Open Access Journals: Has the shine faded?


The recent launch of several high-profile open-access journals by commercial publishers including Nature Publishing Group and SAGE elicited cheers from veterans of the open-access movement.

Here, they thought, was evidence that their ideal of making research freely available online, as expressed in 2002’s landmark Budapest Open Access Initiative document, was finally gaining mainstream traction.

But according to Christopher Pressler, director of research library services at the University of London, the enthusiasm for “gold” (journal-based) open access is relatively recent and amounts to a “fundamental compromise” necessitated by the open-access movement’s failure to plan for the financial sustainability and academic appeal of “green” open access, which is built around self-archiving papers in institutional repositories.

He contended that librarians’ original goal in pushing for open access was to take academic publishing away from the commercial enterprises they perceived to be making unjustifiably large profits from charging universities for access to their own research.

Mr Pressler told Times Higher Education that the rise of gold open access could lead to an even greater drain on university budgets due to some publishers’ alleged practice of “double dipping”: charging authors for open-access options without reducing subscription prices proportionately.

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