Research Bought, Then Paid For and the next is Open Science: why is it so hard? The two articles are a different take on the idea that scientific findings should be open for everyone. Someone who is outside the scientific community might think that statement is silly. Of course science is open. No one has a copyright or a monopoly on scientific or mathematical discoveries. Yet that is not the real issue. The real issue is the access to those scientific discoveries. In some cases the scientific discoveries are paid for by public subsidies.
The main focus of those two articles is that science has been hijacked by the publishers. The articles even go so far as saying the hijacking is a monopoly of sorts. I think monopoly is too strong of an analogy but the publishers do have a lot of control. The control is mostly about access to the science. The publishers own the copyright and can limit access to anyone unless a fee is paid. A lot of the times these fees are rather high. Now it looks like with the Research Works Act the access to publicly funded scientific research will be limited as well. Access to the science is the crux of the debate.
Academics rely on publishing of their scientific findings for further funding of their research. It is part of the academic circle of life. Publishing begets more funding which begets more publishing and the cycle continues. I do believe academic community deserves to get compensated for their research. I'm not sure how much residual income they get other than peer review notoriety from their published content. Publishers seem, again, to have a lot of the control.
I am not an academic researcher. My work is trying to help organizations better themselves by using the learning, skills, and knowledge I have acquired through the years as an Operations Research professional. I try to keep up to date on the latest research and methods by studying journals, networking with colleagues, and reading articles. I rely on scientific access quite a bit in staying up to date with the latest findings. I rely on the academic community so I can improve my knowledge and skills. Yet it seems very difficult for my to gain access to a lot of good research. There has to be a common ground for access to the science. I wish I had a simple solution to this issue but it seems very large and very complicated. There are a lot of interactions that I am sure I am glossing over. Yet I am a big fan of the idea of Open Science.
There are some publishers that do understand this problem. INFORMS seems to get this issue rather well. They do not charge a lot for their journals. In fact as part of membership INFORMS allows two free subscriptions to any journal of your choosing. In addition to that the PubsOnLine Suite is available for $99 which is 12 journals for a whole year. That is a bargain compared to some other publishers. So not all publishers are pure evil. There are some good ones.