Not all that shines is Diamond: why Open Access publication favours rich authors, prestigious universities and industry-funded research | A Blog of Trial and Error
flavoursofopenscience's bookmarks 2022-12-08
by Marcel Hobma
In recent years, it has become increasingly common for researchers to publish their work in Open Access by paying article processing costs to the publisher [1, 2]. Before the digital revolution, academic publishing was mostly subscription-based and university libraries paid publishers at regular intervals for large bundles of journals. Every physical copy of a journal came with its own production and distribution costs, making Open Access an unrealistic pursuit. When academic research was digitalized and the costs of copying and disseminating research lowered dramatically, the Open Access movement gained momentum and at least four ways of Open Access (OA) publishing joined the old subscription model . Authors can now publish their studies in subscription-based Green OA journals, which allows them to republish their work on large preprint servers such as ArXiv and in freely accessible institutional repositories managed by university libraries. A second option is to publish in full Open Access, peer-reviewed journals that rely on author-paid article processing costs to maintain a steady source of income. Diamond OA journals like the Journal of Trail and Error also publish in full Open Access, but don't charge the authors with any costs. Lastly, there exists the option to publish in commercial Hybrid journals that combine the subscription model with Open Access publishing.
Article processing costs allow researchers to publish Open Access articles in well-edited and prestigious journals, which is the main reason for authors and their funders to pay these costs. Open access is often portrayed as essential to the transparent and cooperative nature of science, but also aims to circumvent the high paywalls raised by commercial publishers that limit the access of research, and therefore facilitate the dissemination of valuable knowledge [4-6]. However, the promises and advantages of the author-paid funding mechanism also come with a downside in the form of publication bias. Not every author or institution might be able or willing to pay article processing costs if they are too high and this could lead to selective publishing practices that favour certain groups of researchers, institutions and research topics.