Open Access: what’s in it for me?
One problem that I am facing is convincing colleagues of the utility of an Open Access publication. The usual arguments: more visibility, retention of the right to re-use material, the Greater Good, taxpayer access to taxpayer-funded research and so on don’t stick very well when faced with a $1500-$2500 or higher publication fee. These can be very big expenses if one is working on medium to small size grants, and where publication fees are sought, in part, from the College. Note: in many case the OA fees are not unaffordable; one would not request, in good faith, that the fees be waived or discounted by the publisher. But if one can use this money to pay the summer salary of a couple of more students, go to a conference, or upgrade / repair equipment, then the utility of shelling out this money for a publication seems marginal and pying this money for publication fees seems almost frivolous. In the US, funding agencies require, at most, that publications resulting from their funding would, be available on Pubmed Central within a certain time period and many non-OA publications comply, or they would lose the ability to publish a large chunk of NIH/NSF funded research projects. But doing so is not really timely OA. The bottom line is, if the grant is smaller than R01 size, many applicants would rather budget the expected $8000 of OA fees for the 3-4 year grant period for other line items that have a more palpable payoff, so to speak.
I don’t really have a point to this post, other than raising a problem that seems to be ignored, or marginalized, by many OA advocates. Not everyone operates on large grants. Many lab budgets leave very little room to buy a new laptop, let alone pay for an OA publication (typically the price of two of said laptops).