Heavy Hitter Favors Open Access

Howard Hughes Medical Institute has announced a policy to
promote open-access publication of scientific papers.  They
are not only supporting it philosophically, but financially as well.
 In fact, they are not only supporting it, but requiring
it for their researchers:

Expresses Support for Springer Open Choice

September 27, 2007

Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) has expressed support for
Springer's Open Choice program whereby articles are — if
accepted for publication after a process of rigorous peer-review
— immediately published with full open access and deposited
in repositories such as PubMed Central, at a flat-rate fee per article
of $3,000. Springer's Open Choice programme applies to all its journals.

HHMI has a strong commitment to
ensuring public access to original research articles. Beginning with
papers submitted for publication after January 1, 2008, HHMI will
require its scientists to publish their original research articles in
journals that allow the articles and supplementary materials to be made
freely accessible in a public repository within six months of

HHMI is the largest private funder
of biomedical research in the U.S. and commits more than $500 million a
year for research and distributes $80 million in grant support for
science education.

HHMI investigators already publish
a significant number of research articles in open access journals or in
journals with open access options. Under the new policy, HHMI will pay
up to $2,000 in open access charges per article with the balance coming
from laboratory budgets or other sources.

HHMI clearly is serious about this.  It makes the 
at href="http://scienceblogs.com/clock/2007/08/this_prism_does_not_turn_white.php">PRISM
look like idiots...droning on about how open-access publication is a
threat to peer review, will increase government spending, etc.
 Here we have one of the largest and most prestigious research
institutes in the world, saying open-access publishing is a good idea,
and backing up their words with cash...private
funding, in fact

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I personally believe that this open-access movement will do more to advance the state of the art more than anything in history. Funny that things turned out the exact opposite of Asimov's "The Dead Past" -- okay, maybe just to me.

This is one of those things that needs to shake itself out.
It's happening with an increasing number of journals also.

I remember years ago doing some research to help one of my kids with a project in school finding an article of interest in an old Scientific American issue (years old). They wanted about $9 to download that one article -- more than the cost of the entire issue when it was new.

This is emblematic of the problem -- gouging for access. Like many forms of printed material, there is a certain reasonable value that an article might be said to have when it's brand new, but that rapidly declines with time, and after 6 months to a year at most should have a nominal if any value.

The journal Neurology now posts for free full articles after the issue is 6 months old. I think this is reasonable and wish others would do the same. For those who complain about the cost of storage and maintaining access, I'm sure Google would be more than happy to take over their old online issues and allow free access.

As far as price and storage go, I think iTunes or somewhere like that might make sense. Charge 50 cents to download the article.

They may find that they make a lot more money, in addition to providing greater utility.