By reading any of my content, you may have the impression that I lean a little left. In other words, I’m not one to agree with our current administration. However, Trump’s White House is considering an executive order that would mandate open access for all publications of federally funded research. Some academics, politicians, and publishers are lobbying against open access. I say, why not?
Currently, all federally funded research is embargoed for one year after publication. During the embargo year, articles can be accessed for a fee or via subscription to the journal. Publishers’ main source of profit is institutional subscriptions. Nature charged $6,008.00 for an institutional subscription in 2017, which isn’t too jarring of a price tag, until we consider that Nature Publishing Group offers 80+ journals for subscriptions ranging from $1800 - $7300. Unfortunately, many companies, colleges and universities cannot afford journal subscriptions.
The White House has not confirmed that the open access executive order is being considered; however, publishers are worried. Numerous advocacy groups, think tanks, publishers, and academics are urging the White House to uphold the one-year embargo. Otherwise, the academic publishing industry is facing an upheaval. Critics of the rumored executive order fear the lack of revenue for publishing companies will cause a major loss in publication jobs and an adulteration to the peer review process. On the other hand, supporters believe open access will further scientific research and help instigate reform of the current publication infrastructure .
Here’s why I’m supporting open access:
All things considered, I understand no policy is unequivocally perfect. Open access will absolutely have undesirable consequences. Publishing fees may increase for researchers, and publishing jobs could be lost due to reduced revenue. If open access is approved, the government and the academy must provide solutions to these issues. Federally issued grants can include money allocated specifically for publishing. Furthermore, any open access bill should also incentivize academic institutions to implement their own publishing organization, similar to MIT press. An influx of independent academic publishing agencies will compensate for jobs lost within subscription dependent publishers and, perhaps, improve the current state of academic publishing.