Open access publishing - noble intention, flawed reality

John Frank, Rosemary Foster, Claudia Pagliari

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

For two decades, the international scholarly publishing community has been embroiled in a divisive debate about the best model for funding the dissemination of scientific research. Some may assume that this debate has been thoroughly resolved in favour of the Open Access (OA) model of scientific publishing. Recent commentaries reveal a less settled reality. This narrative review aims to lay out the nature of these deep divisions among the sector's stakeholders, reflects on their systemic drivers and considers the future prospects for actualising OA's intended benefits and surmounting its risks and costs. In the process, we highlight some of inequities OA presents for junior or unfunded researchers, and academics from resource-poor environments, for whom an increasing body of evidence shows clear evidence of discrimination and injustice caused by Article Processing Charges. The authors are university-appointed researchers working the UK and South Africa, trained in disciplines ranging from medicine and epidemiology to social science and digital science. We have no vested interest in any particular model of scientific publication, and no conflicts of interest to declare. We believe the issues we identify are pertinent to almost all research disciplines.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)115592
JournalSocial Science & Medicine
Early online date2 Dec 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2 Dec 2022


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