The unintended negative consequences of the drive towards open access publishing are becoming increasingly apparent. This paper examines the nature of open access publishing from the perspectives of authors and readers, considering issues of payment and ownership, and the question of open access for data. It discusses the origins of open access, its costs and the extent to which delivers on its aims, and reviews its advantages and disadvantages, including economic restrictions on access to publishing, the rise in predatory journals and de gradation of quality control, and the consequent potential of open access to damage the standing of science in society. Given the recognised importance of 'crafting the message', i.e. communicating scientific results to each category of end-users in the most appropriate way, it should also be asked why the 'one size fits all' solution of publishing results in open access journal papers (which usually follow the standard format of scientific papers, which remains off-putting to the casual reader) is considered necessary. There is a need for greater rigour in choice of publication outlets, avoiding predatory journals and promoting benign open access options, and ensuring that funding bodies and policymakers are aware of the unexpected negative impacts of unregulated open access publishing.
- Open access