Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Academic Publishing and Open Access

Müller-Langer, Frank and Scheufen, Marc (2012): Academic Publishing and Open Access. Published in: Handke, Christian and Ruth Towse (eds.), Handbook of the Digital Creative Economy, Edward Elgar , Vol. 2013, (2013): pp. 365-377.

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With the spread of the internet and new opportunities for publishing academic works digitally at virtually no costs, the traditional copyright model has recently been put under critical review which is for at least two reasons: First and foremost, a vast increase in subscription prices for academic journals has forced (university) libraries to significantly cut their journal portfolios. Second, copyright seems negligible in academia as researchers are motivated by reputation gains and CV effects rather than direct financial returns from publishing their works. As a consequence, the promotion of Open Access (OA) to scientific research is claimed as the perceived future of academic publishing in the information age.

This paper critically reviews the OA debate by discussing theoretical and empirical arguments on the role of copyright in publishing scientific outcomes. A brief historical perspective introduces to the changed environmental conditions for scholarly publishing, pointing to a new trade-off in the digital age. By framing the debate in a broader literature stream and related issues, we provide with caveat for further research and a glimpse of possible future scenarios. It is shown that copyright may be both a blessing and a curse in establishing an effective framework for scientific progress.

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