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CLASSICS-L  March 2008, Week 1

CLASSICS-L March 2008, Week 1

Subject:

Re: Sustainability in publishing: print vs. open source journals

From:

Terrence Lockyer <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Classical Greek and Latin Discussion Group <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sat, 1 Mar 2008 10:48:03 +0200

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (50 lines)

I don't what to comment on anything in John M.
McMahon's post - which, oddly, was displayed for me in
"Japanese (JIS)" [??!!??] - but on his subject-line.
Unfortunately, for many of us, and especially for those
of us, whether we might be called independent scholars
or just interested amateurs looking for scholarly
information, outside formal academia, it isn't a choice
been print and digital, but between print and
unavailable.  Why?  Because the dichotomy in JMM's
subject-line is false:  journals are for the most part
not "print vs. open source", but "print vs. electronic,
in subscriber only databases".  Many of these databases
are available to subscribers at fees only institutions
can afford, presumably to prevent a situation in which
individual scholars in a department use their private
subscriptions to make articles available to colleagues
and students, rather than an institutional license,
much as, in smaller departments, individual members
might donate their personal copies of journals to a
departmental collection, where the institutional
library doesn't have a (much costlier, usually)
institutional subscription.  And in at least some, and
for all I know many, cases - even ones in which the
databases are available in institutional libraries and
those libraries have options for access to the library
for those who are not their own students or staff - the
databases are STILL off-limits to those outside the
institutional setting due to the terms of the licence.
Result?  If you are not a student or employee of a
university or equivalent institution, electronic access
to journals is not for you, and if the library doesn't
keep a journal in paper, you are barred from reading
it.  Others might like to reflect on how this plays
into the "corporate" model of higher education;  but to
me, it seems to create a situation in which those who
are not lucky enough to be employed in higher
education, and are not able to continually pay for its
"product", are cut off from the scholarly conversation,
giving the lie to the claim of increasing the body of
human knowledge, because the knowledge is carefully
fenced off from the vast majority of humans.

(And no, before anyone misunderstands, this is not a 
formulaic rant against academics or experts, but a 
complaint about the mode of access to particular kinds 
of publications.)


Terrence Lockyer
Johannesburg, South Africa 

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