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Re: Looking an open access gift horse in the mouth

Two brief points.

(1) It's true that processing fees charged by open access journals (paid
one at a time or in batch through institutional memberships) resemble
subscription fees. Both are fees paid by universities, perhaps even out
of the library budget. But there are a couple of important differences. First, they pay for outgoing articles published by that institution's
faculty, not incoming articles published by researchers elsewhere. Second, they pay for open access, not just not local access and
consumption. Open access benefits all internet-connected readers around
the world, which greatly accelerates research. It thereby benefits the
local authors on whose behalf the fees were paid, by giving them them a
larger audience and greater impact. Processing fees provide far more
benefits to far more people, per dollar spent, than subscription fees.

(2) It's true as Ann and others have pointed out that major research
institutions that produce the most research articles will pay the most in
open-access journal processing fees. But if open access spreads, then
these institutions will also save the most through the cancellation,
conversion, or demise of traditional subscription-based journals.

Peter Suber
Research Professor of Philosophy, Earlham College
Open Access Project Director, Public Knowledge
Author, SPARC Open Access Newsletter
Editor, Open Access News blog