Lysistrata
Photograph of Gertrude Kingston in Lysistrata (1910)

There is no question that when discussing the charged debate around open access, it is more or less impossible to tread a line of moderation. To discuss open access at all lands you on one side of an argument. There are times when I laugh and wonder what Lysistrata would have made of this. Perhaps we can only broker peace through withholding something, and in that way show how ridiculous this situation is.

Thinking of Lysistrata makes me grin, thinking about how academics can be heard amidst all the posturing of the rest of the stakeholders, be they funders, SPARC, Libraries, Institutions, Publishers, or Societies. The analogy clearly has its limitations, and withholding sexual favors is not likely to be the most effective strategy for ensuring that academics’ voices are recognized.

I must admit to being rather tired of the fundamentalism that pervades discussions around open access policies and business models. On the one hand there are the advocates, and through the laws of conservation of energy, the equal and opposite reaction of anti-open access advocacy. There seems little room for rational debate about open access in the midst of such an antagonistic atmosphere.

We really need to take a step back from the debate and collaborate to innovate, understanding what open access business models really represent in the marketplace, with special reference to the researcher, who after all is the author of a published article.

What is it that we actually know?

We know that the market for research information (depending on your discipline) is set up through a web of funding agencies and institutional funds. In mathematics, for example, there is NSF funding, but you would be surprised at the number of top-flight mathematicians who work at the top of their field and do so from community colleges without significant funding.

We know that at least in the USA, funding for research is flat if not reducing, leaving academics feeling unloved and discouraged as they are forced to fight among themselves for available resources.

We know that libraries sit in the middle, squeezed on all sides. They see increases in the volume of academic literature. They see demand for literature from the academic communities they serve. They see budget declines and are set up in natural opposition to an economics version of the no-carb diet.

We know that institutions are operating under enormous pressures to maintain their fiscal integrity, while at the same time supporting the information needs of students, researchers, and the institutional brand.

We know that commercial publishers, in their 1980’s feeding frenzy of easy profits, have left a taste of mistrust in almost everyone, yet there is a tacit realization that despite everything, their innovations and their sheer scale and power have actually enabled research to thrive, and made content more available.

Although societies are arguably perhaps best placed to hold the academic’s agenda closest to heart, there are natural conflicts of interest built into a society’s mission. On the on hand a society must serve the needs of their membership. But to do this resources are needed, and for many this means being a publisher. Many societies are being squeezed, perhaps even more so than libraries, by the might and sheer scale (e.g., the ‘Big Deal’) of the commercial publishers.

We do know that a researcher cares about quality – of peer review, copy-editing, publishing alongside respected peers, and perhaps most of all citation.

There are now a range of options for delivering papers to the reading public and there is not space here to list them all, so here is a sample. An author may publish their article in a journal that is owned and operated by a publisher or academic society, which requires transfer of copyright to the publisher, or — as is often the case — an exclusive license to publish. These journals may be delivered by subscription to institutions, which then make the content available to all their stakeholders within their institution. Some journals will offer the journal as a subscription, but also accept fees from the author to make the article freely available, while still sitting within a library subscription holding. This is the hybrid option, and quite understandably runs the risk of being seen as double dipping by the paying customer – the library. Another option is for authors to have their paper made available through a journal that has a subscription business model, but then after a period of time (and in some cases the payment of a fee by the author), the article is made freely available. A further business model is for an author to pay a fee and have their work made freely available in a journal that purely relies on the author fees as a business model.

In addition, governments, funding agencies, and institutions all influence what their researchers may or may not do; thus, the landscape for any researcher in any discipline is, to say the least, confusing. Am I required by my funder to make my work freely available? When does this need to happen? Should I pay the significant fees I am being asked for to publish my paper open access, and if so where do I find those funds? From my funder? From my institution? Or, from my own pocket? Does my institution require me to post my article in their freely available repository? If so, which version of my paper should I put there?

