The Academic Serials in Communication Unified System is a proposal from the folks at the Communication Institute for Online Scholarship who are trying to develop a new subscription-based not-for-profit full-text online index of communication journals. It’s not open access, but it is the right direction. And as the proposal stands, subscriptions will not be required for those accessing from institutions in lesser developed countries. ASCUS has just announced that it has partnered with SPARC, a move that should improve the reach and viability of the project.
The timing on this is important. This summer EBSCO started offering a database with full text from communication journals for $8,000 annually. Given the cost of journals lately, especially in the sciences, this is a steal. On the other hand, why is it that academics are lining the pockets of publishers, while not profiting from their own publications? It makes a lot more sense to do this in an environment in which profit is not the motive. To be able to do that successfully, though, the project will need to have the same kind of coverage as the for-profit effort, and that will be difficult to attain.