1. The Context
1.1 The development of online scholarly
publishing has facilitated a far wider dissemination of scholarly
works than was possible with print. At the same time, the apparent
barriers to entry into scholarly publishing online have been lowered.
These factors, coupled with the inability of library budgets to
keep pace with the growth in published scholarly and research
informationabout 3% per yearand above-inflation
price increases have created considerable concern within both
academic and some government circles that the market for scholarly
information is not working effectively. Members of the library
and academic communities have asserted an interest in re-evaluating
the structure of learned journal publishing. One manifestation
of this concern has been the emergence of the "Open Access
Movement", which poses a significant challenge to the established
subscription based journal publishing model.
1.2 The concept of Open Access has been
formed from two perspectives:
Firstly, that which wishes to provide
free access to all scholarly research in the name of advancing
global access to work previously only available to those that
subscribe to a particular journal.
Secondly, that which resents paying
to access content made available by commercial companies, for
profit, particularly when price rises and sheer volume hinder
libraries from providing access to all the content that is demanded
2. What is Open Access?
2.1 Open Access is a term used to describe
a number of publishing models, all of which remove (or intend
to gradually remove) the traditional journal subscription model.
Recognised definitions of Open Access have been developed by a
number of organisations:
Bethesda statement , June 2003 (www.earlham.edu/~peters/fos/bethesda.htm)
"An Open Access Publication is
one that meets the following two conditions:
The author(s) and copyright holder(s)
grant(s) to all users a free, irrevocable, world-wide, perpetual
right of access to, and a license to copy, use, distribute, transmit
and display the work publicly and to make and distribute derivative
works, in any digital medium for any responsible purpose, subject
to proper attribution of authorship, as well as the right to
make small numbers of printed copies for their personal use.
A complete version of the work
and all supplemental materials, including a copy of the permission
as stated above, in a suitable standard electronic format is deposited
immediately upon initial publication in at least one online repository
that is supported by an academic institution, scholarly society,
government agency, or other well-established organisation that
seeks to enable open access, unrestricted distribution, interoperability,
and long-term archiving.
1. Open access is a property
of individual works, not necessarily journals or publishers.
2. Community standards,
rather than copyright law, will continue to provide the mechanism
for enforcement of proper attribution and responsible use of the
published work, as they do now."
Budapest Open Access Initiative,
"By `open access' to this literature
we mean its free availability on the public internet, permitting
any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search,
or link to the full texts of these articles, crawl them for indexing,
pass them as data to software, or use them for any other lawful
purpose, without financial, legal or technical barriers other
than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself.
The only constraint on reproduction and distribution, and the
only role for copyright in this domain, should be to give authors
control over the integrity of their work and the right to be properly
acknowledged and cited."
2.2 Regardless of differences in detail
between different statements and manifestos on Open Access, the
key driver is the desire for unfettered availability online to
peer-reviewed research papers on publication. This involves a
combination of all or any of the following:
The author retains copyright to his/her
work, and permits it to be freely available onlineto be
contrasted with the conventional model in which the author assigns
copyright, or grants exclusive publishing rights in all media,
to the publisher, which then manages access.
The article is published in an Open
The article is posted to an institutional
or discipline-based online depository for free online access,
even though it may be published in a conventional subscription-based
3. Open Access publishing models
3.1 The publishing models fall into two
general categories, the Open Access journal model and the Open
Archive model, which has a number of variations on the same theme,
including institutional repositories.
3.1.1 The Open Access journal model
Access to the journal is entirely free online
world-wide. It does not rely on the traditional subscription based
model to generate revenue; revenue is generated in one, or both,
of two ways:
The author's institution or research grant pays a
publication fee, upon acceptance of the article, which covers
Article selection process.
Institutions pay an annual membership fee to the
Open Access journal, which allows an unlimited number of articles
accepted for publication from authors at that institution to be
published in the journal.
3.1.2 The Open Archive model
Open archives, self-archiving and institutional
repositories are important components of the Open Access movement.
