Open Access Journals: A New Scientific Revolution?
“... In many cases, the research itself is publicly-funded, either directly through government research grants, or indirectly through use of facilities at state-run universities. Under the traditional subscription model, the taxpayer ends up paying three times for a single piece of research - first via the research grant, then to pay the salaries of peer reviewers who work for public universities and institutions, and finally through public libraries who pay the subscription fee for the journal. The situation is also unfavorable for the scientists who write the journal articles. The value of a scientific study is ultimately in its impact - how much influence it has had on the field of study. This is measured by the number of citations the study has received in subsequent studies of the same topic. Limiting access to a journal article makes it less likely to be cited, and thus reduces its impact. Some journal publishers even prohibit authors from self-publishing their own work on their personal or university web sites, retaining the intellectual property rights to the author's hard work. In 1991, physicist Paul Ginsparg, working at Los Alamos National Laboratory, created an online archive on the lanl.gov web site to house pre-print versions of physics papers that were awaiting publication in scientific journals. This site, named arXiv, was one of the earliest experiments in Open Access, and has proven to be among the most successful... There are two basic models of Open Access publishing: Green and Gold. ArXiv is an example of Green Open Access - the archiving of published journal articles or pre-print manuscripts in a freely-accessible location. Another example would be self-archiving of papers to a university document repository or faculty member's personal page. Though some subscriber-based academic journals have adopted a Green Open Access policy for their authors, many have not and strictly retain the copyright to the author's work. Gold Open Access is less common, but far more accessible. Journals such as the Public Library of Science or some publications of the National Academy of Sciences provide all published articles free of charge to the public. There are a few other variations on these models. Hybrid Open Access journals, for example, allow authors to pay to make their article freely available. Delayed Open Access is another model some journals have adopted, keeping articles behind a pay wall for an embargo period of anywhere from a month to well over a year. After this embargo period, articles are made open access on the publisher's site or via the author. Even though Open Access enjoys widespread support amongst researchers, scientists, funding agencies, librarians, and public advocacy organizations, the new paradigm of publishing still has its critics - primarily those in the traditional journal publishing industry. The long-term economic sustainability of an Open Access publishing model is an often-cited concern. Another concern is that the pay-for-publishing system of some Open Access journals unfairly favors researchers from well-funded institutions. The automatic publishing function of sites such as arXiv has also prompted some critics to raise concerns about the loss of the peer-review gatekeeper function of journals Two decades after the beginning of the movement, Open Access scientific literature is still the exception, not the rule in science publishing. The success of sites such as arXiv and PLoS provide cause for optimism, however. As Open Access journals grow in prestige, they may one day compete with the top scientific journals. For the forseeable future, however, the subscription model will still be around.”