There are arguments that the processing fee model approach to open access could introduce much needed competition into the scholarly publishing industry, and that this approach could simply result in a replacing a subscriptions crisis based on a price spiral with a processing fee price spiral. In my opinion, both arguments are correct. There are many variations of approaches to the processing fee model. Some introduce incentives to seek best services at best prices, and hence stimulate competition. One example is a funding agency providing a set amount or percentage for dissemination of research results, with discretion for the author to spend the full amount on publishing one article, or seeking a better price for publishing services,and using the remaining funds for other purposes. Other approaches, such as agreeing to a blanket fee for publication that is higher than the true costs of publishing an open access article, seem designed to reward inefficiencies and hence create the processing fee price spiral....
To avoid confusion, let me first of all clarify that there are a number of business models for open access journals. The majority do not rely on processing fees at all....
Given these complexities, in my opinion it is best if funders adopt a simple mandate, requiring open access to the results of research they fund, and the authors' own work (with revisions suggested by peer reviewers). Funders have every right to make this requirement immediate on publication, or acceptance for publication. Publishers provide a valuable service, but they do not have any rights. Every business must adapt to changing environments, and the scholarly publishing industry is no exception.
Some publishers claim that if articles are available open access, there will be a precipitous decline in subscriptions. There is no evidence that this is likely, and much evidence that this is extremely unlikely, such as the experience of physics publishing peacefully coexisting with nearly 100% OA in arXiv for 15 years, the fact that those who rely on the publishing services, the authors, are faculty members who are consulted in any cancellation decisions, and the fact that many of the larger library contracts are multi-year, and could not be cancelled suddenly.
However, even if all the library subscriptions were suddenly cancelled - so what? The monies that went into subscriptions would then be free to support gold OA publishing! ...
Peter Suber at 2/25/2007 10:38:00 AM.
The open access movement:
Putting peer-reviewed scientific and scholarly literature
on the internet. Making it available free of charge and
free of most copyright and licensing restrictions.
Removing the barriers to serious research.