Why Open Access Has To Look Up For Academic Publishing To Look Up

In 2011, speaking impassionately to an audience at CERN – one of the world’s largest institutions for nuclear physics research, headquartered in Geneva – Lessig, a professor of law at Harvard Law School and a political activist, highlighted the crisis of access to scientific scholarship. Indeed, over the last six decades, public access to scholarly works has diminished. Works that can be freely searched and read represent only a sliver of the entire wealth of human knowledge.

With the emergence of academic journals in the seventeenth century, the practice of exchanging manuscripts for review and comments became popular, leading to the establishment of the peer-review system. In fact, until the eighteenth century, there existed a strong belief in the intellectual commons and traditions of sharing knowledge between scholars. These traditions dated back to scholarship flourishing in ancient Greece. Open access was the default, and not the exception to the norm. Continue…