Open access: key strategic, technical and economic aspects

Open access: key strategic, technical and economic aspects 

Neil Jacobs (ed) 

Oxford, UK: Chandos Publishing | 2006 | 264pp | ? 39.95 (SB) | ISBN 1843342030 

Reviewed by Jeremy Frey

This is a very timely book providing an overview of the key aspects of one of the liveliest current debates in scholarly and academic publishing. What holds sway will certainly change in the future, but what that future will be and how much of a revolution the world wide web, let alone Web 2.0, will cause is unclear, with many established interests competing with new forces. 

The discussion opens with a forward from Ian Gibson MP giving a succinct view of a parliamentary and ethical perspective. As part of the scene of the Open Access (OA) debate, we are introduced to two of the main themes - OA helps researchers by increasing exposure, and there is an economic advantage for the academic sector. That others in the global market have differing views is touched upon later. 

The researchers’ perspective is well covered by some of the highest profile figures. As an academic I was interested in the views of the wider participants; the book would have benefited from more contributions in this area. I would have liked more discussion of access to the underlying data upon which the scholarly articles are based in the discussion on how the scholarly dissemination chain could be re-engineered. 

The book is well produced, and includes a useful index and a comprehensive list of web-based items. The styles inevitably differ from chapter to chapter but the editor has done a good job in bringing the work together and it reads in a uniform manner. For anyone who has heard of the OA debate and would like to become more informed then this is essential reading. It will not answer all the questions or even cover all the current ideas, but it does provide a useful view on the subject from people involved.