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“We’re seeing some authors do this,” Carroll said. PLoS One is an example of such an alternative system, which streamlines the peer review process but then keeps the process open for public comment or annotation after publishing: “The philosophy is that it’s more important to get the report out. Let the market decide how good the study is.” (Reason's Ron Bailey wrote about alternative models of scientific publishing back in 2007, including PLoS One, which published its 10,000th article in 2010.)
The market is also prompting academic publishers to make changes on their own, said Susan King, senior vice president of the Journals Publishing Group for the American Chemical Society’s Publications Division.
“From our perspective we do support universal access to the results but publishing needs to be sustainable,” King said. “Collaborations have already happened between publishers and their communities and it’s the best way forward.” The American Chemical Society does allow its authors to choose to have their works openly accessible immediately after publication. But so far, though the American Chemical Society publishes about 35,000 studies per year in its 41 journals, authors have only asked for open access for less than 2,000 papers, King said.
The breadth of ideas and potential solutions to the problem of access to academic research (to the extent that there is a problem at all) might make one ask why the government should get involved in this issue. The open access proponents have solutions. The publishers have solutions. The researchers have solutions. Can’t they work it out? Does anybody really believe the government is the best choice to shape the future of academic culture?