Educational Technology

September 17, 2011

Research Archive Widens Its Public Access—a Bit

Filed under: Educational Technology — admin @ 12:35 am

by Brian Bergstein Technology Review

JStor, an organization that maintains a database of academic journal articles, is making about 6 percent of its content available to the public for free—articles that were published prior to 1923 in the United States or before 1870 in other countries. It’s a small step, but it’s an important one, because it is a recognition by JStor that it should make its stockpile of academic knowledge more broadly accessible. That issue has become contentious in recent years, especially with the arrest this summer of Aaron Swartz, a 24-year-old Internet activist who is charged with sneaking into MIT to download 4.8 million articles from JStor’s archive. He and other advocates of “open access” have complained that many articles in research journals are accessible only with expensive subscriptions, limiting their audience to elite readers even though the Internet should be facilitating a flourishing of access to information. Harvard scholar Lawrence Lessig blames, among other things, outdated interpretations of copyright law; Swartz has cited greed among publishers of journal articles.

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