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Colin, open access primarily refers to academic papers, but there is also talk about applying the concept to other things like textbooks. Other terms, like open educational resources, are also applied to textbooks, but in any case, the proposal is to remove cost as a barrier to accessing the publication. This conversation started with academic papers because they have always been given away by the authors not receiving pay from the publishers to whom they freely gifted their writing to be sold commercially. Textbooks, in contrast, have not traditionally been written for free.
Open access is not just for primary research papers, and since I know you are interested in medicine, perhaps you should be aware of the NIH Public Access Policy which says that persons who receive US Federal Government Funding to do research must apply open access licensing to their research papers. This policy is making a range of papers open.
You asked about the incentive to write a textbook if it is to be given away. Open access advocates want to encourage a marketplace which produces and develops only textbooks better than exist now, and of course people must be paid to do this. The issue to be discussed is whether commercial marketing of textbooks is the best way to fund their production, or whether there might be an alternative funding model to grant access to the books without cost and still get the authors paid somehow. There are lots of proposals. In the case of the NIH policy, the argument is that if taxpayers in America fund research then commercial entities ought not receive this for free and then sell it to taxpayer-funded libraries and especially not if they have a high profit margin and there are other ways to manage this. Blue Rasberry (talk) 23:12, 20 January 2014 (UTC)[reply]
I can see the goverment funded research -> publish open model can work. But the book I linked isn't research and although you say people are looking at alternative models, it doesn't sound like anyone has found one yet. In these days of "austerity measures" I'm not optimistic government will step in to pay for the publication of dense academic material a small number of people might want to read, as opposed to publishers getting paid when people actually buy a book. It would probably be more cost-effective to pay for a few productive Wikipedians to read that material and make it accessible to a wider audience. I'm all for imaginative new ideas for publishing material and for lowering costs esp once we don't need physical printing. But we also need to ensure the traditional "editorial standards" are kept and that it doesn't become the academic equivalent of vanity publishing or blogs where anyone can publish any nonsense. Btw, although the researcher wasn't traditionally paid for their paper, publication of the research is the lifeblood of any researcher, so their career depends on it. One could say they are "paid" ever time someone cites their paper. -- Colin°Talk 08:51, 21 January 2014 (UTC)[reply]
Thanks Colin. I agree that maintaining or raising editorial standards is a prime concern. Perhaps we can talk more sometime. Blue Rasberry (talk) 16:34, 21 January 2014 (UTC)[reply]
On that I disagree. Kinda. I think. It depends on what you mean by policy. Open-access sources should be encouraged for reasons of verifiability--which is a reason "other than the quality and reliability". Sources that one "can't instantly access" negatively affects verifiability, and as such, negatively affects the quality of Wikipedia. Otherwise, I think we're going to have to come to some common understanding on how many thousands of dollars readers/editors should have to spend, and/or how many thousands of miles they should have to travel, to give effect to WP:VERIFY. Keeping in mind readers/editors could be anywhere on Earth--and beyond. Int21h (talk) 03:32, 22 January 2014 (UTC)[reply]
On sources that are completely equal wrt reliability and bias then freely-accessible is a bonus point that should be encouraged. But typically they are not. Encouraging freely accessible sources can actually introduce bias -- for example, when some newspapers are freely accessible but others aren't. Many of our high-quality articles on "serious" topics are sourced to books, and I wouldn't want people complaining they fail WP:V because they should use BBC Online instead. I should note that some readers have better libraries than others (my local library is useless) and not everyone is a student or academic with access to university libraries. So sourcing to pay-for media is a significant barrier for many editors. -- Colin°Talk 09:42, 22 January 2014 (UTC)[reply]
Verification should never require travel or the expenditure of significant sums of money. In the vast majority of cases, all that is required is getting a library card, or filling out an interlibrary loan request, or making a post on Wikipedia:WikiProject Resource Exchange/Resource Request. We should encourage editors to take those steps instead of worrying about hypotheticals. Any verification that requires significant travel or spending is likely a matter for professional scientists and historians and not amateur encyclopedia authors. Gamaliel (talk) 18:48, 22 January 2014 (UTC)[reply]
Let me guess... you're American. In the UK, I can pay anywhere from £4.50 to £15 to borrow a book through interlibrary loan and wait 6-8 weeks for it to arrive and then be asked to return it soon after. And if the item isn't available (perhaps a reference work not for loan) then I can still be charged for the search. Nobody is going to go through such a process unless they are serious about editing the article, not just verifying one fact. I'm afraid your views on verification not requiring significant travel, time or expenditure are not held by any policy and neither should they. -- Colin°Talk 20:21, 22 January 2014 (UTC)[reply]
Okay, I deserved that. I really should know better, being a librarian and having recently read a novel in which the main character is a frequent user of interlibrary loan in the UK. But there are other avenues to pursue for verification. And not every editor is going to be able to verify every citation, and there's nothing wrong with that. The alternative is much more unpleasant, that, as you said, we substitute BBC Online for books as sources. No one would take Wikipedia seriously at that point. Gamaliel (talk) 22:19, 22 January 2014 (UTC)[reply]

I'm a bit late to the party, but the claim "Not only this, none of the academic journals most cited on the English Wikipedia are open access (PLOS ONE breaks the drought at No. 22 on that list)." is misleading at best. Going back to the 15 January 2014 version of the compilation [1], we see that the Journal of Biological Chemistry is at the top of the list, and is a delayed open access journal (12 months embargo). Likewise for #3 PNAS (6 months embargo), #4 Genome Research (6 months embargo), #6 Cell (12 months embargo). Headbomb {talk / contribs / physics / books} 19:09, 11 February 2016 (UTC)[reply]


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