Michael E. Hoffer, MD, professor of otolaryngology and neurological surgery at the University of Miami, and his colleagues believe that research discoveries should to be available to all who want to read them.
That’s why they have published several articles through a process known as open access (OA) publishing. In this system, authors submit to journals and, when their work is accepted for publication, the authors pay the journals to be published.
The concept isn’t entirely new—one of the earliest OA journals, PLOS Biology, launched in 2003—but is receiving a larger share of the spotlight as more and more OA journals appear in the academic publishing landscape.
OA publishing is a burgeoning way to push research into the world at a faster rate than through traditional publication. While different publications have varying business models, OA journals can be read by anyone with an Internet connection, and all ask authors to pay for their manuscripts to be published.
Other payment options in OA publishing include costs paid by research funders or, occasionally, costs that are included in society memberships, said Ivan Oransky, MD, vice president and global editorial director of MedPage Today and the co-founder of “Retraction Watch,” a blog that reports on the retraction of scientific papers.
Authors are asked to submit fees when they publish in OA journals. This is a change from traditional publishing, which typically prints on paper and/or online, solicits advertising, and may be accessed by subscriptions that can be costly to obtain. “Open access publishing is the idea that something is free to read,” said Dr. Oransky. “A lot of people early on were concerned that research, particularly federally funded research, was expensive to read, locked up behind paywalls, and slowing down science—not just to the public, but to researchers in the developing world.”
Making content free to users helps further knowledge, and OA publishing is just another means to do that. “Open access benefits all stakeholders: authors, colleagues, universities, research funders, but most importantly, the society and the people,” said Lars Bjørnshauge,
managing director of Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), an online directory that indexes and provides access to peer-reviewed OA content.
He added that the process of OA publication speeds up research dissemination, allows for the replication of research, and benefits industry and innovation. “We are beyond the print age,” he said. “Now, the technologies make [this process] possible.”