As a researcher, these aspects of the publishing process are confusing. Institutions, funders, publishers, societies and government agencies are crossing swords. Then there are commercial organizations such as ResearchGate with their constant and ethically dubious entreaties to researchers to share their work. All the while, the researcher is left wondering how they can best and affordably publish their work for maximum recognition.

The real debate here is to understand more about the motivations and needs of a researcher, who may or may not be funded directly. What is the best business model that will allow a researcher to publish work effectively and allow readers access to that work?

At present we are focused almost entirely on one model that essentially requires an author to find funding for their article through one means or another. Open access in itself is not really something we should be arguing about. Of course we want open access. What we also want is to find a business model that is sustainable. If one assumes that there is value added to the article by all the stakeholders that surround a researcher, be it in the publication process or providing access, then how do we allow for maximum access at a reasonable cost that reflects the reality of the publication process?

Let’s spend our time thinking through a range of open access models, experimenting and refining, rather than forcing ourselves down the road of policy mandates that potentially discourage innovation.

The real story here is that the rights and desires of academics are being represented by organizations that do not reflect their needs, and that perhaps do not even understanding them. There is a form of fundamentalism that dictates to academics that this is what you need; just let us lead the way and we will make things right for you.

So, where is the middle ground in all this? I would suggest that there is nothing fundamentally wrong with a subscription model. In fact, look throughout media and you find successful business models based on subscription. In fact, a subscription to, say, Spotify is the new way to listen to music rather than individual purchases through iTunes.

So this is not about whether open access is a good or bad, or whether the subscription model hinders availability. There is no need to destroy what we have, and force stakeholders such as publishers and societies into a place where there backs are up against a wall, or squeeze libraries into a role where they are unable to act without sufficient funds.

This is a time to innovate and be flexible.

Libraries have an advocacy role to play. Libraries could look at subscriptions to content outside of the big deal first and foremost. Let it be advantageous to the market to break up the big deals and receive competitive pricing from society publishers, whether they are independent or tied to a commercial publisher. We know there is money in the pool, but rather than having sales be driven by scale, let’s reach a more market led approach of real need, nuanced by the variance in academic communities from anthropologists, to mathematicians to cardiology.

Publishers need to fully embrace the notion that while their content is in demand, both in terms of an author base and reader base, we need an effective business model that does not over tax the system.

On the one hand this is not about open access; on the other we should accept open access as a part of the fabric of publishing. Let’s move on to developing sustainable business models that promote the communication of science more effectively across all stakeholders.

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Robert Harington

Robert Harington

Robert Harington is Associate Executive Director, Publishing at the American Mathematical Society (AMS). Robert has the overall responsibility for publishing at the AMS, including books, journals and electronic products.

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Discussion

27 Thoughts on "Open Access: Fundamentals to Fundamentalists"

On the whole, I strongly agree with these sentiments. What I would like to add is that besides considering the motivations and needs of researchers, we should maybe also think about what we want the researcher’s motivations for publishing to be. It will always be the case that scientists who want to publish are to some extent driven by the need for enhancing one’s own career, but should we let that be the overriding reason for why we have scientific publishing? Should we allow the dominating raison d’être for science publishing to become an instrument for assessment of researchers or institutions? I think not, and would like to have in mind when I think about possible business models, that I would like to maintain that one of the main reasons for scholarly publishing should simply be diffusion of knowledge. In any business model, it is normal that it is the user who pays. But in this case, who is the user and who is the provider; the writer or the reader? There is no simple answer to that question, but if the chosen business model can help us to maintain a balance, we should consider it.

The unhappy fact is that in the US and UK the OA policy ship has sailed and the need now is to steer it. The issue is mandates not models. The US Public Access program has been proceeding in secrecy (sadly) but it will soon break upon us, probably in the form of proposed plans or rule makings by up to 20 different agencies, including NSF. The community needs to prepare for this looming policy wave. This is not to say that addressing the broader issues is wrong, just that it may not be the top immediate need. The debate is about to become far less academic.

