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January 31, 2012 / playforth

Fields of gold?

Throwing a few unformed thoughts on open access into the debate:

HorsePublishers are not anti-open access. They’re just pro-money. Last year I heard a Springer executive explain that they were ‘agnostic’ about methods of scholarly communication – as long as they could find a business model in there (and they certainly have). The trouble is, ‘open access’ journals from commercial stables are horses of a totally different colour to, for example, PLoS. All these journals do is transfer the costs from the reader to the author, which for the truly idealistic/naive OA advocate isn’t a sustainable change in the model. It certainly doesn’t bode well for researchers in poorer institutions or in developing countries, and if the research being published is only a partial picture then it doesn’t matter how equitable the reader-side has become. A publisher-led Gold OA route is not the only option – we have our repositories and we have our collective bargaining power (a force as yet untapped, perhaps.)

Yes, it is naive to expect all publishers to turn themselves into non-profits like PLoS, but librarians and repository managers and scholars don’t serve the profit motive and sometimes, naivety can change the world.


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