In its August cover story, Whither Science Publishing?, the Scientist sponsored a discussion between researchers, editors/publishers of scientific journals, and librarians. A telling excerpt:
QUESTION 4: Is there an as-yet-untried alternative to subscription-based or open-access publishing?Posted by stemp003 at August 10, 2012 12:38 PM
Michael Eisen, Howard Hughes Investigator and Associate Professor of Genetics, Genomics, and Development, University of California, Berkeley: Yes. Several: direct subsidies to publishers (à la eLife) and doing away with publishers entirely and using a system based completely on something like arXiv.org [a seminal open-access archive used to share research in the fields of mathematics, physics, and computer science].
Susan King, Senior Vice President, American Chemical Society Journals Publishing Group: No. The value-add that publishers provide through services like supporting peer review; enhancing the global accessibility of scholarly communication in standardized formats; enabling the discovery of knowledge through innovative web-based platforms, tools, and interlinked content; protecting the integrity and reliability of the scholarly record; and preserving the scholarly record for future generations have costs that must be paid for in some way. Both subscription and open-access publishing seek to recover the costs of this ongoing investment from those who benefit from it. It has been argued that even projects such as eLife, which do not plan to charge initially, constitute a form of prepaid gold open access, with its sponsors prepaying the fees that the project eventually expects to incur.