Access to research at a price

dollars2My opposite number at Said Business School, University of Oxford, Chris Flegg, has penned a lucid and clear-minded article for the Financial Times Soapbox section – with the same title as this blogpost, I’m borrowing it – of their Business Education webpages, which you should all read. Her article summarises Harvard Business Review’s attempts to make Said, and several other business school libraries, pay extra for access to their articles despite the fact that they could already access them via existing expensive subscriptions to EBSCO’s Business Source. I blogged about this myself back in 2009: Drop the Pilot.

Chris’s article follows academic Joshua Gans’ attack on HBR’s renewed efforts to source revenue from libraries as we have once again been approached to pay up for direct access to HBR. The difference this time is that EBSCO have shamefully colluded with HBR and agreed to turn off our access to permalink to 500 of the ‘most popular’ HBR articles – actually within our existing subscriptions to Business Source Complete. A move which, quite honestly, beggars belief.

In her piece Chris goes on to identify the bigger picture at stake here:


Ironically I had to print screen this section of her article as the FT website wouldn’t let me copy and paste it!

Chris’s article goes on to consider these issues in respect of the Open Access debate which is a far trickier beast, however laudable the intention of OA, with its underlying arrangement of delivery ‘rife with likely irritations and stand-offs as in the Harvard case’.

I strongly advise you to first read Chris’s piece – worth it for the summary of the OA state of play alone – and then spread the message far and wide by all means at your disposal. Crucially we need more academics wading in – in support of us, understanding the complexity of the situation we are now facing. You can read Chris’s article here.

After talking to Chris about her article she flagged up another important point that also bears repetition: the fact that within the current OA debate there is a very bad and dangerous tendency for people who are critical of the present underlying business model, which surely we all agree needs to be radically altered, to be classed as anti-Open Access.


photo credit: borman818 via photopin cc


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