The downturn in the economy has affected everyone, including universities and especially students and professors who are trying to complete scholarly investigations and reports. SU subscribes to various scholarly journals, which helps reduce the cost of these scholarly materials, but these materials are not always available online, and sometimes getting a hold of them can turn into a hassle. If anyone has ever participated in the Inter-Library Loan Program, then they know that there are certain restrictions as to what materials they may borrow, when they can borrow them and for how long they can borrow those materials.
Fortunately, some of the nation’s most prestigious universities have decided to share their scholarly investigations and findings with the rest of the world – for free. Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, MIT and U.C. Berkeley have made the Five-Member Compact, which aims to reduce the popularity of process fees that make scholarly publications less affordable. This in turn, is meant to increase equality in the educational materials provided by different universities. Scholars and students will be less limited in the amount and the quality of the resources they are able to use. On an everyday basis, this means that students have more resources to do their research, and they do not have to freak out when they are off campus and do not have access to SU’s database. It also means that students might not have to wait for materials as long as they otherwise would have to when conducting their research.
Senior Erin Fonseca thinks that this development will help improve the research process, making it quicker and more efficient. “I think it’s an excellent idea because sometimes students face difficulties when conducting their research. Sometimes students may find something they find very useful to their studies, but they then have to go through ILL, or they simply do not have access to it, and that just makes the process much more difficult.”
The current members of the Compact are inviting other universities to participate in this new program. This does not mean that scholars and universities must stop providing articles to scholarly journals. Instead, the universities are encouraged to simply make these articles available to everyone, not only the individuals or institutions subscribed to those journals. The universities who signed this Compact were inspired by “Equity for Open-Access Journal Publishing”, an article by Stuart M. Shieber, which called for more widespread availability of scholarly works. According to him, scholars who write articles prefer that many individuals read their articles rather than just a few. He argues that scholars should strive to reduce barriers to other scholars, and that the business of Journals should be improved, because it has too many flaws. He believes that having open-access scholarly works will promote educational equality and improve the scholarly journal business.
Senior Ashley Barnard points out the advantage that this Compact brings to S.U. students. She says, “I think it is really great that information from big universities is becoming more accessible for students around the country. I feel like bigger schools have a lot of resources that smaller schools don’t and this makes education and knowledge much more equal.”