I have been thinking about the Open Access movement in scientific publishing recently. Basically, most scientific research, funded mostly by public money, is behind paywalls.

Remember when you were back in college and could access all those research papers from your college library or with your college email account? What happened to that access after you left college? How much would it cost you to access a research paper now?

The short answer is a lot. Even though this work is funded by the public’s money and the public is often on the receiving end of the fruits of this research, most won’t have access to it, especially in countries like India.

To combat this, governments around the world have been working on policies that push publishing on Open Access (OA) Journals. These journals do not have any subscription cost for the reader. But here is the catch: the researchers must pay a lot of money to publish in these journals.

There are Diamond OA journals that are closer to the open source software ecosystem we know. These journals don’t have any subscription costs, and the researcher need not pay any money to get their work published.

However, this model has yet to receive widespread adoption due to a myriad of reasons. As a software engineer, I am baffled.

Open source has been the norm for a long time, more so now than ever. We somehow manage to volunteer to work on projects funded by companies who use these projects and collaborate to build something free and open source. At least most of the time.

Why can’t something like that work with the OA movement? Yes, there is bound to be inertia from prominent journals as it cuts into their business. But this happened in software, too. Remember the Microsoft saga and how they recently turned things around and started embracing open source?

I will be working on this in the coming months. I have an article on the pipeline about India’s take on the OA movement, which I will publish next month.