March 05, 2008

Desired Ethics and Norms for Internet Scholarship

Manan Ahmed had commented on the resolve of Danah Boyd as follows:
Danah Boyd wrote her resolve to publish only in open access journals. I couldn't agree more - being an ardent supporter of scholarship that is freely accessible. One of my biggest complaint about our academic world is about the inaccessibility of research to anyone without institutional affiliation or a hefty bank account. The impact of which is that, academic work in the humanities remains largely confined to a handful of readers and commentators.

Continuing with the ethics desired from the internet scholars, rather scholars as such, Ahmad had taken two case studies of Harvard University Resolve and the mission and motive of JSTOR. He mentioned about the help he had rendered to his friends in Delhi and Karachi. He had done so because he knew that there in Delhi (or may in Karachi also, apologies as I am from India) it was not all that smooth to get “institutional affiliation or a hefty bank account.”

He had pointed that “the Sciences were so far ahead of the Humanities on the Open Access issue.”

He also observed that “JSTOR results were already included in Google searches (through but, often, also in normal search).”

All his observations are sounding music to my ears.

The open Access issue had attracted my attention when Google launched Google Print (Now Book Google.) The Google was threatened with legal warnings.

The Google Book is online now. There are many books which are available online. I have collecting such links wherein one can find the whole book or an article online.

Now wonder that whether I have stopped buying the books and journals. The answer is big “NO”. It is rather that I have bought more books, journals and magazines (I have other interests also and most of new subscriptions are related to other fields) after taking to blogging where I usually collect links to complete books. The only change in my reading activity that had occurred is that I have reduced my visits to the libraries. There is so much on the internet now that one can develop his arguments and material provided he has the right knack for mining the internet. The reduced visits to Libraries is also a different issue as such. It is not that the need of Library has been reduced. It is a different story that why I do not visit library now. However, the actual activity in pursuing your sources for developing an argument in order to write an article or notes for your professional use has remained the same. The availability of appropriate material through internet is an added facility. The actual activity of reading, collection, classification, deriving inferences, and then writing has remained the same. Getting a PDF of a good article does not reduce your activity for pursuing the knowledge. No, not at all. You have to undergo the same process in order to learn and then disseminate. I believe that Open Access just make you more effective by reducing the time to acquire the required material. It also reduce the cost. The main beneficiary is the society for which all such resources were generated through huge grants on which the copy right claims have been acquired by the practitioner. As one of my friend jokingly commented on a work of a scholar when he published the letters of Lala Lajpat Rai as his research work that the letters belonged to Lala Lajpat Rai and now copyright would be enjoyed by the bugger whereas the funds came from the taxpayers money. Joke apart, the Open Access is something which appeals and demands for new norms in the field of learning, education and research with the advent of new technologies which facilitate the communication among the scholars.

Sources Used:
Cliopatria: A Group Blog on History New Network

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