Open accessResearch is a public enterprise. Its costs are huge and unaffordable for most of the private subjects – with the few exceptions of big companies. Still, access to the outcome of research is defended by severe guardians, i.e., publishing companies, who make profit from exploiting their function of making the product of scientific research available to the scientific community.

I do not see any problem with the fact that a company earns money because of its activity, as every enterprise that improves the quality of its traded good, e.g., knowledge. However, most of the work necessary for the publication of scientific contribuitions is voluntary and unpaid. In particular:

  • Researchers write their papers with the (ideal) goal of extending human knowledge. Their salary is paid by universities and research councils, which are mostly funded by national governments. Publishing houses do not spend one cent to have the objects of their trade.
  • Most of the review work in scientific journals is done by academic peers, who are normally interested into the topic and for the sake of academic prestige. Only a small part of the people who collaborate with a journal is paid for the review process.
  • Text editing (article formatting, proof checking, etc.) is more and more automatised and expected to be done by the very author, which reduces expenses.
  • Scientific journals are more and more sold in digital format so that many costs related to the physical distribution are now avoided.

Despite of this, university libraries’ prices to access journals are increasing, and authors’ access to the very content of their own research is limited by publishing companies. Until when should researchers, who are the real producers, users, and consumers of scientific knowledge, keep tolerating such a system? Until when should national goverments keep paying merely to see their financed research been shared by the scientific community?

Here is the link to a very nice short video on this issue.