The move toward “open access” to research and scholarship, far from being a modern digital-age creation, has roots in the West that date back to medieval times, writes a Stanford education scholar. John Willinsky’s new book explains how learning has long benefited from efforts to increase its circulation.
Willinsky, reflecting on the state of intellectual property law today, said he believes learning has lost its earlier prominence and some part of its protection. “Learning, which has historically done much to shape our ideas of intellectual property, is now unduly restricted in its circulation through the use of a law it helped formulate,” Willinsky said.
Willinsky, the Khosla Family Professor of Education at Stanford, promotes open-access scholarly publishing and studies its effect on teaching and learning. He directs the Public Knowledge Project, which for 20 years has produced the leading open-source scholarly publishing platform used by open-access journals and presses around the world.
“The book goes after the history behind this idea that research should be open,” said Willinsky. His work was funded by a Stanford Humanities Center Whittier Fellowship in 2013–14.
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