As De Gruyter announces its collaborative initiative to make works and articles in social sciences, humanities and other fields available in free access, it also highlights its difference from open access.
A Blog Article by Pablo Markin.
On April 6, 2017, jointly with other publishing houses, De Gruyter has demonstrated its commitment to furthering informed public discourse in the fields of human and minority rights, area and environmental studies, and social responsibility and legal history.
This initiative has been launched by De Gruyter in collaboration with top-tier academic publishing houses, such as Harvard University Press, Columbia University Press, Princeton University Press, Cornell University Press, University of Pennsylvania Press and Transcript-Verlag. While the selected books and article content comprises 500 items that will be freely available until December 31, 2017, this initiative also puts a spotlight on the key differences between open access and free access as similar but not identical publishing formats.
More specifically, though, as De Gruyter’s Steve Fallon notes, such an initiative can enrich the public understanding of respective topics that each thematic collection deals with via free access to relevant academic works, university libraries and publishing houses remain gate-keepers of knowledge as it is their responsibility to manage the access rights to these publications. In other words, free access has hidden costs not only in terms of demanding from public and private organizations to forgo income that fee-based access entails, but also through the generation of additional transactions participating publishing houses and academic libraries have to handle, to activate the access to the selected works. Furthermore, free access content can both have an explicit expiration date, as in this case, and entail access interruptions, due to changed circumstances.
By contrast, despite being dependent on governmental grants and author fees, open access, as a format, is not expected to impose conditionalities on publications that are published via this channel. This also simplifies their handling by both individual researchers or students and associated institutions, as open access licensing terms, such as Creative Commons, regulate their dissemination and use, which is not necessarily the case for free access content.
By Pablo Markin
Featured Image Credits: Human Rights Council – 14th Session, June 15, 2010 | © Courtesy of UN Geneva.