“Open Access” journals are all the rage these days. The idea which, on the surface is a worthy one, is that readers get access to the papers for free. Instead of making money via subscriptions, these journals get their money by charging the authors. Now, many people seem to think that’s just fine. Mostly, they are academics who have grant money or some other means for paying the fees. For them, it’s just part of the job.
As a result, they don’t think about the real implications of this turn around:
When readers pay, the content must be something they want to read (i.e. it has to be worth paying for).
When authors pay, it doesn’t matter whether the content is any good or not.
I’ve seen fees of up to £6,000. For a paper. I don’t have a grant. If I want to publish in one of these journals, I have to pay out of my own pocket. I’m not about to do that. That means people like me can’t publish in these journals. Our voices won’t be heard. But that isn’t the only problem. THIS is the much more serious problem, because it has implications for the entire future of research:
To authors who cannot afford a full payment of the fee, we may offer partial or total fee waivers on the sole condition that the papers they submit be of high quality. Article Processing Charges for Low and Lower Middle Income Countries are calculated according to the SCIRP Global Participation Initiative.
So, if you HAVE the money, the article DOESN’T have to be of high quality?!
That is something that’s going to happen more and more.
Not only that, unfunded researchers have no way to get their works published. Yes, yes I know that anyone can publish stuff on a blog. But whether we like it or not, credentials still matter (as they should). Reputation matters. Still. Publishing in a respected venue says something about the author.