John Timmer, The state of public access publishing, Ars Technica, June 26, 2006. Excerpt:
A few stories came out regarding public access scientific articles over the past week that provide a decent summary of where things stand. The first comes out of the Oxford Journals, a large collection that includes some scientific journals and is managed by the Oxford University Press....In keeping with the spirit of things, they've made the presentations and reports from the conference freely available. Various journals were subjected to analyses based on the access and citation rates before and after open access, and the results were generally mixed. One presentation, however, stood out from the rest for some interesting and definitive conclusions. As a result of opening up Nucleic Acids Research (NAR), search robots visits to the site rapidly peaked. By a year later, access to the site following a link from search engines had passed the PubMed database as the primary means of reaching an NAR article. In less than two years, journal access was up about 145 percent. In the words of the analysis, open access has, "opened the gates to the Google generation."
We've already mentioned how the sophisticated evaluations performed by commercial search engines can often provide better results than some dedicated academic search sites and how at least one commercial publisher is interested in making subscription based content accessible to search engines. Presumably, clear cut results such as these will hasten such efforts in the future. There were a few other interesting tidbits in the report. For example, it seems that most of the additional views appear to be of older articles, suggesting that search engines are more adept at pointing users to content they might otherwise overlook. A lot of the new readers appear to be from central Europe, where funding for paid access to journals can be expected to be limited.
Meanwhile, one of the commercial publishing houses (Nature) takes a look at one of their open access rivals, the Public Library of Science....The article notes that, based on impact factor, the top PLoS journals are doing very well for newcomers in the publishing field. But the financing hasn't followed; income is increasing, but it's still lagging far behind spending, resulting in a net deficit of US$1 million last year. So far, PLoS has made up the difference via grants from foundations, but the fees charged for publishing a paper there are set to rise to make up some of the difference. Currently at $1500, those fees could rise to nearly $2500. For context, many other publishers charge fees, some of which vary by the number of color images in an article. It’s entirely possible to rack up even higher charges for publishing in a commercial journal. Still, it’s a far cry from the hopes that accompanied the formation of PLoS. It seems like the open access movement is still experiencing some growing pains.
From: Open Access News, June 27, 2006