Who Pays for Open Access?

Doyle, Helen; Gass, Andy; Kennison, Rebecca R.

In the wake of declarations supporting open access to research literature from international bodies including the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the United Nations' World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), advocates and critics of the movement appear to have agreed that the issue warrants a robust, ongoing dialogue—a development undoubtedly in the interest of the scientific community, regardless of its ultimate outcome. To the extent that listserv messages, editorials, and conference presentations are representative of more widespread reactions to the debate, there appear to be a number of common misconceptions about what open access is and what problems it can or cannot solve. Over the next few months in PLoS Biology, we plan to explore the more pervasive of these misunderstandings, in an effort to expose the real challenges that need to be overcome and to identify some possible solutions. Here we address the first of these—the perception that the publication-charge model puts an unfair burden on authors. Subsequently, we will address concerns about the long-term economic viability of the open-access model, the integrity and quality of work published in open-access journals, and the effect that open access will have on scholarly societies.


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March 10, 2010