As Techdirt has been reporting, the idea of providing open access to publicly-funded research is steadily gaining ground.
As Techdirt has been reporting, the idea of providing open access to publicly-funded research is steadily gaining ground. One of the key moments occurred almost exactly a year ago, when the British mathematician Tim Gowers announced that he would no longer have anything to do with the major academic publisher Elsevier. This then turned into a full-scale boycott: today, over 13,000 academics have pledged not to work with the company.
Despite the growing acceptance of open access, there remains a key challenge. Unlike traditional academic journals, which require readers to pay, open access titles provide free access to all. But even though produced in a digital form, open access journals still have editing and production costs associated with them, and these are typically met by the funding institutions of the researchers when their papers are accepted for publication.
This is the so-called "gold" form of open access; another is "green", which consists of posting papers to an institutional repository or open online archive. In an interesting development, a new form, dubbed "diamond" open access, has just been announced by Tim Gowers:
a platform is to be created that will make it very easy to set up arXiv overlay journals.
What is an arXiv overlay journal? It is just like an electronic journal, except that instead of a website with lots of carefully formatted articles, all you get is a list of links to preprints on the arXiv. The idea is that the parts of the publication process that academics do voluntarily -- editing and refereeing -- are just as they are for traditional journals, and we do without the parts that cost money, such as copy-editing and typesetting.