Open Access Publications: A Bane or a Boon?
Medical journalism has conventionally relied on paid subscriptions. This is due to the fact that print publications confer substantial costs to the publication agencies which are compensated by financially charging the subscribers. The modern era has witnessed a logarithmic growth of internet, which has transformed multiple disciplines of life, including the healthcare. Most of the peer reviewed medical journals are now available online with a subscription fee.
Perhaps more revolutionary is the growth of online only journals, a relatively new form of peer reviewed publications. This expedites the peer review process, saves print costs, makes it convenient to communicate between the house staff and is easier to access. With the advent of online journalism, open access publications started to surface. Thus, beyond the traditional realms of restricted access, anyone across the globe can access the full version of a peer reviewed with a single click! All you need is an internet connection.
Open access has distinct advantages not conferred by the conventional journalism. It has a greater coverage, easier access, avoids prints, saves costs and is conducive to the environment by decreasing the print of millions of pages annually. The advantages conferred with the open access journalism are reflected in the numbers, the number of articles published in the open access journals almost doubles every year. Several of the high impact journals have also switched to this mode and can now be accessed online without costs. Others have given options to the authors to get their articles available freely without any subscription.
With this background, one wonders why don’t all the journals switch to open access? The answer is that there are certain inherent pitfalls associated with the open access. Publications is not a cost free business model. To recover the charges associated with the publications (for instance to maintain the journal office, to pay the editors, maintain the website) the publication agencies need funds.
These funds are generated from the authors in case of open access publications. This is not an issue when the researches are funded. However, many a times, especially with the authors from the developing countries this is not the case. The authors are then forced to pay from their pocket, resulting in a huge financial burden to the authors.
Another major caveat associated with the open access publications is that the article processing charges are taken when the article is accepted. This gives an “incentive” to the publication agencies to increase the acceptance rate and consequently decrease the quality of published articles. It is frequently seen that the acceptance rate of even the premier open access journals is greater than the top notch peer reviewed journals.
In the present state, it can be concluded that open access model despite several distinct advantages is not the “ideal” form of publications. With the passage of time, it is hoped that efforts will be made to balance the dissemination of research with quality and cost-effectiveness.
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