This week (at least for me) the topic of #ioe12 was Open Access. Open Access isn't all that new to me (having worked for an academic library for quite some time) but the materials still had a few new bits of information for me. I keep forgetting the difference between OA Gold and OA Green. For some reason "Green" is associated with money (dollars are green), so I had it in my head that OA Green was "author pays" while OA Gold was "author doesn't pay."
I was surprised to find (in the video) what the actual cost of some journals is! Considering that it is a "free" enterprise (in that authors and peer reviewers don't get paid), to have a journal subscription cost thousands of dollars is just ludicrous. I also find it equally ludicrous that there are Open Access Journals where the author has to pay to get published. I suppose, in the end, the money source needs to come from somewhere. However, considering that authors already put in free labor (research, analysis and writing), to ask them to pay is kinda crazy. It was nice to learn that some journals waive the cost if they are asked. There are some journals that seemed appropriate for my own writings that I skipped due to associated costs.
Open Access is quite important, both from a researcher's point of view and from a consumer (professional, student, society) point of view. A researcher's work is worthless if it is allowed to become stale behing paywalls and embargos. Research should be consumed fresh because some research (like veggies) does go bad if left in the fridge too long. Other research, much like whiskey, can become better (i.e. more relevant, more appreciated) over time. If research findings are allowed to become stale (or stale-ish) it's not that great for the researcher because people aren't benefiting from his hard work. From a consumer point of view, open access is important because it allows practitioners to take the most research findings and see how they can apply them to every day work. If this does not exist, people will continue to work under older (and perhaps invalidated) assumptions.