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Open-access publishing: Too good to be true?

December 2, 2003


The world of journal publication is at odds over the idea of open-access to research findings.

Scientific findings–even those publicly financed–typically are copyrighted by the journal in which they are published. Only those able to afford ever-increasing fees and subscription prices can access the information.

Open-access publishers charge authors a publishing fee and provide the information at no cost through the Internet and at a low cost in print, allowing ideas to spread more quickly and to a greater number of readers.
December 2, 2003


The world of journal publication is at odds over the idea of open-access to research findings.

Scientific findings—even those publicly financed—typically are copyrighted by the journal in which they are published. Only those able to afford ever-increasing fees and subscription prices can access the information.

Open-access publishers charge authors a publishing fee and provide the information at no cost through the Internet and at a low cost in print, allowing ideas to spread more quickly and to a greater number of readers.

Though smaller libraries stand to gain substantially greater access to research through the open-access model, Deborah Fetch, director of Austin Peay State University's Woodward Library, is doubtful the money needed to sustain open-access journals will be available.

“The sciences typically have the funding to pay such publishing fees, but it is not common to have that kind of money available [for other types of studies],” she says. “Someone has to pay for this information.”

APSU students currently benefit from electronic publishing, using more than 50 subject-specific databases to search periodicals and books.

“[Open-access] publishing is still an experiment. It's not that different from electronic publishing,” says Fetch, noting even if the model is successful, it will not impact students significantly for years to come.

“It's too [early] to know what's going to happen, but I would be surprised if it worked out. There are strong for-profit interests in the marketplace working against this new model.”
—Terry Stringer