Open access is about open access, not journals

Just do it yourself

Note: this post was originally written by David Ketcheson.

In October, Science Magazine conducted a survey regarding open access. Among the questions:

  • How important is it for scientific papers to be freely accessible to the public?
  • Of the papers that you published in the last 3 years, what percentage did you submit to fully open access journals?

72% replied “extremely important” to the first question, while only 58% indicated they had submitted any paper to an open access journal. Does this mean that scientists are not acting in agreement with their own principles?


It may shock the editors of Science, but the open access movement is not about changing the funding model for academic publishers.

Open access means that research results can be read by anyone, for free.

Scientists can accomplish that without any help from publishers. The fact is that most scientists don’t view open access journals as the best way to make their work accessible. Another question from the Science survey asked

  • Which options for making papers freely available do you prefer?

The most common answer (66%) was “Immediate access through a repository, such as PubMedCentral or Arxiv, or on an author’s web site”.

This is quick and painless. It is allowed by an overwhelming majority of publishers. It requires no mandates from governments or universities. It requires no extra funding. Anyone can do it, and every scientist who cares a whit about open access already has done it.

If someone tells you that we need governments or publishers to intervene to make open access possible, you can be sure that his agenda is something other than open access. The only obstacle left is our own apathy.

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