Hard Evidence: Is Open Access Working?

Ernesto Priego | The Conversation | October 23, 2013

According to Peter Suber open access is academic literature which is “digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions". Open access delivered by journals is called “gold” open access and open access delivered by repositories is called “green” open access. Most academic literature is not open access. And in recent years there has been a growing open access movement to remove paywalls, which are put up by journal publishers.

It remains difficult to be certain of the exact amount of academic research sitting behind paywalls, but the toll-access model still dominates. Although many funders, including various governments, are attempting to bring about an open access revolution, we will remain in a period of transition for many years to come. During this time, a mix of open access and traditional subscription models will operate side-by-side.

During the transition, many publishers of toll-access journals are also offering open access options through a business model in which the author, not the reader, pays. Authors or their institutions pay the journal after an article has been accepted to publish a piece of work so that it can be made accessible to any reader without cost. But is this gold model working and if so, who is it working for?