Open-archiving has often been described as being the same thing
as institutional repositories and the self-archiving of pre-print
articles. In reality, the picture is considerably more complex.
There are a number of guises in which Open Archives appear:
Authors simply posts their articles
as accepted for publication to their personal web pages.
Articles are posted to an institutional
depository: a server established by a university or research organisation
to host the output of the institution's faculty and researchers.
Articles are posted to an open depository
established to cover a specific discipline.
4. Uncertainties about Open Access
The first and foremost uncertainty created in
Open Access publishing is the place of copyright. The BOAI states
that Open Access publishing is entirely compatible with copyright
law, in that it gives the copyright holder the right to make access
open or restricted, however it seeks to put copyright in the hands
of the author or institution which wishes to make access open.
This initiative negates the traditional position of the publisher
and removes the basis upon which they have operated their businesses.
The implication of authors' retention of copyright
is that the only "properties" the publisher is left
holding are the journal "brand" and all of the added
value that they can attach to the content. Authors are able to
do what they want with their article: post it to open archives,
institutional and discipline specific repositories. The journal
brand is still of great importance to editors and to authors in
terms of tenure and promotion. Added value services such as metadata,
portals, usage statistics, search functions and packages can continue
to be provided by the publisher as an alternative to the subscription
to the content of any journals or databases. Apart from any revenue
generated from publication fees, added value services will be
the remaining core of the publisher's business.
It is generally accepted that peer-review is
provided by academics without any remuneration; it is seen as
part of the responsibilities of research and scholarship. In fact,
many publishers do provide payment to their reviewers, although
it is often nominal. But peer review involves considerable administration,
which is traditionally performed or facilitated and funded by
the publisher. In other words, the system of peer review has to
be funded. This has been recognised by Open Access advocates.
Open Access involves shifting the cost of publication,
including peer review, from the individual or institutional subscriber
to the author, by charging the author a publication fee. As proposed
by Open Access advocates, this fee covers the cost of operating
the publication, including the cost of processing and reviewing
papers that are in the event rejected. The rejection rate in leading,
highly respected journals can be as high as 70-80% of all papers
submitted. If the author whose paper is accepted for publication
bears the whole cost of publication, this means that he/she bears
the cost of processing papers that are rejected; it seems inequitable
that a successful author should bear the costs involved in dealing
with others whose work is judged not to be worthy of publication.
This will result in the most prestigious journals being the most
expensive. Alternatively, Open Access journals must begin to charge
a submission fee, where the author has no guarantee that their
paper is going to be published. This may be met with some objection
from the academic community.
Open Access journals that charge institutions
a membership fee may also encounter financial difficulties. The
membership fee does not take into account the number of submissions
(and therefore rejections) made by any one institution. This causes
the cost of peer-review of articles from that one institution
to potentially spiral upwards, making the membership fee inadequate
to cover these costs.
4.3 Additional costs
The advocates of Open Access have failed to
address a range of costs involved in Open Access systems to facilitate
access and linking. It is unclear how the infrastructure will
Technology is frequently advancing and changing.
Major upgrades to systems that will provide Open Access will cost
large sums of money. It is assumed that Open Access will create
more use, and many believe that users will find articles using
robots or harvesting tools that require considerable bandwidth
and processing capacity.
4.3.2 Accessibility and links to existing
In order to integrate Open Access journal articles
into the existing body of research literature online, they will
have to be allocated DOIs, linked to CrossRef and be Open URL
compliant; metadata will have to be created, and usage statistics
Potential readers need to know of the existence
of Open Access journals and repositories. This requires systematic
marketing. Successfully reaching an entire academic community
takes time and incurs a number of costs, whether this marketing
is online, at conferences or paper-based (ie direct mail).
