque humaniste de Beatus Rhenanus / Humanist Library of Beatus Rhenanus

The "Open Access Movement" depends on Free Software

The past week was the Open Access Week to promote the open access to research publication and to encourage the academia to make this as a norm in scholarship and research. The movement is really important to ensure an adequate level of research innovation by easing the accessibility to the research papers. Especially to avoid editor locking where all the research publications when they are not easily accessible and you are forced to pay an outrageous price to just get access. I think Open Access is an inevitable way for scientific research in the future even if Nature (a non-Open Access publication) disagrees.

But there is an interesting paradox in the open access movement that need to be solved especially if it want to preserve their existence on the long run. The access must go further than just the access to the papers but to the infrastructure permitting the operation of open access. As an example, one of the major open access repository called arXiv where physics, chemistry or computer science open access papers are stored. arXiv had some funding difficulties in late 2009. What happens to those repositories when they run out of funding? A recent article in about open access forgot to mention about the free software aspect of those repositories? Why even promoters of free software forget to mention about the need of free software infrastructure for open access repositories? Where is the software back-end of HAL (archive ouverte pluridisciplinaire) or

Here is my call:

Open access is inspired by the free software movement but somehow forgets that its own existence is linked to free software. Next time, I see and I enjoy a new open access project in a specific scientific field. I will ask myself about their publication repository and its software.