From a piece I just published in the SSRC’s Items:

The article processing charge (APC) is the specter haunting the open access movement. Advocates for open access (OA) face plenty of other obstacles, including tolled journal prestige, researcher inertia, and the life-draining embrace of the publishing oligopolists. But the APC—the fee many publishers charge authors to publish—is a homegrown problem. Most scholars cannot afford the fees, a fact masked by the privileged segment who can: scientists in the rich industrialized world, and scholars at a handful of elite Western universities. The rest of us—researchers from the Global South and nonscientists everywhere—are left with a bill we can’t pay. So the prevailing APC regime fixes one barrier to access, for readers, by erecting another, for authors. That’s a cruel irony.