The Bloat and Expense of OA

Two island nations see OA differently, and nobody is excited about it

OA has always been built on false pretenses, from its inciting premise — that governments or funders giving grants to researchers bind publishers to some unspoken contract to make those works available at no cost to readers — to its populist rhetoric about lower costs, greater impact, a more informed public, author freedom, and damage to large publishers.

What it has delivered has been the opposite:

  • Governments are paying more than ever to fund publication events, siphoning money away from research budgets
  • Increasing costs across the system
  • Impact repeatedly been shown to be an independent variable with no relationship to access model
  • A public more confused by and diffident about scientific and medical claims, which come at them in droves and with far lower reliability
  • Authors feeling more constrained, so much so that they are fighting for academic freedom in many places
  • Large publishers benefiting from OA, while smaller, independent, and society publishers have been hurt, possibly damaged to the point of no return

In an effort to wade through this mess, we see two divergent approaches:

  1. Japan beginning its move to OA A definite late-adopter, Japan hopes to steer funding devoted to institutional repositories to support OA posting of papers
  2. Oxford University calling for REF29 to drop OA requirements Burned by prior OA approaches, the authors argue that OA adds bureaucratic burdens, expenses, and opportunity costs, while delivering little to no value

This post is for paying subscribers only

Already have an account? Sign in.

Subscribe to The Geyser

Don’t miss out on the latest issues. Sign up now to get access to the library of members-only issues.