Open Access: (Social) Sciences as Public Good

  • Katja Mruck Freie Universität Berlin
  • Stefan Gradmann Universität Hamburg
  • Günter Mey University of Applied Sciences Magdeburg-Stendal
Keywords: open access, free public access to scientific information, electronic publishing, digital divide, crisis of scientific information


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


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Author Biographies

Katja Mruck, Freie Universität Berlin
Katja MRUCK ( ist promovierte Psychologin und Geschäftsführende Herausgeberin der dreisprachigen Open-Access-Zeitschrift Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research. FQS ist an der Freien Universität Berlin angesiedelt und wird von der Deutschen Forschungsgemeinschaft gefördert.
Stefan Gradmann, Universität Hamburg
Stefan GRADMANN ist Leiter der Gruppe VCB (Virtuelle Campusbibliothek) am Rechenzentrum der Universität Hamburg und Leiter des von der DFG geförderten Projektes German Academic Publishers, das den Aufbau eines verteilten deutschen Open-Access-Verlags zum Ziel hat.
Günter Mey, University of Applied Sciences Magdeburg-Stendal
Günter MEY ( ist promovierter Psychologe und Herausgeber von FQS. Er leitet das Fach Entwicklungspsychologie an der Technischen Universität Berlin.