Top Scientific Publisher Chooses Not To Advance Open Access

Jon Tennant | The Conversation | September 3, 2014

Access to research is limited worldwide by the high cost of subscription journals, which force readers to pay for their content. The use of scientific research in new studies, educational material and news is often restricted by these publishers, who require authors to sign over their rights and then control what is done with the published work. In response, a movement that would allow free access to information and no restrictions on reuse – termed open access – is growing.

Some universities and funding organisations, including those administered by governments, now mandate open access, recognising its potential to increase the impact of research paid for by public money. The United Nations is considering the importance of open access to ensure the “right to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its applications”.  The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), which is the largest scholarly society in the world, has recently launched a new open-access journal. But its approach is at odds with that of other major open-access publishers and could impair the goals of the movement.

The journal Science Advances, to be launched in February by the AAAS, plans to publish articles under a license that would prevent commercial reuses by default. This includes publication on some educational blogs and incorporation into educational material, as well as reuse by small-medium enterprises. By definition, this is not open access. AAAS will give authors the option to publish their work under a fully open license, but will levy a US$1,000 surcharge on top of the US$3,000 base publication fee. A reason for this surcharge was not given...