Here’s something to keep an eye on: eleven of the largest national research funding agencies in Europe have announced a plan to require open-access publication of papers arising from their grants. The plan is that by 2020, all such work must be published in compliant open-access journals or on compliant open-access platforms.
There are quite a few other provisions as well: authors are to retain copyright without restriction, first off. Standards for that adjective “compliant” will be drawn up and made public for journals and platforms, and in cases where no such entity exists, the agencies will provide incentives and support for their formation. Another key point: “It is acknowledged that all scientists should be able to publish their work Open Access even if their institutions have limited means”, which means that institutions (and not individual researchers) are to pick up the cost, and apparently there will be subsidies available in cases where this isn’t feasible. To that end, open access fees will be standardized and capped across Europe.
And publishers take note: the “hybrid” model of publication is explicitly stated not to be compliant. That’s the one where some of the papers in the journal are open access (presumably because the authors paid for them to be) and the rest of them aren’t. The European funding agencies are saying that this isn’t going to cut it: work will be published only in venues that are completely open access.
This has to be the loudest and highest-caliber shot yet across the bow of the current subscription model in scientific publishing. How will Elsevier, Springer/Nature, Wiley and the others react? How will the scientific societies themselves react? That latter question will emphasize that some of them are, in fact, more publishers than they are scientific societies, at least as how that latter term is popularly perceived. (There are other organizations that are, financially, better thought of as life insurance companies or direct marketing providers than as any sort of membership society, but I don’t know if any of the scientific ones have quite made it to that point or not!)
At any rate, this has potential to really shake things up, and in a pretty short time frame, too. Grab some popcorn.
Update: here’s a piece at Nature on this.