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The greatest barrier to a change in the way publishing works is the fact that tenure still depends on publication in high-impact journals--and high-impact journals are resolutely not Open Access.

Regardless of how difficult it would be get academics to change how they do things[1], it's also a problem that we can't agree on an acceptable and sustainable Open Access model.

The 'green' option sets an embargo (usually 6 months), during which time universities (etc.) must pay to view the article. After that, however, the journal article becomes freely available.

The 'gold' option asks academics to pay a small fee (£couple of hundred) to have their article published--what's known as Article Processing Charges.

The problem with the 'green' option is that in disciplines like science, medicine and technology, the first six months after publication probably encapsulate 90% of the article's value--after which point it has been replaced by something else--which means people would probably continue to pay for these things anyway.

The problem with 'gold' is that (a) you start publishing stuff based on who has the ability to pay, rather than academic merit, and (b) it would make academic publishing the only industry in the world where the supplier is paying the purchaser/buyer.

[1] A joke about Oxford Uni goes like this: Q. How many Oxford academics does it take to change a lightbulb? A. Change!?




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