From The Financial Times:
The UK coalition government, desperate to address sluggish growth, is promoting open access publishing, which aims to make peer-refereed journal articles available online at no cost to readers.
The idea is laudable and the principle is supported by academia. But as with all great ideas, the devil is in the detail.
. . . .
Referring to the business and management fields, it is the government’s view that the current arrangements, where libraries pay a subscription fee to journal publishers in return for immediate access to articles by their readers, impede working managers’ access to research findings, thus depriving UK plc from garnering full value from universities’ research.
. . . .
Peer-refereed articles are written for readers with an appropriate degree of technical knowledge, making them inaccessible to the great majority of practising managers. Consequently, peer-refereed journals are unlikely to be found on the bookshelf of executives.
. . . .
Value for money is another consideration – why pay for the funded research a second time through highly priced journal subscriptions? In the case of stem sciences a great deal of research is funded through the public purse. But in the case of business schools, the bulk of research is funded from teaching income and industry donations, hence, the dual payment argument is less relevant. Furthermore, the proposed gold OA simply shifts the burden of payment from the reader to the researcher. Under gold OA, researchers have to find the money from their publicly funded research grants or universities have to find the money to pay for a specific article to be openly available.
Link to the rest at The Financial Times (link may expire)
PG is not an expert on academic business publications, but observes that the widely-known but seldom acknowledged secret of law reviews (the academic publications of American law schools) is that almost no one reads them, particularly practicing lawyers. The reason is that 99% of the articles are terribly written and of possible interest only to a handful of law professors.
He once saw circulation data for a number of well-known law reviews and they were shockingly small.
However, to PG’s knowledge, government funding is not involved in the creation of law review articles as it evidently is for academic business research articles in the UK.
This article appears to be primarily concerned with preserving and prolonging the incestuous, highly-profitable business of publishing specialized professional journals.