Open Source? Why does it matter?

I was alerted to a news about German Universities getting together and negotiating a national license with Elsevier.  This would be a fundamental game changer for Europe as well as rest of the world- for its huge implications.  My thoughts on this a little while later but consider this:

The institutions had formed a consortium to negotiate a nationwide licence with the publisher. They sought a collective deal that would give most scientists in Germany full online access to about 2,500 journals at about half the price that individual libraries have paid in the past.

Here’s what someone else has to say about this development:

Most papers are now freely available somewhere on the Internet, or else you might choose to work with preprint versions,” he says. “Clearly our negotiating position is strong. It is not clear that we want or need a paid extension of the old contracts.”

I am personally not getting in the politics of “open source”- its too contentious with proponents on both sides of the divide. Considering the fact that much of heavy lifting (peer review) is done free of cost; subtracting the administrative costs, publishing houses are left with profits. For someone who’s starting out, getting published in a marquee journal becomes almost “imperative”. Notwithstanding the “anonymous comments” that can be downright nasty!

The final word hasn’t been said as yet but lets wait for the outcomes. I hope they implement such a model in India as well- using a uniform log-in system to provide access. Its asinine to cough up over USD $30+ per article! Luckily, my institution does provide an access to Clinical Key but not all journals are available.

Is mandatory country repository a way out? No idea but its a logical extension that if public funding has been made available to researchers, the benefits should flow to public.

I am watching this space.

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