For the last 13 years I have either been part of a university or working for a hospital system. This affiliation has granted me access to pretty much any journal or article I needed for my work. This is a privilege that many people do not have. I was and still am fortunate to have access to peer reviewed literature within minutes. It would be incredibly challenging to stay informed on the latest practices in public health and urban planning (my interest areas) if I did not have this access. Without the subscription services provided by these large organizations, I would have to pay for the articles individually. This scenario leaves a large group of people without adequate access to important information. Whether it be a small non-profit trying to write a grant or a parent looking for innovative treatment options for a sick child, access to peer reviewed journals may not be a viable option. This is unfortunate that the information has a barrier to being shared. Open access journals seem to alleviate this problem.
I remember years ago open access was thought to be less rigorous, but I don’t believe this is the case now. They often go through the same peer review process as non- open access journal. The difference is the cost is placed on the author, not the reader. This creates access to those who are not part of a large university, hospital system, or organization with subscriptions.
I was recently at a conference and approached about a new journal called the Translational Journal of the American College of Sports Medicine. The journal has the option for open access, but it does not seem to be required. I like that authors can decide how their work is disseminated. If open access is a priority, then they pay the fee and the article becomes available to anyone. The potential to publish to a wider audience is appealing, as long as the rigor remains. It will be interesting to see if open access becomes the norm in the future.