This is a long one, fasten your seatbelts …

I must admit to being rather tired of the fundamentalism that pervades discussions around open access policies and business models. On the one hand there are the advocates, and through the laws of conservation of energy, the equal and opposite reaction of anti-open access advocacy. There seems little room for rational debate about open access in the midst of such an antagonistic atmosphere.

It’s always a powerful rhetorical move to call your opponent a fundamentalist. It’s also a lazy one. It absolves you from the tedious responsibility of bothering to understand what the opponent actually wants: just dismiss him has a fundamentalist and call it done. I’d hope we’re better than that. At best, this seems like a fine demonstration of the principle that “there seems little room for rational debate about open access in the midst of such an antagonistic atmosphere”.

You want a rational debate? You want to talk about fundamentals? Fine, let’s do that. Here is the most fundamental question of all: what is research for? Our answer to this will profoundly affect every stance we adopt regarding publishing, OA, researcher evalution and more.

The greatest problem we have in discussing these issues is when person A assumes right off the bat that person B has the same answer to that fundamental question, and is then surprised to find that B disagrees over numerous implementation details. All those details flow from the fundamental mismatch. A and B are literally trying to solve two different problems — no wonder they can’t agree on the solution!

So what is research for? Here are three possible answers.

A. Some people believe (or maybe I should say assume) that research is for the world — for the betterment of the lot of society as a whole, the eradication of illness, the understanding of the environment, and generally the benefit of humanity. As pleasant side-effects, it also feeds publishing businesses and advances researchers’ careers.

B. Some people believe (or assume) that research is primarily for the benefit of the economy: that the principle purpose of the whole process is the financial benefit that accrues to publishers and related professions. As pleasant side-effects, it also advances the world’s knowledge and advances researchers’ careers.

C. Some people believe (or assume, or at least give the impression of assuming) that research is mostly about the careers of researchers — about giving them a way to prove their merit and advance up the career ladder. As pleasant side-effects, it also advances the world’s knowledge and feeds publishing businesses.

All of these fundamental positions exist. (There may be others that I missed.) We could probably all classify various individuals into these groups (but I’ll resist the tempation to throw in examples, as that would surely result in an epic sidetrack).

Notice that one can’t reach one of these three positions by any amount of thought about what happens within the research/publication ecosystem. It’s more fundamental than that. That decision has to come from somewhere outside. For example, my own position is no secret: I am an “A”, and the reason is because I feel it follows from the Golden Rule (“Do to others as you would have them do to you”, Luke 6:31) — probably the most universally agreed principle in any religion (and among those who profess none).

And so when Robert Harrington asks:

The real debate here is to understand more about the motivations and needs of a researcher, who may or may not be funded directly. What is the best business model that will allow a researcher to publish work effectively and allow readers access to that work?

That is really two (maybe three) quite separate questions that may have completely different answers: 1, what business model will allow a researcher to publish work effectively?; and 2, what business model will allow readers access to that work? If you are an “A”, you’ll care most about the second question; if you’re a “C” you’ll care about the first question; and if you’re a “B” you might still be thinking about the business model mentioned at the start of the question.

It’s fruitless to expect “A”s, “B”c and “C”s to agree on an answer to a question when each group is hearing a different question.

Here’s another example:

The real story here is that the rights and desires of academics are being represented by organizations that do not reflect their needs, and that perhaps do not even understanding them. There is a form of fundamentalism that dictates to academics that this is what you need; just let us lead the way and we will make things right for you.

This statement suggests a “C” mindset: that the rights and desires of researchers are paramount. But if the organisations in question are “A”s (as for example you’d expect the Alliance for Taxpayer Access or RCUK to be), then this complaint is a non-issue. Of course they don’t reflect researchers’ desires — that’s not what they’re there for. They reflect the needs of broader society (which are often aligned with those of researchers, but by no means always).

That’s not a bug. That’s a feature.

