Competition benefits open access

When publishers have to compete for every article, we have to offer better products and services in order to prove our value. This competition—an inherent part of open access—has already led to innovations and improvements for authors.

When publishers have to compete for every article—and especially when publishers are asking researchers to part with grant money for publishing services, as we are (much of the time) in open access—we have to offer better products and services in order to prove our value. This competition has already led to innovations and improvements for authors.

The first obvious innovation was proving that independent open access publishing was viable and financially sustainable—proven by Biomed Central (BMC). BMC proved that a commercial, for-profit publisher could flip the scientific publishing business model, make articles permanently openly available, and thrive. Part of this, it is worth noting, was a renewed focus on the author, so commitments to rapid production and publication and review, a focus on web site usability, and an overarching author-service philosophy.

A key point for me, this Open Access Week, is how even as we all work toward greater acceptance of and growth of open access publishing, we jostle and compete with each other. We work to provide better service and better value. We do more to reach out and demonstrate our value as publishers; we listen to our communities, and act on feedback which tells us what we could do better.

The more reputable and credible publishers—commercial and non-profit alike—compete, the better services and value we will be pushed to provide to researchers. That, to me, seems among open access’ biggest benefits to researchers.

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