From an op-ed by Stanford professors John Willinsky and Deborah Stipek in today’s San Jose Mercury News, “Open access responds to public’s hunger for knowledge.”
In February, Harvard University Faculty of Arts and Sciences voted to create “open access” copies of all their scholarly articles. In May, Harvard Law School followed suit. Then in June, Stanford University School of Education faculty unanimously voted for a similar motion.
By endorsing this open-access policy, my Stanford colleagues have agreed that publishing an article in a respectable journal is no longer the end of it. They will also post a copy of their work online, where educators and the public can freely read what we have learned about learning. . . .
It also makes sense, in light of the recent public scrutiny over whether tax-exempt private universities like Harvard and Stanford do enough to further the public good. . . .
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Are there risks with such access? Will policy blogs and school board meetings distort and misunderstand academic research and scholarship? Inevitably. But that has long been a danger, and at least now, everyone will have access to a range of relevant studies. As scholarly work becomes more public, it will be interesting to watch how researchers anticipate and try to address possible misinterpretations, hopefully without diluting the complexity, quality or rigor that distinguishes this form of knowledge.
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