5. The transitional period
5.1 Scholarly and research publishing is
a supply-driven activity. Authors need to publish in order to
establish their "ownership" of their research and to
derive their rewards in the form of career progression, funding
for further research. If one were to design a publishing system
on a blank sheet of paper, there is some merit in meeting the
costs of that system at the point of supply, rather than, as at
present, at the point of delivery. However, Open Access has to
displace a publishing system based on subscriptions that has survived
for 300 years. The key area in which Open Access may fail is the
transitional period from the present system to Open Access. This
is dependent on persuading academic authors to submit their papers
to largely unproven Open Access journalsand pay for the
privilegerather than to established journals. That is a
very difficult sales pitch for Open Access to make. Authors seeking
tenure, promotion or grant allocation are judged on their publishing
record, in which the status of the journal in which they are published
is an important factor; they have to publish in reputable, high-impact
5.2 In order for Open Access journals to
reach a significant standard of prestige and attract papers from
authors up for tenure or promotion, they need to be recognised
by the whole academic community they serve. This inevitably involves
the cost of marketing and technology maintenance, which is not
necessarily covered by the modest publication fee. Furthermore,
even after initial marketing, it will still take time for a journal
to be recognised as prestigious. Whether Open Access journals
can be sustained for this "transitional period" remains
to be seen.
5.3 If Open Archives are to succeed on any
level, those authors publishing in traditional journals must then
be given permission by the publisher to post the peer-reviewed
version of the article in open archives or repositories. There
has been a great deal of activity in establishing repositories,
not only in the USA but also in Australia and the UK. These initiatives
have been primed by foundation or government money. This does
not necessarily guarantee the sustainability of the publication
6. Will Open Access displace the current
6.1 Open Access, though unproven, represents
a significant challenge to the existing publishing paradigm. The
level of concern that the current market for journals is not working
properly is shared not only by many librarians and academics,
but also by governments and funding agencies. Some key points
and questions to consider about the future of Open Access are:
The transitional period
Will Open Access journals survive "the
transitional period", when many authors will be disinclined
to publish in them due to the demands of tenure and promotion?
Will they be sustainable without making the publication fee, or
indeed a submission fee, unpalatable to the authors and institutions,
whilst those same institutions are still maintaining traditional
Traditional publishers move to "Open Access"
Traditional publishers may decide to
stop charging for articles and other content. They may charge
publication fees to cover peer-review and may then sell their
packagesor indeed individual online journalsas the
added value services that are integral to these products. Access
to actual articles remains open, but libraries will require the
functionality that their patrons have come to expect. The status
of re-use rights in these circumstances is an open question.
Publishers permitting authors to self-archive peer-reviewed
Many publishers already allow to authors
to post peer-reviewed versions of their articles to their institution's
repository as "post-prints", or to discipline-based
depositories. While there is no current evidence that this practice
has affected subscriptions, if the use of such repositories becomes
widespread, will journal subscriptions start to fall and in turn
publishers need to re-invent themselves?
6.2 The fundamental issue of the sustainability
of an Open Access publishing model remains unanswered. Some 736
Open Access journals are listed in the Lund University directory
(www.doaj.org). With the exception of BioMed Central's 80+ titles,
the majority of them have been started by enthusiasts within university
departments. Such journals depend on the commitment of the early
adopters of the Open Access model. Their sustainability depends
on generating ongoing revenue to meet all the costs associated
with publishing a journal, including staff, technology, marketing,
peer-review and publication. While many are beneficiaries of grant
money, Open Access publishing must develop a wholly sustainable
business model in order to continue operating.
6.3 Both commercial and society publishers
are establishing contingency plans to deal with the threat of
Open Access. While the pace is being made by Open Access enthusiasts
in the academic and library communities, a number of Open Access
initiatives have been announced by society publishers like the
Company of Biologists and by university presses like OUP. The
traditional publishers, be they commercial or non-profit, already
possess the publishing infrastructure. Moreover, they have the
ability to change their business models to Open Access without
reliance on outside funding. If Open Access proves to be a practical
publishing model, it is likely that it will be adopted by existing