The editorial in the December 2012 issue of SCRIPTed: A Journal of Law & Technology is written by me, along with Dr. John Sheekey (a mathematician who also happens to be my brother). In our piece, ‘All that glitters is not gold, but is it diamond?‘ (2012) 9 SCRIPTed 274, we respond to the proposals for open access academic publication in the UK and elsewhere. While you might expect that we would welcome proposals to make the results of research more widely available, particularly when so many articles require payment or a subscription, we argue that the current proposal in the UK, and similar proposals elsewhere, have the potential to cause serious harm to scholarship, particularly in the disciplines in which we work.
The biggest threat is the proposal that publicly funded research (and possibly work submitted to future research assessments) be published in open access journals, funded through the device of ‘article processing charges’ (APCs) paid to journal publishers. This system, where an author would need to come up with thousands of pounds in order to secure publication of her or his work, does not encourage early career scholars, and it raises serious questions about the incentives to accept submissions (in terms of journal editors). Instead, we argue for the ‘diamond’ system to be given more attention. This means journals which neither charge a subscription nor an APC, but may be funded directly by a research council or an institution. Indeed, this model, rather than the APC model known in much better funded disciplines, is already becoming significant in both law and mathematics. We suggest that it could form a part of a strategy towards genuine open access.