Scientific publishing: Grand openings | The Economist
"Whether the experience of Nature Communications will overcome researchers’ misgivings remains to be seen. Despite the Wellcome Trust’s requirement that its grantees publish in open-access journals, only 70% do so. To ensure compliance, the trust has had to introduce punitive measures, such as withholding money. Some researchers just don’t care, though. A survey by Taylor & Francis, a publishing firm, asked American and British scientists if they had published under open-access policies; 44% and 32%, respectively, did not know. More than half responded they did not know if they would in future. But many do know, and resist. The point about prestige is not mere snobbery. The league table of journals is as finely graded as that of football, and, at the moment, has far less scope for promotion and demotion. Grant-awarding bodies and appointment committees know this and, in a wonderful display of doublethink, promote open access but also promote those who eschew it by publishing in top-notch, non-open journals. Only when that changes will open access’s victory be complete. This could happen either by new open-access journals acquiring the necessary kudos, or by old ones, seeing the game is up, becoming open access themselves. Though Nature Communications is a successful and well-regarded publication, it is not NPG’s top product. And Royal Society Open Science is untested. At the moment, then, both the Royal Society and NPG seem to be hedging their bets. When the society’s Proceedings, and NPG’s eponymous flagship, Nature, are both free for anyone to read, then open access’s partisans really will be able to declare victory and go home."