The cost of communicating scholarly research: is Open Access the answer?

This is an ongoing debate which is getting a lot of attention right now. We have already seen articles about the “Academic Spring” in the Guardian and now the same newspaper has published an article in which it says that Harvard University ” wants scientists to make their research open access and resign from publications that keep articles behind paywalls”.

The National Institute for Health (USA) Public Access Policy requires that all research funded by them must be made publicly available “no later than 12 months after the official date of publication”. In the UK, the Research Councils are “committed to the guiding principles that publicly funded research must be made available to the public and remain accessible for future generations” and recently produced for consultation a revised draft of their OA policy which goes much further than the original. The Medical Research Council claim to be “champions of open access publishing”.

So how does Open Access work? Will it be the author-pays-for-publication model or self-archiving in institutional of subject-based open access repositories? If we move towards OA, what is the future for scholarly communication in general?

If you want to know more about Open Access in the UK, the JISC have a useful web page, and the RIN (Research Information Network)  have published a report (Heading for the open road: costs and benefits of transitions in scholarly communications) which sets the OA debate in the context of  shcolarly journal publishing.

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