Wednesday, December 14, 2011 at 10:45:32
Just as the Journal of Maps is transitioning over to a subscription based model we see the government increasingly becoming interested in open access publishing. The lead in The Guardian is:
“The government has signalled a revolution in scientific publishing by throwing its weight behind the idea that all publicly funded scientific research must be published in open-access journals.”
which is verging on the side of sensationalist, but does reflect a genuine interest by government to become more transparent and make outputs of funded research more widely available. I am a big supporter of open-access as it allows all to access research work, but as The Guardian notes, journals add significant value through peer-review and the actual publication. Someone as to do this and it has to be funded. They note the physics research community moving funding from subscription to author-pays (something we used at JoM), but consensus varies by discipline. The actual cost of publishing a journal article is quite high (somewhere over $1000) and for many disciplines with very low amounts of research funding this is not sustainable. And it begs the question about where to publish non-funded research (again, varying by discipline, and often in very significant quantities).
So if the author doesn’t pay and the library doesn’t pay, who does? Well that’s a good question and why the subscription model remains the most popular as it is the closest solution. Many open access journals are directly funded by learned societies who also have subscription based journals, whilst learned societies also rely upon journal subscriptions to fund research activities. I don’t know what the mix between commercial and learned societies is, but it would be interesting to investigate. I don’t think anyone would argue with reducing excessive profits by some publishers, but there has to be a publishing solution in place that is fit-for-purpose.