Reflecting on Open Access

I’ve really enjoyed this week’s topic. It’s been fascinating exploring the issues that the Web brings to content producers, particularly academic publishing.

Jordan and I had a discussion on his blog, where I argued that paying to publish is unlikely to cost more, as it is a rarer activity than reading papers. Jordan made the point that journal access is an institutional cost, whereas publishing would be on a small group of authors.

I also had a great conversation with Patricia, where I said Open Access suffers from its infancy. She agreed, citing a successful OA journal (in the past). We talked about other business models, agreeing that smaller journals may struggle. One such model was micropayments, although this has struggled in mainstream newspapers. Finally, OA is great for reducing inequality in research.

Ji kindly commented on my post, questioning the quality of papers in OA. I postulated the feasibility of an independent reviewer, separate from profitable publishing. He also drew an interesting parallel to the music industry.  In the case of U2, there was a big backlash over free content. I argued it was a problem of choice, not free content – as agency was removed. Therefore, OA should ensure it respects consumer’s decisions.

Finally, Baby Boomer also joined in on my post. They talked about the ethical issues surrounding advertising in journals, including conflicts of interest, which I agreed with. Advertising merely demonstrates alternatives to ‘pay to publish’. Also, it was said that papers can currently be found in person, i.e. at the British Library. This is similar to ‘green’ OA, except it incurs travel costs. Furthermore, it is bad for transparency, as those who are merely ‘interested’ are unlikely to make the effort.

All in all, this has been a really fruitful discussion on a great final topic!

Word count: 300

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