And similarly:

I would suggest that there is nothing fundamentally wrong with a subscription model.

This may be true for “B”s (who might prefer the subscription model because they think it yields the most revenue) and for “C”s (who might want to place their work in a specific paywalled journal that is well regarded in their field). But it’s much less likely for “A”s, who see great public benefit in free access, and conversely great harm in arbitrary barriers.

So there you go. Fundamentals.

I do not think anyone believes B or C when it comes to the purpose of research, per se. However B and C are important aspects of the system, which must be taken seriously. The purpose of research is not where the issues are. By the same token it is not clear that there is a middle ground. It is not that kind of problem. But I see lots of rational debate (including this exchange) so I do not share the complaint. Policy debates have a specific nature.

One might argue that B is a primary reason why governments fund research programs. I think Mike is off in his perspective in this scenario, as the publishing industry is only a tiny drop in the ocean in terms of economic gain that comes from research. According to one source (http://www.b-d30.org/), 30% of the NASDAQ stock market’s value is rooted in university-based, federally funded research. Research contributes strongly to a nation’s economic health.

I took B to be defined by the colon phrase, that is the economic well being of publishers and related professions. The economic well being of society falls under A.

Ah, I see, makes sense now in terms of parsing. I think they’re separable though. The goal of increasing quality of life is different from increasing a nation’s economic gain (free medicine for all versus taxable profits from an expensive drug via a pharma company). But as noted, the economics of scholarly publishing are a pretty small part of the economic landscape of the overall research world.

That was indeed what I had in mind when I wrote the comment; but there’s no reason to think those categories are an exhaustive partition of all possible stances. There could be an “economic wellbeing of this particular country” category, a “profits of this specific publisher” category, and many more.

My point was just that we all start out with very different presuppositions of what utility function we’re trying to optimise for.

Mike, I’m not clear on the specific point you’re making here. You tell the author he’s being lazy by labeling people “fundamentalists” then you set up three sets of beliefs and declare your fundamentalism for one of them. I thought one of the points of this piece was to see the forest for the trees, to realize all these positions you note (and more) exist, and that dogmatic approaches where the needs of only one group are recognized should be avoided.

Your position as a part-time scientist, someone who does research in their spare time rather than for a living, offers you a different set of priorities and motivations than that of the average career scientist. You might lean more toward C if it was the primary way you feed your family. You have a rare luxury of being able to take an extreme position because you are free from the economic pressures faced by others. Most people are going to have a mix of reasons for doing/funding research, and most have a mix of needs from scholarly publishing.

Similarly, if I’m the head of the NSF and I have to justify my budget to Congress, then pointing toward economic gain from research (B) becomes my priority.

Which to me seems to call for a mixed response, a variety of approaches that best suit the needs of different constituencies, along with continuing experimentation. Is that something with which you agree or must the rest of the world bend to your priority?

Well, I am also A, but I am not all so certain that the subscription model is bad for A. I think it is in principle right in a market economy that the consumer pays, and I think that the demand from these consumer can drive the market in the right direction. If libraries and individuals are willing to pay for subscriptions, they will tend to go to the ones that publishes the best science.

On the other hand, if one has the point of view C, the whole point of scientific publishing is essentially assessment of research careers. In that case, the scientist who wants to publish is actually the consumer, and it is reasonable that it is he who pays. For such scientist in C-world, a subscription model may be awkward. It gives him less control.

It may not be quite so easy as to decide whether the rationale for science is A, B or C, and to then chose business model. There will always be researches who, whatever they say publicly, will act according to B or C, rather than along the idealistic path of A. It is possible that by the choice of business model, we may be able to steer the scientific world more in the A-direction, and in that case I tend to think that subscription models are not that bad.

Thanks for this. I have to say you sort of prove the point. I am no opponent of either position, so the word “opponent” is irrelevant here. In fact, I think open access is here to stay, and as we are all discovering, a worthy model, but then so is the subscription model – in the right contexts. Still, let’s drop antagonistic stances at the door.

