16th International Open Access Week will be held October 23-29, 2023. The week's theme is “Community over commercialisation.”
This year’s theme encourages a candid conversation about which approaches to open scholarship prioritize the best interests of the public and the academic community—and which do not. More about the theme.
Participating in Open Access Week is a joint collaboration between the university libraries in Iceland as part of an international awakening on financing and publishing research.
Jack E. James, a professor at the Department of Psychology, has researched open access for the past years, but because of publishers' demands, his research is often locked behind a paywall. The research did nonetheless take place within the academic community that funded it via the state budget –to create better and more sustainable knowledge for our communities as a whole. The state of academic publishing has caused a lot of people a lot of worry within the academic community, but in general, the current state is considered unfair, to say the least.
But some people go further than worry. They take action and demonstrate the unfairness as an act of civil disobedience. Alexandra Elbakyan is one such person who runs one of if not the most popular database online, Sci-Hub, and constitutes a good part of James‘ research article, where he also considers the ethical dilemma of the one deciding to use Sci-Hub in your research when open access is hard to come by but Sci-Hub‘s impact on the open access movement is more or less unaccounted for in research on research:
Assuming, then, that the centuries-old ideal of maximizing access to scientific knowledge is in the public interest, the principle of fairness provides justification for consumers of scientific knowledge to consider the current state of academic publishing and to take stock of implied moral imperatives. Only then is each individual ethically equipped to decide what action, if any, is required to challenge current barriers to access. Some, even while believing that copyright transfer and access paywalls are unethical, may conclude that use of pirate OA, with its attendant contestable legality and morality, is not justified. Others, however, may take the opposite view, concluding that use of pirate OA is not merely justifiable as a form of civil disobedience but a moral imperative. In that instance, the act of civil disobedience is not aimed at breaching cyber security law or copyright law per se. Rather, electronic civil disobedience in that instance is an act of protest against perceived unfairness in current publishing arrangements that permit (indeed, encourage) transfer of copyright of public scientific knowledge to be monetized for profit.
James, J. E. (2020). Pirate open access as electronic civil disobedience: Is it ethical to breach the paywalls of monetized academic publishing? Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology, 1-5. https://doi.org/10.1002/asi.24351