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Open access (73)

1 September, 2019

A couple of late observations:

1. The principal purpose of Open Access is not to make things free of charge, but to make access to information without barriers. This vision should not be reduced to a purely economic argument.

2. In the catalogue of "Myths" (which, by the way, is presuming that the statments are false from the outset - can't we call them "Issues"?), the second "Myth" is "Open access journals discriminate against authors who cannot afford article processing charges". Since I am such an author, with no institutional resources to back up my publications, I can attest to the fact that this is not a myth.

The offering of substantial APC waivers to authors from specific countries or to researchers with financial constraints in specific cases is familiar. My point relates to the way in which such discounts are offered. Usually, a researcher needs to assert or demonstrate his/her inability to pay the APC before getting relief. The problem is that obliging researcher to request a lower or zero APC feels a bit like inviting them to beg � aand the result often seems to depend on the benevolence and good humour of the editor, responding on an individual, case-by-case basis, rather than by applying some pre-established rule.

This is surely not good enough. It can’t be correct and ethical scientific practice to require unsupported authors to face the embarrassment of having to turn out their pockets and demonstrate the holes in their socks before they get a discount.

Any views on this? Should there be a norm among OA journals that each should adopt a standardized system to determine APC charges (ranging from 0 to the full APC, depending on an explicit list of circumstances), avoiding the need for any negotiation?



Chris Zielinski


Blogs: http://ziggytheblue.wordpress.com and http://ziggytheblue.tumblr.com

Research publications: http://www.researchgate.net

HIFA profile: Chris Zielinski: As a Visiting Fellow in the Centre for Global Health, Chris leads the Partnerships in Health Information (Phi) programme at the University of Winchester. Formerly an NGO, Phi supports knowledge development and brokers healthcare information exchanges of all kinds. Chris has held senior positions in publishing and knowledge management with WHO in Brazzaville, Geneva, Cairo and New Delhi, with FAO in Rome, ILO in Geneva, and UNIDO in Vienna. Chris also spent three years in London as Chief Executive of the Authors Licensing and Collecting Society. He was the founder of the ExtraMED project (Third World biomedical journals on CD-ROM), and managed the Gates Foundation-supported Health Information Resource Centres project. He served on WHO’s Ethical Review Committee, and was an originator of the African Health Observatory. Chris has been a director of the World Association of Medical Editors, UK Copyright Licensing Agency, Educational Recording Agency, and International Association of Audiovisual Writers and Directors. He has served on the boards of several NGOs and ethics groupings (information and computer ethics and bioethics). UK-based, he is also building houses in Zambia. chris AT chriszielinski.com

His publications are at www.ResearchGate.net and https://winchester.academia.edu/ChrisZielinski/ and his blogs are http://ziggytheblue.wordrpress.com and https://www.tumblr.com/blog/ziggytheblue