This is an interesting move by Nature. The publishing group is enabling subscribers to share its articles without charge for others to read online. The initial paragraph stating that “all research papers from Nature will be made free to read in a proprietary screen-view format” sounded so good that Nature has today had to issue a quick clarification before everyone gets too excited.
The subscriber sharing that the article describes also applies to 48 other journals in the Nature Publishing Group family. It doesn’t mean there’s going to be free access, but free sharing for read-only access, which should be a good thing in most cases, but evidently doesn’t help in all situations due to the variety of ways that authors share their papers. So, as you’d expect, views from the open access community are mixed.
Still, it shows that the academic publishers are feeling pressured to do something to improve access to their content, and is quite a revealing example of the academic publisher’s dilemma: how to maintain profitable subscriptions while offering a level of free access which answers to the clarion call for open access.
The world of academic publishing is certainly being disrupted, but via a series of low rumbles and tremors rather than a seismic shift.