Robin Osborne on why open access makes no sense

Academic research is different in kind from industrial contract research where the funder determines the activity and therefore is entitled to decide the use to which the results are put. The inspiration for research-council projects come from academics who therefore should retain the right to determine the form and location of the outputs, argues Robin Osborne writing in Debating Open Access, a new publication from the British Academy. There is no clear dividing line between projects funded by research councils and an academic’s daily activities of thinking and teaching. If there are fees for access to teaching there should be fees for access to research. Under the current system quality control is encouraged, and so is writing for a broader rather than a narrower readership. Under Gold OA there is a risk that the amount of work published increases and the quality decreases as publishers seek to maximise income from APCs.

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Robin Osborne FBA Professor of Ancient History in the University of Cambridge, Fellow and Senior Tutor of King’s College Cambridge and a Fellow of the British Academy. He was Chairman of the Council of University Classical Departments 2006–2012, and President of the Classical Association in 2012–13. He is the Chairman of Sub-Panel 31 in the upcoming REF 2014. His work ranges over the fields of ancient Greek History, archaeology and Art History. His recent books include the second edition of his Greece in the Making, 1200–479 B.C. (London: Routledge, 2009); Athens and Athenian Democracy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010) and The History Written on the Classical Greek Body (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011). His list of publications is freely available at but you have to pay for his books.

Read more about Debating Open Access, a collection of a series of 8 reflecting on the challenges and opportunities for humanities and social sciences open access publishing practices.

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British Academy

The British Academy is the UK’s national body which champions and supports the humanities and social sciences. It is an independent, self-governing fellowship of scholars, elected for their distinction in research and publication. Our purpose is to inspire, recognise and support excellence in the humanities and social sciences, throughout the UK and internationally, and to champion their role and value.

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