When one knows where the author of this piece comes from, it is understandable why he talks about open access only as it affects journal publishing. But the discussion has long since moved beyond just journals to books. And Mr. Harington has nothing to say about books. Why not? I started writing about issues of open access for books back in the early 1990s. I drafted the AAUP Statement on Open Access specifically to steer the conversation more toward books. As it happens, an understanding of the subscription model is crucial for understanding how open access applies to books now, as Project Muse, JSTOR, etc. are using that as the principal model for selling ebooks to libraries. So let’s, please, not ignore an entire sector of publishing when we talk about open access and how to make it work.

As for experimentation, there has been plenty of it now on the book side. Among AAUP member presses the National Academies Press led the way by posting its books open access starting in the mid-1990s. We emulated the NAP model at Penn State Press with a monograph series in Romance srudies in 2005. Amherst College has just launched a new press to do OA monograph publishing in the humanities.

I also reject the either/or assumption of this article. I have been a strong advocate of OA for many years within the university press community, but I also have been among the staunchest of defenders of copyright in the industry, serving on the copyright committees of the AAUP and AAP since the early 1970s and on the board of directors of the CCC since the early 1990s. I see no conflict between the two positions. My defense of copyright is purely contingent: copyright is important to support the economic basis of scholarly publishing as it currently exists (where universities requires their presses to recover 90% of their operating costs from sales), but if ways can be found to fund OA as an alternative viable strategy that is sustainable long term, I have no problem ceasing my work to defend copyright; it will then remain important for individual authors (to ensure against plagiarism and the like) but not for publishers.

arguably (which seems a fun pastime, at least on this topic), the polarity of A v. B on this issue (and its subtopics) is stoked by opposing groups.

speaking of the use of rhetoric to advance one’s position, this reminds me of my professional relationship in the 90s with a paramilitary org’n, who mission in large part was to bait its idealistic and vulnerable supporters (and potential supporters) using la lucha continúa (the struggle continues) and a sense of ‘morality’ – not in finding or negotiating a compromise or solution, but in holding fast to a position (economic, social, or political climate be damned!) and romanticizing the struggle, and refusing to look at data indicating that the majority population would rather reach a compromise.

but, as reagan once said in a 1988 address, facts are stupid things! (he meant, facts are stubborn things, and quickly corrected himself, but his slip is interesting to ponder.).

as both a pragmatist and an idealist (with a background working in academic libraries, scholarly societies, scientific publishing, and conflict photography) who’d rather discuss ways to achieve a working reality and understanding for scientific researchers and publishers alike, my sense is that very few ‘at both ends’ are committed to having a balanced discussion on these issues (balance is so boring if you fancy yourself a game-changer, radical, on the ‘right’ side, disruptive, whatever term you care to use – i do agree that fundamentalist has negative connotations and is a bit of a lightening rod).

both robert and mike make salient points, and i enjoyed reading their pieces.

but to hear OA supporters (of which i am, as long as it’s fiscally and intellectually sustainable) equate access (to scientific research outputs) with morality and, with no exceptions or pragmatic considerations, the ‘right thing to do’ (ahem, you know who you are!), or religion (which, arguably, is and always has been divisive) is one of the most fundamentalist tactics of all!

if you want to talk about the golden rule and its universal acceptance among religions (really? perhaps we need an expert here, because i think there are few religions of substantial population that may not accept this at truth…), i’d posit that a separate discussion and venue is in order.

do unto others, to me at least, implies first a deep understanding where both you and the ‘other’ are coming from – sympathy, empathy, self-awareness – not polarization. many of my close friends and colleagues (who would, as the trite saying goes, take the shirt of their backs for me), refuse to relent from their ‘position’ of X is the “right” thing to do. period. no discussion. OA is (or becomes or is turned into) a moral argument for some, which (as one observes in many types of conflicts, whether political, religious, economic) is not open for compromise.

