Kalen Lumsden is a JD candidate at Osgoode Hall Law School.
The University of Kansas, one of the first universities with a formal open access policy, along with 21 other universities, have joined together to form the Coalition of Open Access Policy Institutions (COAPI). Their mandate will be to craft policies to implement open access and advocate for it on a national level.
In 2009 the University of Kansas established their open access policy, which “asserts the rights of KU faculty to provide broad, free access to their journal publications to colleagues around the world.”
COAPI represents a collective commitment to implement an open access policy in practical, tangible ways. With a membership that includes Harvard, Columbia, MIT and Stanford this coalition may have the institutional weight behind it to effect actual change.
They plan to meet in November at the Berlin 9 Open Access Conference in Washington, DC to discuss where their focus should be and where to begin.
One positive aspect of open access policies is the potential for cost savings. Presently, in Canada, many universities, including York, are opting out of their blanket tariff with Access Copyright — the copyright collective that manages permissions associated with photocopying and course-packs — in favour of open access, creative commons licensing, individual licences and fair use exemptions, partially in an attempt to save money (previously discussed by IP Osgoode here). Coalitions like COAPI will help make open access a viable alternative.
Considered from one perspective, academic publishing is a bit of a racket: the writers and researchers are not compensated by the journals for their work, and yet the cost to access the journals is often quite high. Through controlling the means of distribution of a specialized type of knowledge, publishers profit. This is not to say that they do not provide an essential service through their curatorial and editorial contributions. However, as the purpose of academic journalism is usually to foster a dialogue and the value of a journal comes from being peer-reviewed, a policy that furthers the discussion is in the best interests of academia.
Research and the communication of new ideas occurs on a global scale and while COAPI is composed of only American universities, the benefits of sharing knowledge will cross borders. From universities, whose raison d’être is the promulgation of knowledge, open access policies make intuitive sense. Considering the changes in the upcoming year in how Canadian universities are managing their copy permissions as research adapts to the internet, the nascent development of COAPI can only be of assistance in smoothing out some of our growing pains. Maybe, if COAPI is looking to broaden their membership, they could look north.