Open access journals and the schemes and the systems associated with this open-access model are becoming an increasingly popular and attractive avenue for researchers to get work published. This paradigm has come into existence, ostensibly, to allow authors to more easily publish research that may be relatively novel or experimental in nature, and to facilitate readers’ ease of access to the literature.
A well-known concern is the contribution of the open access model to the proliferation of predatory journals using unscrupulous means to extract profits from (unsuspecting) paying authors. They wear the guise of legitimacy while engaging in deceptive practices such as using fake editors, or listing editorial board members who are unaffiliated, in order to attract submissions all while having no genuine peer review process.
There has been less attention paid, however, to the potential detriment that the model as a whole, including the participation of legitimate journals, may have on the academic publishing ecosystem. Some have argued that the transformation of the authors into the paying customers in contrast to traditional models where the readers (consumers) play that role, introduces perverse incentives where the needs of the readership take secondary importance. In addition, there are also concerns about the role that open access may play in excluding those researchers who are relatively underfunded.
While open access certainly has its place, it is necessary to scrutinize its implementation with more discernment, given the potential for unintended, and potentially harmful, consequences for both authors and readers.
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