In 2009 when I decided to launch Pakistaniaat: A Journal of Pakistan Studies, our aim was to launch and establish a refereed journal with full open access. I was not much aware of the Open Access Movement then, but I wanted to have the journal accessible to the very people–the Pakistanis–in whose name the journal was launched to have free access to it.
Now in its fifth year of publication, Pakistaniaat has not only been a success as an academic journal but serves also as a proof of the importance and long-term resilience of the open access model. Yes, we have had our trials, and had to come up with innovative methods of supporting our hosting fees and other expenses. But over all, I am happy to assert, a combination of our own planning, community and institutional support, and the generosity of our international volunteer staff has made it possible for us to become one of the leading academic journals in the filed.
In fact we have been so successful that Muneeza Shamsie, the eminent Pakistani critic, opined as follows about our efforts:
Pakistaniaat: A Journal of Pakistan Studies . . . is an immensely important addition to Pakistan Studies. The journal is a peer-reviewed multi-disciplinary academic journal with online and print editions; its many literature-related writings include critical articles, reviews, bibliography and a much-needed platform for new poetry, fiction and translations by writers of Pakistani origin. (Muneeza Shamsie, Journal of Commonwelath Literature Vol 46 (4): 2011)
So, to answer the question: Why open access? My answer is simply that it works. It enables us to level the playing field in terms of access to knowledge. And, it is hoped, if knowledge is available freely then this hierarchical system of the modern knowledge economy could be dismantled and made anew into a more democratic, responsive, and compassionate world system.
So, here we are: we have taken our stand. It is now your turn to invest in open access and fight the good fight for equal and open access of knowledge.