Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Paying article charges at OA journals

Jan Velterop, Of cost and value, The Parachute, April 2, 2006. Excerpt:
Kate Corby's review of John Willinsky's book The Access Principle...says that "Perhaps the strongest point this book makes is that openly accessible scholarly information is more valuable [than] information published in journals with limited access."

On this point, I couldn't agree more with Willinsky. Yet if his point is valid, why is it that there are still plenty of members of the academic community, including OA advocates, who somehow balk at the idea of willing, OA-conscious publishers charging for the service of open access publishing? Isn't what one is prepared to pay for something an expression of its 'value'? So why is Academia prepared to shell out for subscriptions, but reluctant to pay for the article charges that come with OA publishing? In the aggregate, and in the traditional subscription model, Academia spends an amount far exceeding $3000 for every single article published in established journals. Why not spend that money on publishing all those articles with open access? And get more value to boot? Or is Academia just too anarchic to be sensible about this?

Comment. I don't object to author-side processing fees as a business model for OA journals. In fact, like Jan, I wish universities would join funding agencies in their willingness to pay them. I only object (1) when people call this business model the "author pays" model, or (2) when people assume that this is the only business model for OA journals. In fact, these fees are usually paid by funders or employers, not by authors out of pocket; when funders and employers won't pay the fees, journals often waive them; and the majority of OA journals charge no author-side fees at all.