Purpose: To provide a current overview of the movement for open access to the peer review literature.
Methods: Literature review of recent advances in the open access movement with a personal viewpoint of the nuances of the movement.
Results: The open access movement is complex, with many different constituents. The idealists for the open access movement are seeking open access to the literature but also to the data that constitute the research within the manuscript. The business model of the traditional subscription journal is being scrutinized in relation to the surge in the number of open access journals. Within this environment authors should beware predatory practices. More government and funding agencies are mandating open access to their funded research. This open access movement will continue to be disruptive until a business model ensures continuity of the scientific record. A flood of open access articles that might enrich, but also might pollute or confuse, the medical literature has altered the filtering mechanism provided by the traditional peer review system. At some point there may be a shake-out, with some literature being lost in cyberspace.
Conclusions: The open access movement is maturing and must be embraced in some format. The challenge is to establish a sustainable financial business model that will permit the use of digital technology but yet not endanger the decades-old traditional publication model and peer review system. Authors seem to be slower in adopting open access than the idealists in the movement.
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