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A critical theory of open access: Libraries and electronic publishing

. First Monday (October 2007)

Abstract

The stranglehold that commercial publishers have over scholarly publishing and the high prices of their journals have led to the so–called “scholarly publication crisis.” Academic librarians and concerned scholars have had to advocate for alternative models of scholarly publishing that challenge the commercial publishers’ control, and the open access movement has taken hold. This article introduces the framework of critical theory into the discourse of open access. Critical theory contextualizes the scholarly publication crisis within the dominant information society framework of increasing commodification of information and enhanced global capitalism. While providing tools for analysis and enhanced advocacy, the critical theory framework links libraries with other advocacy movements related to freedom of access to information and opens up new democratic possibilities for engagement. In particular, electronic publishing is an area in which libraries have the potential to effect changes in a commercially dominated market, thereby contributing to greater equity of information access.

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