The Backlash Against OA Builds

More cracks are appearing in the walls of OA ideology — but will reason ultimately prevail?

The Backlash Against OA Builds

A theme of 2023 so far on the OA front seems to be, “This is not going well.” From the Wiley-Hindawi debacle to the lingering suspicions that all is not right at MDPI to the breakthrough discord at eLife to the realization that OA publishing is going to centralize costs at research universities — the squeaky wheels that started much of this — to the persistent and embarrassing rash of predatory publishers and preprint abuses, the ideals of OA have become grotesques, to invoke Sherwood Anderson (no known relation).

A recent tweet from an editor, and an observer of scholarly publishing trends, brings the point home:

I would quibble with the notion that the politicians involved in invoking OA were “well-meaning,” as some have been notoriously vindictive against publishers, societies, and authority, especially commercial publishers and junior editors, and saw OA as a way to strip both of their power. Others have had questionable ties to OA publishers known for strong-arm tactics. Of course, whatever the level of revenge and greed motivating the move to OA mandates, it has backfired spectacularly, as commercial publishers are more dominant than ever, while outsourced editorial decision-making (when it occurs — see “preprints”) has made everyone less accountable (the roster of “editors” for many OA mega-journals is simply dizzying).

The questions and incipient regrets are starting to mount.