What is eScholarship@McGill? It’s an online warehouse for storing and displaying literature authored by McGill professors and students. Whether you’re a professor at Oxford or a peasant in Portugal, anyone can access it from everywhere in the world. And it’s free!
Yeah – so what? eScholarship@McGill is part of the open access to scholarly literature movement. This lets everybody in on the scholarly action, so that more people read literature than before. The hope is that, in turn, more people will write literature than before.
I don’t get it. Okay, let’s back up a little bit. Traditionally, scholars would sell their literature to publishers, who would then sell the literature to readers. But the literature existed mostly in paper copy, and the fees were a deterrent, so not many people ended up reading the literature.
That’s nice of scholars to give up their pay. Yes, it’s very nice of scholars to share their literature with the world. But scholars don’t necessarily forgo their pay. Uploading their literature to open access websites doesn’t preclude them from selling it to publishers.
You said “open access websites” – there’s more than one? That is correct. eScholarship@McGill is but one of many open access websites. Most universities have open access websites nowadays — just google the university’s name together with “institutional repository”. Or visit www.OAIster.org, which is a database of open access sites.
What’s this got to do with copyright? Copyright limits people’s access to literature. Open access makes literature freely available.
What’s this got to do with coursepacks? If professors get their coursepack materials from open access sites rather than through Copibec, coursepack pricing could go way down.
What’s the McGill one again? Here: http://www.mcgill.ca/library/library-findinfo/escholarship.