Open access (OA) publishing is a major contemporary theme that shapes many scholarly discussions today. Scholastics or academics, colleges, corporate publishing houses, non-profit publishers and journals, editors, editorial boards, labor unions representing publication employees, funding agencies, and policymakers are all vital actors in this context. They hold numerous, albeit diverse, opinions on open access.
The discussion on OA is a debate about the future of the academic world without the fetters of copyright and licensing laws. The pros and cons of traditional profit-oriented academic publishing need to be discussed, including touchy issues such as monopoly prices and inequalities in access. Many believe that traditional publishing operates within the ambits of a market economy, which does not go well with, and often inhibits, academic pursuits. Simultaneously, the discussion must also center on the contemporary perspectives on OA that are frequently advanced by the mainstream publishing industry, policymakers and labor unions, and then meet these perspectives head on with cogent arguments in favor of OA publishing.
In recent times, a new term has been added to the debate on open access publishing, viz., diamond open access (DOA) publishing. This kind of publishing gives a chance to reclaim academic commons. DOA is a non-profit academic publishing concept that looks at scholastic knowledge as a common good and encourages job security by providing employment to many in the field of open publishing. It recognizes the true essence of the academic domain as a communication system that produces and disseminates academic knowledge as a commons in the OA process.
Promotion of academic commons through DOA needs public funding, favorable policies, research grants, and a system of rewards for academicians who act as editors, reviewers or editorial board members. After all, DOA works in the interest of the academia.
Existing concepts such as “green open access” and “gold open access” have their own limitations. In particular, the green open access model has been criticized because, like conventional publishing, it also operates in a market economy; authors are asked to pay to get their works published. This often leads to “vanity publishing,” where authors pay to publish researches that are often below par. Second, gold open access works in favor of research areas that have financial backing. For instance, while researchers in fields like life sciences have the cash to pay their way through to publication, others are hard put to get their work published through the gold access model.
DOA seeks to overcome these limitations. For a start, unlike gold open access, authors do not need to pay. Second, the final publication is immediately accessible to the public.
DOA publishing has emerged as a policy intervention and reflection on current issues related to OA publishing. It incorporates the following key questions about OA publishing:
- What role should OA play in the future of academic publishing?
- What should the future of academic publishing look like?
- What academic policy reforms are needed in OA publishing?
Admittedly, the debate on OA has thus far lacked vision and the incorporation of innovative social practices. Therefore, there is a need to trigger a new level of debate with questions directed at contemporary policymakers, the writing and editing fraternity, publishing houses, and OA publishing associations and librarians.