Letter to the Editor of The Australian

Dear Editor,

In making her case for federal government support for the Australian publishing industry Louise Adler (Weekend Australian 14-15 September) has made certain remarks about open access electronic and library based scholarly publishing that require a response.

It is misleading to suggest that ‘In the tertiary education sector open access represents a fundamental threat to the rights of intellectual property owners’. The movement to open access in scholarly publishing is driven by authors and scholars who have traditionally given up their copyright in a work as a precondition of being published, only to have the work sold back to their institutions. Open access seeks to enhance the rights of intellectual property creators and funders, to widen the audience of their work. The existence of open access publishers in no way coerces authors into publishing with them or into not publishing with a commercial publisher. There is also no evidence that open-access publishing is incompatible with commercial publishing, and growing evidence that they can easily coexist.

The statement that ‘some university libraries have established in-house e-publishing initiatives for academics who fail to garner the interest of commercial publishers in highly specialised research for a limited audience’, implies that these presses produce only work that no one could want. In Australia library-based presses publish high-quality peer-reviewed scholarship, invariably in both print and electronic formats, relatively quickly, and open access where possible, appealing to authors precisely because this enables the maximum visibility of and reach for their research.

We agree that Australian university presses have an important role of providing access to scholarly works for non-academic readers. The development of new open access university presses is critical for the community to benefit from Australian research.

Sincerely,

Mal Booth, UTS University Librarian, for UTS ePress
Ross Coleman, Director, Collection and Digital and eScholarship Services
Dr John Emerson, Director, University of Adelaide Press
Dr Nathan Hollier, Director, Monash University Publishing
Roxanne Missingham, University Librarian (Chief Scholarly Information Services), for ANU E Press
Derek Whitehead, Director, Information Resources and University Copyright Officer, Swinburne University, for University Press of Australia

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