Democratic School: Making Research Products Available
The democratic school is concerned with the concept of access to knowledge. Unlike the public school, which promotes accessibility in terms of participation to research and its comprehensibility, advocates of the democratic school focus on the principal access to the products of research. This mostly relates to research publications and scientific data, but also to source materials, digital representations of pictorial and graphical materials, or multimedia material (as Sitek and Bertelmann describe it their chapter).
Put simply, they argue that any research product should be freely available. The reason we refer to the discourse about free access to research products as the democratic school issues from its inherent rationale that everyone should have the equal right to access knowledge, especially when it is state-funded.
In the following, we will focus on two central streams of the democratic school, namely Open Access to research publications and Open Data. We assume that both represent a wider set of arguments that accompanies discussion on free access to research products.
Regarding Open Data in science, Murray-Rust (2008, p. 52) relates the meaning of the prefix 'open' to the common definition of open source software. In that understanding, the right of usage of scientific data does not demise to an academic journal but remains in the scientific community: ''I felt strongly that data of this sort should by right belong to the community and not to the publisher and started to draw attention to the problem'' (ibid., p. 54). According to Murray-Rust, it is obstructive that journals claim copyright for supporting information (often data) of an article and thereby prevent the potential reuse of the data. He argues that ''(it) is important to realize that SI is almost always completely produced by the original authors and, in many cases, is a direct output from a computer. The reviewers may use the data for assessing the validity of the science in the publication but I know of no cases where an editor has required the editing of (supporting information)'' (ibid., p. 53). The author endorses that text, data or meta-data can be re-used for whatever purpose without further explicit permission from a journal (see Table 3). He assumes that, other than validating research, journals have no use for claiming possession over supporting information—other researchers, however, do.
According to Murray-Rust's understanding, data should not be 'free' (as in free beer), but open for re-use in studies foreseen or unforeseen by the original creator. The rationale behind Open Data in science is in this case researcher-centric; it is a conjuncture that fosters meaningful data mining and aggregation of data from multiple papers. Put more simply, Open Data allows research synergies and prevents duplication in the collection of data. In this regard, Murray-Rust does not only criticize the current journal system and the withholding of supporting information but also intimates at the productive potential of Open Data. It has to be said, though, that the synergy potentials that Murray-Rust describes mostly apply to natural sciences (or at least research fields in which data is more or less standardized) or at least fields in which an intermediate research product (e.g. data) can be of productive use for others.
Similar to Murray-Rust, Molloy (2011) criticises the current journal system which, according to the author, works against the maximum dissemination of scientific data that underlies publications. She elaborates on the barriers inherent in the current journal system thus: ''Barriers include inability to access data, restrictions on usage applied by publishers or data providers, and publication of data that is difficult to reuse, for example, because it is poorly annotated or 'hidden' in unmodifiable tables like PDF documents'' (ibid., p. 1). She suggests a dealing with data that follows the Open Knowledge Foundation's definition of openness, meaning that the data in question should be available as a whole, at no more than a reasonable reproduction cost (preferably through download), and in a convenient and modifiable form.
Other than Murray-Rust (2008) and Molloy (2011), Vision (2010), and Boulton et al. (2011) firstly hold the researchers liable for practicing Open Data. Vision refers to a study by Campbell et al. (2002), in which it is shown that only one
Table 3 Democratic School—Open data
quarter of scientists share their research data—even upon request. According to the study, the most common reason for denying requests was the amount of effort required for compliance. Vision presents disciplinary data repositories that are maintained by the data creators themselves as an appropriate solution to the problem. This way, scientists would only need to upload their data once instead of complying with requests. Although Vision emphasizes the necessity to minimize the submission burden for the author, he does not suggest concrete inducements for scientists to upload their data (for instance forms of community recognition or other material rewards). In an empirical study about the sharing behavior among scientists, Haeussler found out that the sharing of data is indeed closely related to a form of counter-value (Haeussler 2011, p. 8).
Who is to blame for the fact that Open Data has not yet achieved its breakthrough despite its potential? Is it the journal system and its supporting information practice? Researchers and their reluctance to share? Missing incentive systems? Or overcomplicated data repositories? The apparent divergence regarding the impediments of Open Data demonstrates the need for further empirical research on this issue. Future studies could address the reluctance of researchers to practice Open Data, the role of journals and supporting material, or the design of an appropriate online data repository or meta-data structures for research data. The implied multitude of obstacles for practicing Open Data also illustrates that research on this issue needs to be holistic.
Open Access to Research Publication
When it comes the Open Access of research publications, the argument is often less researcher-centric. Cribb and Sari (2010) make the case for the Open Access to scientific knowledge as a human right (see Table 4). According to them, there is a gap between the creation and the sharing of knowledge: While scientific knowledge doubles every 5 years, the access to this knowledge remains limited—
leaving parts of the world in the dark: ''As humanity progresses through the 21st century (…) many scholars point to the emergence of a disturbing trend: the world is dividing into those with ready access to knowledge and its fruit, and those
without.'' (ibid., p. 3). For them, free access to knowledge is a necessity for human development. In a study on Open Access in library and information science, Rufai et al. (2012) take the same line. They assume that countries ''falling in the lowincome economic zones have to come on Open Access canvas'' (ibid., 2011, p. 225). In times of financial crises, open journal systems and consequently equal access to knowledge could be an appropriate solution. Additionally, Phelps et al. (2012) regard Open Access to research publications as a catalyst for development, whereas limited access to a small subset of people with subscription is a hindrance to development. Consistently, they define Open Access as ''the widest possible dissemination of information'' (ibid., p. 1).
Table 4 Democratic School—Open Access to publications
Apart from the developmental justification, Phelps et al. (2012) mention another, quite common, logic for Open Access to research publications: ''It is argued (…) that research funded by tax-payers should be made available to the
public free of charge so that the tax-payer does not in effect pay twice for the
research (…)'' (ibid., p.1). 'Paying twice for research' refers to the fact that citizens do not only indirectly finance government-funded research but also the subsequent acquisition of publications from public libraries.
Carroll (2011) also criticizes the inefficiency of traditional, subscriptionfinanced scientific journals in times of growth in digital technologies and networks. He argues that prices should have dropped considerably in the light of the Internet—instead they have increased drastically. He further argues that the Open Access model would shift the balance of power in journal publishing and greatly enhance the efficiency and efficacy of scientific communication (ibid., p. 1). By shifting the financing away from subscriptions, the Open Access model re-aligns copyright and enables broad reuse of publications while at the same time assuring authors and publishers that they receive credit for their effort (e.g. through open licensing).