as to government or other organizations representing the needs of ‘a broader society’ – again, that’s another topic. a nice ideal in a mission statement, to be sure, but i think, again, open for discussion, depending on the organization. had many close interactions with these folks? worked at one of those organizations? the devil is in the details (trite but true) – and to learn more about the details, follow the money (which is scarce, and the competition for which is fierce) – or as i like to say, the Form 990.

anyone’s refusal to acknowledge the complexities inherent in a complex situation, whether economic, social, scientific, sounds pretty fundamentalist to me.

for some examples of effective moral politics, read linguist and cognitive scientist George Lakoff’s ‘Don’t Think of an Elephant’ – which eloquently describes the ways in which political parties (could be applied to many opposing groups) use language to sell their position to supporters, and for whom ambivalence or compromise reeks of selling out.

Thank you Tracey, a fascinating comment. I do agree with your thoughts here which are eloquently expressed.

thanks, robert, for a thoughtful piece. it’s also good to hear your point-of-view as a mathematician and aed for publishing (so often, this conversation is dominated by the biological sciences) at a society that represents a significant number of members. hope to meet you sometime and compare notes! i’ve got some survey data you might find interesting.

This is all well and good, but advocacy and moral argument are central to public policy decision making, especially in democracies. There are good reasons for this; it is not an accident or something to be avoided.

David, I agree with your overarching sentiment about these freedoms inherent in a democracy. As a publisher, I have followed with interest your own advocacy and position on OA, and well-thought-out discussion of CHORUS.

Advocacy (supported by data) may lead to positive outcomes; advocacy (supported primarily by rhetoric, fear and emotion, which I think you’ve covered effectively in your past writings and activities concerning climate change), is perhaps more dangerous in terms of leading to outcomes based on facts.

I don’t suggest that debate should be avoided or quashed; sound discussion is useful, and in science (at least the kind of science I’m privileged to be a part of), disagreements are often the impetus for collaborations or discoveries, and debate is encouraged.

Rather, I sought to emphasize that the ability of individuals to consider other points of view – and even to be self-aware enough to allow one’s own fervor to be dampened in the face of new information – is critical not just for a democracy but for a thinking, agile society. We’ve certainly seen how effective a ‘digging-your-heels-in-no-compromise’ approach has worked in Congress over these past years.

In any event, I’m no policy expert or lobbyist for sure, and I was not attempting to address the complexities of public policy debate and the place of advocacy, tho crafting (or even advocating for and strongly endorsing) public policy seems no place for the naive, the uninformed, or the easily-led-by-rhetoric.

My intention, perhaps stated less clearly than I ought to have, centered more around Robert Harington’s post and Mike Taylor’s response – the central topics of which did not include the process of public policy discussions.

My post was geared toward the ideas of using (or allowing) language, emotion, and moral argument as a manipulative tool or even a lightning rod to polarize, prevent dialogue, and, in some cases, to encourage gridlock. To talk about this more than I already have here would be a lengthy-and-likely-unread-piece, or a good discussion over a beer!

Thank you for the kind words, Tracey. In fact I am only here because the scholarly publishing community is about to be engulfed by US Public Policy, and the latter is my field of interest. I have tracked a dozen or more industries through this painful exercise, so I feel that I have possibly useful advice to offer. And I also tend to be a pro industry activist, which is a separate job. This sometimes confuses people, my analysis versus my activism.

My basic point is that the policy realm is one of adversarial reasoning. The highest example is the trial, but legislation and regulation follow the same rules. The basic law is that one makes the strongest case one can, then the jury decides. It is the jury, judge, congress, the regulator, etc., that compromises, not the advocates. It is important to get the model right.

As for the broader issues, I have yet to see people manipulated by language and/or emotion, although logically strong language and deep resolve are essential elements. Manipulation is an argument that each side tends to make about the other, what I call a symmetric slur. I find very little irrationality in major policy debates, although it is frequently alleged, but lots of complexity.

