In the past few weeks, I have been asked to peer review a few papers from the International Journal of Science and Technology Education Research. After doing some poking around, I found out that this is part of Academic Journals, an open access journal publisher who charges about $550 to publish an article. This is on the heels of me completing a few surveys for Project SOAP, a two-year study of open access publishing (see results here) where I realized many of the questions got at how much I would be willing to pay to publish an article in an open source journal. On slide 37, you will see that only 50.2% of authors did not pay a fee to publish in an open access journal. (FYI - the Directory of Open Access Journals is a great resource to find open access journals.)
This piqued my interest. So looking further and further still, I found paying to publish articles is not that uncommon in many fields. Maybe the field of education has been in a privileged place where it is uncommon for us to pay to publish?
I have often thought that paying to publish an article is a bad thing...that it belittles the intellectual value of us creating something and giving it to the greater community for free. Granted, this greater community = those able to pay for peer-reviewed journals or those who have access to a library that subscribes to that journal AND nothing is free.
So I wonder and I ask, is this model of ‘author-pays’ the way forward to make our articles more accessible? If we track and quantify our articles (impact factor, downloads, etc.) in open source publications, will these gain acceptance in the field? Additionally, is an open source journal that does not charge to publish viewed as ‘better’ than one that does charge?
I would love thoughts / comments as I personally wrestle with this issue.
University of Kentucky
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