Scientific Authorship and E-Commons

Luc Schneider
Universität des Saarlandes
This contribution tries to assess how the Web is changing the ways in which scientific knowledge is produced, distributed and evaluated, in particular how it is transforming the conventional conception of scientific authorship. After having properly introduced the notions of copyright, public domain and commons, I will critically assess James Boyle's thesis that copyright and scientific commons are antagonistic, but I will mostly agree with the related claim by Stevan Harnad that copyright has become an obstacle to the accessibility of scientific works. I will even go further and argue that Open Access schemes not only solve the problem of the availability of scientific literature, but may also help to tackle the uncontrolled multiplication of scientific publications, since these publishing schemes are based on free public licenses allowing for re-use of texts. However, the scientific community does not seem to be prepared yet to move towards an Open Source model of authorship, probably due to concerns related to attributing credit and responsability for the expressed hypotheses and results. Some strategies and tools that may encourage a change of academic mentality in favour of a conception of scientific authorship modelled on the Open Source paradigm are discussed
Keywords philosophy of computing science  e-publishing
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