There is something that I call the Lockean fallacy, which is the idea that different people looking at the same evidence should come to the same conclusion. That is a seriously false theory of reasoning. In fact the weight of evidence is an objective function of everything one believes, so it varies greatly from person to person. Generally speaking your opponent is neither stupid nor crazy, they are just your rational opponent. This is surprisingly hard for people to accept.

How social decision systems work via adversarial advocacy is the interesting question. It is often the essential process, especially in public policy.

thanks david! i think i can learn quite a bit about public policy (and process) debates from you! v. glad you’re on the publisher’s side as we navigate these uncertain waters.

agree wholeheartedly with: “How social decision systems work via adversarial advocacy is the interesting question.”

re: broader issues and people manipulated by language and/or emotion (*outside of major policy debates*/i am no public policy nor rational justification/epistemology expert)…..if you haven’t already read these, you may find interesting a few case studies detailed by george lakoff. more current is konnikova’s recent new yorker blog describing false beliefs and how they may be corrected (or not), including research by dartmouth’s Nyhan et al. 2014 (Pediatrics) on messaging in vaccine promotion, and the growing raw-milk movement. of course just anecdotes, tho interesting social psychology that may be useful in all of efforts to engage in productive debate and making stronger cases for the issues we support.

perhaps naively, i think many stakeholders in scholarly publishing didn’t initially think the issue or debate over access to scientific research and OA (and all its complexities) was going to evolve into US and UK policy mandates. i’d love to see a comprehensive, scholarly piece written on the trajectory of how modern movements around access and OA went from ideology to policy, and how advocacy has influenced policy, maybe starting in the 90s with arXiv, SPARC, PMC.

let’s talk in person sometime!

As an academic who has been following this debate, I have never quite understood how I am supposed to pay for publishing in an OA journal (most of which, incidentally, appear to be scams at this particular point in time, based on the emails I get). I am not all all opposed to OA – personally, I want as many people as possible to read my articles, and I don’t much care how that happens. (And not just because I want to promote my career, but because I think it will genuinely benefit the wider community.)

I work in the social sciences, at a poorly funded public university. My subject area is not awash with funds. Indeed, for one particular strand of my work, which I believe is especially vauable, there is virtually no grant funding available. In short, I could not fund publication myself. I assume the alternative would be that the university pays for it, but given the scarcity of funds, and the intense wrangling that takes place over whatever funds there are, I find it hard to imagine an allocation process that wouldn’t leave junior faculty disadvantaged. The debate seems to presuppose that all academics are producing knowledge funded by the government, so that the argument that it’s knowledge that has already been paid for may perhaps have credence for those whose work is indeed funded that way – but not for the rest of us. I’m sure I’m missing something here, but it seems that OA supports an even more careerist model of academia – that I, the researcher, benefit from publication, therefore I should pay.

As a newly tenured faculty member, it particularly concerns me that will make even harder for junior faculty members to publish, and therefore advance in their careers. Who does that benefit?

1)
“how I am supposed to pay for publishing in an OA journal”

Most OA journals are actually free to publish in.

2)
“(most of which, incidentally, appear to be scams at this particular point in time, based on the emails I get)”

This is selection bias: the scammy ones (which do all charge money) have to trawl for submissions, the quality ones don’t have to ask people to submit, much like traditional journals don’t ask people to submit – their quality is recognised. These latter may or may not charge a fee, but see point 1.

I don’t know of any OA journals that are free to publish in (and I am aware of many that do charge, with the lowest fees being several hundred dollars up to many thousands of dollars). Could you provide some specific examples of journals you have in mind?

The Electronic Journal of Combinatorics (one of the earliest examples of an OA journal) comes to mind immediately: http://www.combinatorics.org
With a little effort I could produce at least a half-dozen others in math, but obviously this will vary from field to field.

one needs to consider the fact that the funding for most of the research facilities comes from the tax dollars and tax exemptions are provided to many a vital drugs….i.e. their makers

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