This week we were looking at the argument of publishing academic articles and the costs that go with it. I must start off by saying it’s not something I have given much thought. Lecturers bring the topic up from time to time but as far as I’m concerned while in university they are all free for me. Of course people will point out I incur costs through my education fees but I’m sure my education fees are wasted on much less worthwhile endeavours.
All three pieces I read looked at the option of open access and its validity and as with everything there are two sides to every story. The figures stated seem outlandish and the first piece I read “Academic publishers make Murdoch look like a socialist” says it all in the title. The last article I read was the only one that tried to actually explain the outlandish costs “Open access: The true cost of science publishing” that publishers slap on. Something I can’t quite get to grips with is the variation in prices. Some articles cost less than a $/€100 with others going in to the thousands. The explanation of course comes down to hybrid journals and the importance of the subject matter as well as the peer review process but it still seems over the top.
The debate about open access was discussed thoroughly in “Gold or green: which is the best shade of open access?” and while people seem to be pushing for this is doesn’t actually seem like a viable option to me. Costs would be shifted and the debate whether the average price per article would actually rise or fall is still unsure due to economic demands. Furthermore the lack of enthusiasm as it was put from researchers and research funders to deposit any manuscripts they publish in subscription journals in free online repositories seems an intriguing issue.The lack of a business model behind the gold open access coupled with the fact they seemed to have an agenda going in to it does not shine a good light on that route. However I would be worried if the green open access was adopted, there would be far too much to be waded through with everyone having their articles accessible. I admittedly don’t understand and would need to carry out further research which of course depends on the access I have to what’s published I suppose.
The general consensus is that open access is the way to go and it will eventually become the way. However coming from my economic background I can’t see why organisations would even entertain the idea of relinquishing any power especially if there is nobody forcing them, which there is not. Apparently this debate has been going on since the early 90s and from what I could ascertain will continue on for some time to come. Of course with anything technology has its impact. Many organisations are still dealing with antiquated workflows for arranging peer review, typesetting, file-format conversion and other chores. Whereas small start-ups can come up with fresh workflows using the latest electronic tools, some established publishers are.
Only time will tell and every vested party will have their say no doubt and keep a close eye but who eventually wins out is a mystery nobody can answer at this point in time.