Friday, February 12, 2010

The scholar's copy

There has been much useful discussion on this list about scholars
as authors, and rightly so. Today, I would like to introduce a
view of what we scholars need nowadays as readers.

Increasingly, my reading is onscreen. The copy of an article or
book that works best for me is the one that I can download to my
desktop, and mark up as I please with highlighting and
commentary. I want to be able to re-copy to multiple folders if
this suits how I work. If I am using the same article for two
different projects, for example, I may want two copies with
different highlighting reflecting the most salient points to each
particular project. This ideal is a copy that I can search,
along with everything else on my computer, either for keywords or
key phrases in the text, or for my own notes. I can share a copy
freely with colleagues or students, with or without my notes,
either privately, or openly, on the web. I may want to create a
new version before sending, with customized notes to fit the
needs of my fellow researcher or student.

My access to my ideal scholar's copy is not dependent on whether
or not my library can afford a subscription, or whether I
continue at the institution with the subscription. If I submit
an article for publication, I can keep copies of the works that I

This is true of journal articles, reports of all kinds, and
e-books, too.

This is one of the reasons why we need libre open access. So
far, only a small percentage of OA is clearly libre OA.
However, once scholars like me begin to experience the
difference, my prediction is that demand for libre OA will grow,
while demand for digital rights management (DRM)-ridden works
will decrease.

It would be most useful if search services would permit limiting
to libre OA (e.g. CC-licensed works).

Heather Morrison, MLIS
PhD Student
Simon Fraser University School of Communication
hgmorris at sfu dot ca

This message was first posted to the Liblicense discussion list.