Open Access: (Social) Sciences as Public Good

Katja Mruck, Stefan Gradmann, Günter Mey


The need to provide open access to articles published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals is becoming apparent to researchers as well as the non-scientific public as a result of "Budapest Open Access Initiative," the "Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities" and other initiatives. The core question that concerns open access is the following: since scientific information is usually financed by public funding, and therefore a public good, shouldn't the access be free of cost to all interested parties. Currently the open access movement is encountering the movement against the "Digital Divide," and therefore it is not surprising that the demand for open access has extended to a political level as reflected in the "WSIS Declaration of Principles" and the "WSIS Plan of Action." This article begins by providing a brief summary of the historical background of the open access movement and its major aims (Section 2). It then lists examples that explain possible links between the open access movement and the initiatives against the "Digital Divide" (Section 3). Section 4 considers some important barriers responsible for the fact that open access publishing is still not part of the everyday scientific publishing practices. This has various consequences. Selected consequences concerning the recent debate on redistribution processes between "information poor" and "information rich" are summarized in Section 5. URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0402141


open access; free public access to scientific information; electronic publishing; digital divide; crisis of scientific information


Copyright (c) 2004 Katja Mruck, Stefan Gradmann, Günter Mey

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