Budapest’s Changing Scholarly Landscape

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We’re kinda interested in Open Access here at SSRN, so I was especially thrilled to receive Diane Geraci’s invitation to speak on the topic recently at the School of Public Policy at Central European University (CEU). Open Access in Budapest?! Spectacular!

It was more than a decade ago that Budapest played a critical role in the Open Access movement… back then there was this creative (crazy?) idea that the public could/should be provided free access to scholarly research. “Open Access” or OA was originally coined at the Open Society meeting back in 2002. The Budapest Open Access Initiative (BOAI) challenged tradition with the concept that the public good we call research should be open to anyone. We’ve made a lot of progress since then but we continue to struggle with inconsistent and inconsistently applied policies across the landscape.
OA is at the forefront of so many discussions about communications in regard to the digital scholarly landscape, but has enough occurred since 2001 in this regard? Are there still too many restrictions and not enough evolving taking place?

My talk, Scholarship without Borders: Open Access and its Impact on the Changing Scholarly Landscape, discussed OA’s impact on the dissemination of knowledge around the world and how it accelerates innovation, impacts policy, and changes the very nature of the scholarly publishing ecosystem. I also looked to the future of scholarship in the social sciences and how the expanding breadth of content created a need for alternative metrics of scholarly impact to help us filter through the tsunami and sustainable open access services to support the growing communities.

I learned a lot about cultural differences towards OA. In the US and many other parts of the world, scholars put their working paper on SSRN as soon as they are ready to share it. Often they ask for feedback so that they can improve the paper before submitting to a journal. At CEU and many other Central and Eastern European schools, they ask the publisher for permission to post their paper on SSRN – and the answer is usually no. I don’t think that all of the journals are against SSRN but I do wonder if they see the benefits of working together like the thousands that already do. If they understand how SSRN expands readership for their journals’ papers by including them in subject areas beyond their core audience – exposing the research to readers in other disciplines so that they can create new, innovative research faster.

I travel a lot helping people understand the benefits of sharing research – a carrot – for both them and others. But I also understand incentives and it will be interesting to see Horizon 2020’s impact on sharing given the requirement for beneficiaries to ensure open access for funded research. Maybe we finally have the stick that BOAI really needs …