The issue of OA is technically, culturally and politically complex and deserves careful engagement by all scholars, writes Stephen Curry in Debating Open Access, a new publication from the British Academy. Through RCUK, the UK has adopted a transitional policy that favours Gold OA but needs to remain alert to worldwide developments in OA.
The concerns which have been expressed about predatory publishing in the wake of the move to OA are excessive. PLOS (Public Library of Science) has demonstrated that a sustainable OA model is consistent with effective peer review and high standards of publication. Questions of publication prestige may be different for science and HSS disciplines but need to be resolved by eliminating the culture of dependence on journal impact factors, which OA can facilitate. On balance OA encourages academic freedom. Concern about learned societies, although real, is unlikely to derail the OA project.
Stephen Curry, a native of Northern Ireland, is a Professor of Structural Biology at Imperial College where he teaches Life Sciences students at undergraduate and postgraduate level. His main research interests are in the molecular mechanisms of replication RNA viruses such as foot-and-mouth disease virus and noroviruses. A regular science blogger since 2008, he writes about his research, the scientific life past and present, and about the range of interactions between science and society on his blogs at Reciprocal Space and The Guardian. His writing has also appeared in Times Higher Education and New Scientist and he has been known to make films (imascientist-film.org.uk/) from time to time. A founder member and now vice-chair of the Science is Vital Campaign, Curry is also a member of the board of directors of the Campaign for Science and Engineering. He is an advocate of open access scholarly publishing and has taken a keen interest in recent, successful moves to reform the libel law of England and Wales. He can be found on twitter as @Stephen_Curry.
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.