The Argument for Open Access
Publishing as a graduate student is already hard enough: Steeling yourself for inevitable rejection, bolstering yourself to submit again, and, of course, deciding where to submit in the first place. Unfortunately, deciding which journals to submit to is not getting less complicated; it is getting more complicated. In addition to variables such as journal readership, identity, prestige, and rejection rate, you must now consider whether a journal is open access (i.e., whether a journal makes its articles freely available to the public).
For the past several years, academics and academic journals have been having a conversation about who should be able to access scholarly writing and for what price. Here is a rundown of both sides of the discussion.
Academic journals argue that they add value to the scholarly publication process.
- High submission rejection rates and the peer review process help to ensure the quality of the scholarship that is ultimately published.
- Editorial review helps to ensure that scholarship is clear, concise, and targeted.
Academics argue that the most basic principle of academia is the sharing of scholarship and that academic journals impede that aim by hiding scholarship behind a pay wall that is much too high.
- So many journals now exist, that even the best research institutions cannot afford to subscribe to them all.
- Articles and peer review are provided to the journals for free, and the journals have high profit margins while still charging libraries and individuals high subscription fees.
- Much off the research that is hidden behind these paywalls is publically funded through taxes, but it is not available to the public.