The debate about access to academic literature has been rumbling on for a while now; especially focussing on the hefty charges levied by publishers.
This issue becomes even more acute when it is publically-funded research that has been published and it costs the same academics that undertook the work and the general public a handsome amount of cash to access them at a later date.
Now that I am not privy to the benefits of a broad institutional library subscription and work in the private sector access to literature can sometimes be a problem, especially from scientific journals. Usually this can be overcome but greater levels of open-access would be a huge benefit.
There are some open-acces archaeology journals or repositories, e.g. FASTIONLINE, ANTIQUA if you have a Mediterranean focus, but it is unlikely this kind of publishing can truly prosper when academic ratings are based partly on impact factors. These ratios which contribute to research funding from publicly-funded UK Research Councils are dervied from the very same journals that publishers charge so much for. A bit of a vicious circle.
I’m not claiming any kind of moral high ground, good peer-reviewed journals are necessary for maintaining high standards of research (I’ve had enough rejected proofs to realise this ;)). I was given an opportunity to publish in a peer-reviewed international journal during my publicly-funded PhD research that combines bi-lingual and open-access (after a couple of years moratorium). The journal does have an impact factor but that doesn’t mean it has to restrict access.
So as of this month my first little paper is now free to download.