Shieber SM (2009) Equity for Open-Access Journal Publishing. PLoS Biol 7(8): e1000165.
Full article. (Thanks to Syed Khan for bringing this to our attention.)
Scholars write articles to be read—the more access to their articles the better—so one might think that the open-access approach to publishing, in which articles are freely available online to all without interposition of an access fee, would be an attractive competitor to traditional subscription-based journal publishing.
But open-access journal publishing is currently at a systematic disadvantage relative to the traditional model.
I propose a simple, cost-effective remedy to this inequity that would put open-access publishing on a path to become a sustainable, efficient system, allowing the two journal publishing systems to compete on a more level playing field. The issue is important, first, because academic institutions shouldn't perpetuate barriers to an open-access business model on principle and, second, because the subscription-fee business model has manifested systemic dysfunctionalities in practice. After describing the problem with the subscription-fee model, I turn to the proposal for providing equity for open-access journal publishing—the open-access compact.