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Open Science Goes Mainstream, as Acquisitions of Open Source Platforms Based on Open Access and Collaboration Make Headlines

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Silicon Vikings, San Francisco, CA, USA, October 29, 2013 | © Courtesy of Tendenci Software/Flickr.

The acquisition of GitHub by Microsoft shows that not only small and medium-sized companies value open source, but also large corporations discover that software development, as a research activity, demands Open Access for the solutions of its problems.

A Blog Article by Pablo Markin.

While it is the stock-based 7.5 billion USD price tag that Microsoft had put on GitHub and the immediate rise of rival software development platforms, such as GitLab, which elicited international media attention, this transaction also attests to the business cachet of the Open Access sector as apparently no longer a niche phenomenon. Whereas in the domain of science, it may not necessarily be easy to point to concrete examples of the contribution that Open Access makes to collaboration beyond the unrestricted accessibility of documents, articles and books, GitHub, an extensive Open Access repository for open source software, stands for collaboration between over 28 million software developers from around the world.

For Microsoft the tipping point in terms of its recognition of the disruptive business potential of Open Access was reportedly reached after its organization members have made over 2 million unique contributions of open source code to the GitHub repository. This also apparently explains the intention of this global corporation to maintain this platform as an Open Access one, precisely because it serves the needs of the corresponding community in ways that closed-access platforms cannot. Similar to publishers that build their Open Access-based business models on additional services or offerings, such as review, indexing and editing services that article processing charges cover, businesses big and small have been deploying unpaid open source software, to offer product-related consulting, conduct instructional sessions or run crown-funding campaigns.

As does Open Access, open source has little or no adoption barriers, which enables organizations to build quickly their user, and consequently client, base. Whereas in the business sector proprietary software can be perceived as a counterpart of toll-based content in the sphere of publishing, it seems that the benefits of Open Access are highly evident for software developers, due to the nature of their professional activity involving a significant need for collaboration and sharing on the basis of either Open Access or freemium models when extra or advanced services are provided in exchange for subscriptions. As academic journals are increasingly flipped into Open Access internationally, such as in the Philippines, which adds to the market momentum of Open Access, the sector of open source software has also been undergoing explosive growth in recent years.

Especially since international publishing houses, such as Elsevier, not infrequently engage not only in book or journal publishing but also in the provision of software-based analytics solutions for academic and governmental institutions, open source software can be expected to be enjoying increasing adoption by publishers and their clients, due to the price-competitiveness of free software.

As proprietary information management tools more often than not require subscriptions, open source platforms are also likely to promote Open Science, due to their shared basis in the principles of Open Access.

By Pablo Markin

Featured Image Credits: Silicon Vikings, San Francisco, CA, USA, October 29, 2013 | © Courtesy of Tendenci Software/Flickr.

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