How a Browser Extension Could Shake Up Academic Publishing

Open-access advocates have had several successes in the past few weeks. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation started its own open-access publishing platform, which the European Commission may replicate. And librarians attending the Association of College and Research Libraries conference in March were glad to hear that the Open Access Button, a tool that helps researchers gain free access to copies of articles, will be integrated into existing interlibrary-loan arrangements.

Another initiative, called Unpaywall, is a simple browser extension, but its creators, Jason Priem and Heather Piwowar, say it could help alter the status quo of scholarly publishing….

Martin P. Eve, a professor of literature, technology, and publishing at Birkbeck College, University of London, said in an email that while Unpaywall is “impressive,” its power to change publishers’ business practices might be limited. “Unpaywall is dependent upon the uptake of green OA,” he said. “That is, it is only ever effective if an academic has deposited a copy of a paper in a repository. At present, there is no evidence that green OA leads to subscription cancellations.”

 

Read full story by Lindsay McKenzie in The Chronicle of Higher Education

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