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[2] In The Access Principle, John Willinsky identifies not two but ten “flavors” of open access, six of which comply with the Bethesda Definition. John Willinsky, “Ten Flavors of Open Access”, The Access Principle: The Case for Open Access to Research and Scholarship (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2006), 211-6.

[3] On the cost of textbooks and supplies for college students in the U.S.:

According to data from [the U.S. Department of] Education’s Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, first-time, full-time students attending 4-year private, nonprofit colleges were estimated to spend $850 for books and supplies in their first year, or 8 percent of the cost of tuition and fees during academic year 2003-2004 … In contrast, first-time, full-time students paying in-state tuition at 4-year public colleges or universities were estimated to spend 26 percent of the cost of tuition and fees on books and supplies, or $898, during the same period. At 2-year public colleges, where low-income students are more likely to begin their studies and tuition and fees are lower, first-time, full-time students are estimated to spend 72 percent of the cost of tuition and fees on books and supplies. Specifically, 2-year public colleges estimated that their first-time, full-time students would spend about $886 in 2003-2004 on books and supplies.

source: U.S. Government Accountability Office, College Textbooks: Enhanced Offerings Appear to Drive Recent Price Increases (Washington, DC: Government Accountability Office, 2005).

For anecdotal evidence on the cost of coursepacks specifically, see:

Attack of the Wallet Killers ”, editorial, The Harvard Crimson (18 February 2005).

Personal observation: When I was a student (not long ago), I had classes where the coursepack cost more than the textbook!

[4] Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, “Book and Journal Costs, 1986-2002″, Create Change (Washington, DC: Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, 2003), 3.

[5] See e.g. Willinsky, “Development”, The Access Principle , 93-110.

[6] Disclosure: For these reasons, I am involved in an effort to write a guideline for Wikipedia on the subject.


1. steelgraham - september 5th, 2007 at 1:25 pm

Dear Gavin Baker,

Many thanks for preparing, writing and sharing this most splendid blog.

I for one hope this gets the readership that it deserves.

Kind regards,

Graham Steel

2. ken udas - september 6th, 2007 at 7:39 am

First, I would like to thank Gavin for this great post. It really provides a nice foundation for discussion. In addition to providing some great background, it also provides the following 4 reasons why advocates of OERs should support OA journal literature:

    Quoted text

  1. As direct learning content in tertiary education
  2. As “outside-the-classroom” learning content
  3. As learning content for self-learners
  4. As “raw materials” for re-use in free learning content

Refocusing from the learner to the academy, I would assume that an organizational argument for publication in OA journals is that it facilitates part of the information and knowledge dissemination mission that strikes at the core purpose of many universities. Through reducing access barriers (not necessary peer review and quality assurance), would act as a catalyst for contributing to the development of disciplinary and interdisciplinary knowledge.

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