The open access movement is a long-standing campaign in the world of research to make scholarly works freely available and reusable. One of its fundamental premises is that the progress of knowledge and culture happens scholarly works of all kinds are widely shared, not hidden in ivory towers built with paywalls and shorn by harsh legal regimes.
Scholarly journal publishers currently compile research done by professors (for free), send articles out to be peer reviewed (for free), and distribute the edited journals back to universities around the world (for costs anywhere up to $35,000 each). Subscription prices have outpaced inflation by over 250 percent in the past 30 years, and these fees go straight to the publisher. Neither the authors nor their institutions are paid a cent, and the research itself–which is largely funded by taxpayers–remains difficult to attain. Skyrocketing costs have forced university libraries–even Harvard’s, the richest American university–to pick and choose between journal subscriptions.
The result: students and citizens face barriers accessing information they need; professors have a harder time reviewing and teaching the state of the art; and cutting-edge research remains hidden behind paywalls, depriving it of the visibility it deserves.