Alexandra Elbakyan may feel like Robin Hood, stealing from greedy publishers and sharing with oppressed intellectuals, but she really hurts the progress of knowledge [“Thief? Or liberator of knowledge from the tyranny of profit?,” front page, April 8].
The sharing of knowledge via journals would be minimal without the free-enterprise publishers that pay for the editors, assistants, computer services, office space, database operations and Internet access needed for the journals. Without income, this vital tool for researchers will shrink. Most researchers associated with an institution (university, business, government) have wide access to journals for free (paid for by their institution). Federal grants (e.g., from the National Institutes of Health) require open-access publications in parallel with publishing in journals. Also, free databases contain sections of books from authors who rely on compensation. A positive disruption of this system might proceed if free-publication advocates spent the time to research the situation (with peer review) and show evidence about how it could be improved to enhance progress.
Edward Kerns, Laytonsville