Last week, before I headed to my current location in the land of Coca Cola and the Cartoon Network (the hotel is so nice here that when my friend stopped outside so that I could drop my bags off, the concierge asked him if he wanted would like some water while he waited), I attended a very inspirational talk on open access by Jonathan Eisen. The video is now available online (lecture 2.) Well worth watching as it was a good talk laying out the case for open access to research journals (which Eisen makes sure to delineate from open science. Say the word open science, I guess, and some people go bonkers.)
Actually this reminded me of a question: I wonder if physicists are more insulated from the open access debate because of the arXiv. I mean, since the arXiv is the conduit for most research, this means that one doesn't necessarily worry as much about the ultimate destination of the article.
By the way, I'm curious: what license option have people been choosing for arXiv submissions, since they allowed different choices?
Although research can be followed more-or-less through arXiv, there is too much published only in journals and/or conference proceedings for someone who does not have access to a university library to be sufficiently informed to be likely to contribute significant new research. Someone outside university has to become enough part of the system that their friends get them university library access on some ad-hoc basis or another. More significant still is access to something like Web of Science to find anything in journals before 2000, say. ArXiv search doesn't cut it, and following references on arXiv is close to impossible in many cases, unless an author has been kind enough to look up and check arXiv references as well as the journal and proceedings references.
If the financial model of current Open Access journals is adopted widely, access to publication in journals may be effectively closed down. Open access is worrying insofar as only those with financial resources will be able to publish in Open Access journals. Universities might let someone freeload on their library facilities if it's clear they are bona fide researchers, but universities are not likely to pay page charges. Someone will have to pay.
Yes, the hotel is nice. That link is bogus.