Open access publishing: free journals online

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Wilson, K 2005, 'Open access publishing: free journals online', Online Currents, vol. 20, no. 5, pp. 1-5.

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The growth of Internet and digital technologies has changed the world of journal publishing and research. Many mainstream commercial serials have moved to the online publishing model, making available a vast range of electronic journal content. However, the publication of commercial serials in online format has not brought a decrease in subscription costs. Costs have risen, particularly for research and scientific journals, and libraries have been forced to slash serial purchasing budgets. Some have cancelled print subscriptions in favour of electronic versions. When journals and serials were available only in print format, access was limited to a physical space, but in other ways it was more open. Researchers and clients could walk into a library, browse, locate, read, and copy articles. Online technology has enhanced access and offers many more possibilities, but in other ways it has become more restricted. Ironically, the technology that enables online publishing also makes usage of online content easier to track, monitor and control. Licensing requirements for electronic resources are more tightly controlled. Vendors and aggregators require libraries and institutions to define their clientele and determine their rights to access content online. We must be registered, authenticated and authorised to consult online journals. If you are not part of an organisation that subscribes to online journals, or cannot use the material in a public library, or your library cannot afford to subscribe to certain journals, you may be denied access to certain data. Researchers who publish in commercial journals lose the copyright to their own research, and they and their institutions pay high prices to subscribe to, and access, the publications in which they publish. Motivated by the rising costs of accessing serials, the loss of copyright ownership, and the increasing barriers to research information, groups of researchers, academics, and research organisations have launched independent peer-reviewed journal publishing. These initiatives, primarily, but not limited to, the sciences, are committed to lowering the barriers to the sharing of information and research, and to crossing the information digital divide. Online publication and distribution costs are kept low and many publications are offered free, but there are costs. Some open publishing programs are levying the costs from contributing organisations and researchers, incorporating the costs of publication of research results into projects and grants. Other journals are funded with the help of philanthropic organisations. Many free research and peer-reviewed journals are published under the Open Access publishing model, and use the Creative Commons licensing options.

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