It’s obvious how Open Access helps students. Anyone who has researched anything can attest to how amazing the Open Access philosophy is. But there is more to the story. How does Open Access benefit the actual authors of the articles? To answer this, we need to examine how authors are treated by the current publishing system, and here comes the secret: the publishers do not pay the authors for their publications. Authors’ efforts are usually in order to promote their ideas and careers in the field, and rarely do they receive monetary compensation from the publishers. Those same publishers charge thousands of dollars for access to those articles. Open Access calls for free and easy exchange of information, helping researchers share advances in their field. Research for pressing issues can happen faster and more efficiently when researchers have access to related findings.
One of the first questions to arise regarding Open Access is how journals will be financially feasible if no one is paying to access them. Online publishing companies have to meet their overhead costs, and while the cost of access is the most obvious answer, there many other means of income.
There are already 3,000 peer-reviewed journals listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals. They operate without any subscription costs, relying instead on a variety of incomes, including endowment, advertising, and sponsorship. Journals do not need to charge costly subscriptions if they pursue alternative sources of income. You get free information, journals can still support themselves, and everybody benefits.
Inspiration and information from the Right to Research‘s Brochure, a student-oriented site associated with SPARC — an organization that sponsors Open Access Week and seeks to settle the playing field for access to scholarly publications. Check out their sites for more information about what you can do as a student.