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World air links. © INRA, created by Michael Markieta [spatialanalysis]

Open access publishing is the future!

Updated on 02/16/2017
Published on 12/16/2013

Free access to scientific publications on the internet makes widespread and equal sharing of knowledge possible. At the same time, however, it subverts economic rules in traditional publishing, whereby the reader pays a subscription to read the articles in a journal. Several models have emerged to divide publication costs among publishers, authors and readers in other ways.

Editions Quæ recently published its first open-access title with financial support from INRA.

Open – meaning free – access to publications is revolutionizing the world of scientific publishing. Firmly backed by certain governments and funding agencies, it is based on a seemingly simple principle: making publicly-funded research results public. Geneviève Fioraso, France’s higher education and research minister recently stated that “scientific information is a public good that should be available to all”(1).

Such a shift requires a new economic model to replace the traditional “reader-pay” one used by publishers. The latter have adapted and offer open-access journals in addition to their pay-to-read titles, transferring publishing costs to authors, and – by extension – to authors’ professional bodies and project funding agencies. Scientists have adopted another model: open, online archives to which authors themselves add their publications.  But is this approach compatible with good editorial practices – in particular the famous peer review, known for conferring legitimacy to a paper?

This report pieces together the puzzle and provides useful information to help researchers navigate the complex and changing world of scientific publishing. It also looks at INRA’s involvement in supporting various open-access initiatives.
(1) Speech delivered by Geneviève Fioraso at the 5th Open Access Day, 24 January 2013 in the Grand Amphithéâtre des Arts et Métiers in  Paris.