According to Peter Suber, one of the leaders of the Open Access Movement, open access is “digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions“. It enables ideas and results of scientific research to be disseminated more rapidly and widely. Except its benefits, there are some concerns about open access. I selected Remote Sensing – an open access journal in geosciences – as an example to explain the pros and cons of this journal.
Remote Sensing (ISSN 2072-4292), an open access journal about the science and application of remote sensing technology in geosciences, is published monthly online by Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute (MDPI). This journal try to encourage scientists to publish experimental, theoretical and computational results in as much detail as possible so that results can be easily reproduced.
As an open access journal, Remote Sensing gives authors feedback very quickly. Joural managers push peer reviewers to submit their comments as quickly as possible and the articals can be published within two months if accepted for publication. Compared to some traditional journals which will need six months to one year of reviewing period, it is a big benefit.
However, as there would be a financial incentive for journals to publish more articles and Remote Sensing is based on authors paying for publication(1600 CHF (>1600 USD) per processed paper if accepted for publication), peer reviewers are unduly influenced by the needs of their publishers. I heard some reviewers complained that some authors only corrected their grammatical errors but ignored the suggestions on their methods/results, but the associated editors didn’t participate in the process to make a decision. The reviewers are angry about this and doubt about the quality of this journal.
Thus, open access is still finding its way and we have a long road to go.