The era of academic journals being closed off from the general public by financial barriers is coming to an end. Publishers are terrified by this. It means they will have to get funding from other sources rather than annual subscriptions. There will be a time limit placed on articles, so after a short period they will have to be released so everyone can read them.
This move is being put forward by the UK government. It is pushing for open access from the very beginning of publication. Unfortunately, the government intends to make authors pay publishers. This is unrealistic. Admittedly, university lecturers are in a secure financial position. However, scientists find it difficult to get funding and allocating part of income on publication is another financial burden.
Universities are saying that the government is looking after publishers, protecting their income while passing the cost onto educational institutions. Martin Hall says we must move forward to get full funding in advance. Unfortunately, he does say how this money is to be obtained. UK researchers are planning to offer some work for free while saving their best for payment from journal publishers. This is too much like the present where only 5 per cent of articles are in gold open access.
This does look bleak for publishers who will steadily "go to the wall", and Universities who will pay either way. If most articles are going to be free, then the cost of the fewer "advanced" papers will cost much more. Governments will ultimately pay for the cost as the institutions are largely public bodies. In the current economic climate this cannot be sustained.