An interesting article from Kalev Leetaru looks at the reluctance of academia to join the open access insurgence. The concept of open access is gathering momentum at a phenomenal pace, yet most of the output from academia is still not accessible by the majority of people.
The career of a scientist is often determined by his/her publication record and publishing in high ranking journals can have a huge influence on success in the field. Journals operating an open access system often do not have the same impact as a top-tier journal and so may not appeal to young scientists trying to build a career. However, publishing in a subscription-based journal may limit an article’s audience and prevent authors from sharing their own data due to copyright infringements. University libraries cannot afford to subscribe to all journals and if a journal is not available, the cost of reading just a single article can be significant. Kalev points to the rise of academic pirating sites as a consequence not only of the high costs but also of the often confusing library systems that are used by universities.
The drive for freely accessible articles is changing how journals operate. If there are no journal subscription fees, then the costs of publishing must be met by the authors instead. With some journals charging as much as $5000 per article, this can represent a significant sum to be found from a research grant. However, as some funding bodies push for the research they fund to be publically available, there is an inevitability that academia will have to change and join the open access revolution, but it will a gradual process. Kalev points out that the internet would not be here without the research performed in academia, yet rather ironically it is academia that appears reluctant to join the open access age.