Media researcher and publisher Jeff Pooley responds to the European open access initiative, Plan S, outlining the history of the current system of author-paid article processing charges (APCs) and the ways this system perpetuates inequality across the publishing landscape. He proposes an alternative system wherein university libraries shoulder the publishing costs, and describes an economic framework that could make such a solution sustainable for authors, libraries, publishers, and scholarly societies.
Faculty members are increasingly interested in open access publication models. Approximately 64% of the 2018 respondents indicated they would be happy to see the traditional subscription-based publication model replaced entirely by an open access system compared to 57% in 2015. Younger faculty are particularly interested in this pivot; roughly three quarters of faculty ages 22 to 34 agreed with this sentiment compared to less than six in ten faculty ages 65 and older.
In short, we are getting fleeced. The major scientific publishers enjoy profit margins in excess of 30 percent. Such profits are stratospheric, well over the average for every business sector of the Fortune 500. Publishers are getting rich on the backs of underfunded academic libraries and the unpaid labor of academics who serve as editors, reviewers, and authors. That system is unsustainable.
Further reading on Open Access
Open Access by Peter Suber
Publication Date: 2012-07-20
A concise introduction to the basics of open access, describing what it is (and isn't) and showing that it is easy, fast, inexpensive, legal, and beneficial. The Internet lets us share perfect copies of our work with a worldwide audience at virtually no cost. We take advantage of this revolutionary opportunity when we make our work "open access": digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions. Open access is made possible by the Internet and copyright-holder consent, and many authors, musicians, filmmakers, and other creators who depend on royalties are understandably unwilling to give their consent. But for 350 years, scholars have written peer-reviewed journal articles for impact, not for money, and are free to consent to open access without losing revenue. In this concise introduction, Peter Suber tells us what open access is and isn't, how it benefits authors and readers of research, how we pay for it, how it avoids copyright problems, how it has moved from the periphery to the mainstream, and what its future may hold. Distilling a decade of Suber's influential writing and thinking about open access, this is the indispensable book on the subject for researchers, librarians, administrators, funders, publishers, and policy makers.