I should start saying Mea Culpa; I did published about OER in a non Open Access Journal and I totally regret it, I never thought about it, I was naïve and I thought it would be a great opportunity, until someone made me realise about the price of the article and I felt (and still feel) mortified.
Why the journals have to make profit with our research about OA, OERs or OK? Writers are not paid for the research they produce by the journals, we are paid by the taxpayers therefore we should think to make our results open to everybody.
I decided to do a bit of research about it, so I did a search in some databases about the following terms: Open Access – Open Educational Resources – Open Knowledge and surprisingly (or not), all the papers are quite expensive. You can try it yourself, go to http://www.sciencedirect.com/ and search for Open Access: the average cost of a paper is $35.00 and all of them were published by Elsevier, so I was wondering, if we are talking about Open Access, OERs or Open Knowledge, shouldn’t we embrace the concept and make our research public? Is the need to increase our publication rate more important than being honest and keep OA research open?
Accordingly to the Research Councils UK “publicly funded research must be made available to the public and remain accessible for future generations“. So the research produced with public funds must become Open Knowledge which is defined by the Open Knowledge foundation as “any material — whether it is content, data or information-based — which anyone is free to use, re-use and redistribute without restriction“. So, from my point of view, this is spirit we should all embrace, and by all means everyone doing research about OA, OERs and OK should think about putting their research open for everyone and not let the journals to profit about these concepts.
There are universities which subscribe to the aim of openness by asking to their academics and researches to publish in Open Access Journals. The OA movement is growing but there still not a general commitment in academia to publish freely and openly. It seems to me that there is an ethical issue which go deeper into the roots of this movement, why the scholars send their research to be published in commercial journals?
There is of course, the issue of impact rate, how many OA journals have the impact of the commercial – for profit journals? Not many… unfortunately, because producing a paper can cost lots of money, and the academic libraries are paying fortunes to subscribe to the journals in which we published our research, so if more research can be made open, more money our institutions will save, and therefore, more universities will be able to create journals and repositories where our research can be available to everyone without paying to access. So, under this model the funds can be re-distribute and it will be the universities those who benefit of our research rather than the journals.