While most academics and librarians would love to have open access to all kinds of publications, what would publishers do if their source of revenue was obliterated?
One expert is quoted as saying that Elsevier’s profits would tumble by 60%, which would be “catastrophic” for the company. But the UK’s Science Minister warns that publishers had better figure out a plan quickly, or they will end up taking a hit much like the music industry did when file sharing became commonplace.
Some publishers have decided to try out varying levels of open access: Offering authors the chance to pay to have their articles open access; offering open access to journals after an embargo period; or making specific issues of their journals open access. But these options come with consequences too.
A survey of from the Association of Learned, Professional and Society Publishers [ALPSP] and The Publishers Association found that if arts, social sciences and humanities journals were freely available after 6 months, 65% of libraries would cancel some or all of their subscriptions.
If authors are required to pay in order to make their research open access, that is a hit on universities that won’t necessarily be made up by having to pay fewer subscriptions. The Vice-Chancellor for Research at the University of Oxford stated that the university’s publishing costs would rise 350%.
On the other hand, The University of Minnesota has said that sometimes “it costs the University less to underwrite authors’ costs than it does to pay to view works when they are not open access.” As such, they have established a $20,000 Open Access Publishing fund.
There are no clear answers to who will bear the cost of open access, but the level of expectation for Open Access is rising quickly. Solutions must be found if we are to avoid burdening universities, authors or publishers to the point of irreversible harm in the name of better access to research.
Other Posts for Open Access Week 2012:
20 Open Access Science Resources by Matt Von Hendy
Connecting Non-Native Speakers with Open Access Law Journals by Bobbi Weaver