In the biomedical and physical sciences the ” open access” journals set has a large market share of publishing. Understanding this phenomena is somewhat difficult as there are many approaches to open access publishing. Over several blog entries I want to share some ideas about this as it is still relatively rare in social science research.
First, we in academia need to understand that most of us live in the world where the university library pays for our access to the vast majority of the published research literature. In other words we live our lives on the other side of the paywall barrier. Indeed, for many of us, the only inconvenience is if we are literature searching from home, we have to sign into our university account first! However, for the non- university based person paywalls are a fact of life, with per article charges of $30 or more!
Open access is based on the premise that knowledge should be readily available to the world, especially if it is created by authors at public universities or at least that research that is based on research funds from government granting agencies. All of the major accounting journals live behind a paywall, where for at least a year, often for a lifetime, those who do not “subscribe” ( I.e. work at a university) cannot access more than the article abstract without paying a fee.
The basic idea of open access is that the cost of publishing should shift from the users (I.e. subscribers) to the producers ( I.e. the researchers). In the next post, the most common open access model.