As Costs For Academic Journals Stay High, Universities Look To Open Access

Erin Hudson | Canadian University Press | October 30, 2012

The high costs to access peer-reviewed research is forcing academics to take a hard look at how scholarly work should be distributed in the future and, so far, the most promising alternative is to post online for free. The average subscription price for a peer-reviewed journal is $1,000 a year but can soar as high as $40,000 — depending on the journal and discipline. In two decades price increases for journal subscriptions has quadrupled that of inflation.

“You can’t cancel journals now — you can only cancel journals if the content is available some other way,” said Stevan Harnad, Canada Research Chair in cognitive science at the Université du Québec à Montréal. For Harnad the other way is open access, a concept where peer-reviewed journal articles are made fully and freely available online.

Open access began to gain momentum in the early 2000s and now supporters organize an annual international week of events, Open Access Week, which acts as a meeting point and forum for access-related initiatives. During the 2012 week, the Quebec conference of principals and rectors — representing 19 post-secondary institutions in the province — announced its support for open access joining several Canadian organizations like the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA)...