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The Open Access movement

All of the following is probably better written here.

The open access movement hit the headlines around 2001, when a group of researchers finally decided that enough was enough and launched their own independent journal (also in New Scientist, San Francisco Chronicle etc).

What ?: Records of past scientific works are essential for the advancement of science. These are usually built through publications in peer-reviewed journals. Articles are sent to the editor of a journal of appropriate scope. The editor, in turn, forward the article to one or more `peers', i.e. researchers he estimates able to assess the quality of the paper. For most journals, editors and referees are not paid. Once published, most journals retain exclusive copyright to the material published.

Why ?: Scientific research is mostly funded by governement money, and as discussed above, the review process is free of cost for the publisher. However, access to published articles is at increasingly high costs.
Not only does this restrict diffusion of previous work in the scientific world, it prevents the general public to access the results of research funded with their tax money.

Who ?: A number of scientists have rallied to create their own open access journals. Below are links to a few open access related sites:

The open access model is not necesseraly a non-profit model. It puts the charges on the author(s) rather than the readers, and grants most rights to the latters. Researchers who failed to be convinced by the idealistic side of the issue may note that the cost of a publication in Elsevier has been estimated to $6500 (estimate based on subscription costs), while open journals charge a maximum of $1500 (source:Nature). Why are publishers reluctant ? Because it would certainly reduce their large profit margins !

More news and links related to open access:

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