Julie MacLeavy, Richard Harris, and Ron Johnston writing in Geoforum:
open access to knowledge will not be not achieved, nor the inequalities in the production and reproduction of knowledge that stem from costly journal subscriptions solved, by the simple transfer of publishing costs from audience to authors. The current hybrid model is little better, allowing ‘those who have’ to publish openly in a journal (under a Creative Commons licence) whilst ‘those who haven’t’ have to make do with traditional copyright and access restrictions supplemented by a pre-print version hosted by their institution.
Especially, one might add, when the visibility benefits of OA accrue to ‘those who have’—who tend to be scholars working in a handful of wealthy countries.
The geographers drop their clinical tone in the piece‘s closing lines:
The dissemination of academic research findings should be handled by non- profit organisations, such as learned societies, largely through relatively low-cost web-based publication linked to search engines that enable readers readily to identify and access relevant papers to their work, indeed to be informed of their existence through information media, such as the Table of Contents e-mails now deployed by the large capitalist publishing empires. Academic researchers would then no longer be giving away their intellectual property to profiteers but could get the same service from bodies dedicated to making research papers freely available at very low cost – with any surplus from such activity being invested into knowledge-creation rather than shareholders’ dividends. With such options the production and dissemination of knowledge would be removed from the biases inherent in the current capitalist model and universities could return to their former independence from such predation.
This nonprofit, mission-oriented future is precisely what Plan S looks increasingly likely to foreclose.