How to access Open Access?
“Last week, taken aback by the revelation of Elsevier’s deep support for the Research Works Act, an anti open-access piece of US legislation, I declined to review a manuscript for the publisher and wrote about my reasons for doing so... Elsevier’s support for the RWA is backfiring badly. Discussions on open access have been rumbling on for more than a decade but suddenly there is a feeling of movement. But is it real?... Everyone has heard of OA and is more or less aware of tensions with publishers. But I emailed my department last week to take a poll of views on the Elsevier debate and from a staff of nearly a hundred received just a handful of replies. Most readily support the principle of OA but there is residual hesitation. The lustre of the impact factor still shines brightly... we need concerted action to change ingrained practices. The UK government has signalled its support for OA in principle but we shall have to hope that aspiration converts to practical action. Maybe there are ways for the scientific community to help out with that? In the UK I would like to see the Royal Society pick up the government’s message and start to spread it... perhaps the Royal Society fellows, each picked for their scientific success and so secure in their position, could lead the way by committing to fully OA publishing? Fellows and other senior scientists could also help to break the tyranny of impact factors by publicly eschewing their use when serving on grant and promotion committees and focusing instead on the science... The funding agencies also have a role, as Cameron Neylon has pointed out. At present, the UK Research Council policies on OA are relatively ineffective... The Wellcome Trust, by contrast, has created a mechanism that works much better by providing funding so authors can pay open access charges even when grants have finished. But Wellcome’s approach still fails to address the problem of cost (which may in part account for its plans to become a publisher)... university libraries still have to pay the full subscription costs for journals, even when they contain OA articles, so universities face excess costs during this transitional period. Would it not be better to get the transition over and done with? The question is how to propel it forward...”