Activists pushing for free, open access to academic papers will eventually defeat publishers who seek to lock scholarly findings behind paywalls, the founder of the world wide web said today.
Sir Tim Berners-Lee, who revolutionised the way we access information on the internet through the creation of the world wide web over 20 years ago, has been a vocal proponent for making data freely available while also protecting people’s privacy.
Higher education institutions and individuals pay millions every year to academic journals to subscribe to academic journals but open access activists, including the recently deceased Aaron Swartz, have been pushing for free access to scholarly findings.
“I think that the open access activists will win out,” said Sir Tim, speaking at the launch of the $40 million CSIRO’s Digital Productivity and Services Flagship on Tuesday.
“A lot of publishers realise that’s the way that is going. The unfortunate death of Aaron Swartz brought… that whole battle to many people’s attention,” he said, adding that an open access model gives the most benefit to the most people.
“There is a fairness argument, for people in Africa, people who are not at large universities, there are people who just don’t have access to the papers,” he said, adding that access to the data that informs academic papers is also important.
“A lot of the data is publicly funded already so it should be available and a lot of the publishers are moving to open access models.”