Open for business: Problems facing open access scientific publishing

Open access publishing has increased global access to scientific knowledge, which most would agree benefits humanity. However, the open access movement has been accused of having some negative impacts on the scientific publishing landscape. A clear understanding of these specific criticisms (outlined below, and which builds upon a previous SPE blog post) is necessary for scientists and policy makers to develop solutions.

“It’s too expensive and wastes research funds”

Plotted values based on Table 4 in Zhang et al. 2022.
Journal categories, partitioned by openness and economic model. From Racimo et al. 2022 (CC BY 4.0 license).

What should be done?

These critiques are all valid, but it is important to realize that they do not apply to all open access journals. There are many different open access models, including journals run by scientific societies and non-profits (see figure above). There are also a growing number of diamond open access journals, which means that they are free for both authors and readers. If researchers shift to publishing in these journals, then these issues could be avoided. How can a systemic change like this be performed? It won’t be easy, but stay tuned for future SPE pieces on this topic.



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Science & Policy Exchange

Science & Policy Exchange


A student-run non-profit that works to foster the student voice in science policy and evidence-informed policy-making in Canada. Based in Montreal.