Open Access USA

There was an important announcement yesterday about Open Access from the Office of Science & Technology Policy at the White House which I picked up from Twitter. Here is a summary:

More detailed documents can be found here and here.

The principle that research that is funded by the public should be available to the public is one of the foundations of Open Access publishing and it is laudable to see this enforced more strictly. Previously journals were able to keep articles behind a paywall for an embargo period, just withholding access for up to a year. The deadline for ending this practice is December 31st 2025. I would have made it sooner, but at least it has not been kicked into the very long grass.

The problem that I can see with the policy is that it will probably involve researchers having to pay thousands of dollars in article processing fees associated with the “Gold” Open Access of the form offered by commercial publishers. When the summary says “without cost” it means “without cost to the reader”. The way it will work is that these costs are transferred to the authors. The publishers will still gather their profits.

It will take stronger policies than this to break the stranglehold of the academic publishing cartels. It is more likely in my view that radical change will emerge from the grass roots, as researchers find novel ways of publishing their work without handing huge dollops of cash to profiteers.

2 Responses to “Open Access USA”

  1. It is a good step. We would still need to address the issue of ranking of papers, as used by governments, universities and of course by academics. Some countries require papers to be published in ranked journals. Some people use impact factors to judge individual papers. It enforces a monopoly and allows those journals to charge high fees.

    • If the institute has signed up to DORA then they should not be using impact factors in any assessments, for e.g. promotion. I believe STFC now make it clear when requesting reports that referees should not use impact factors as a measure of quality.

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