List of platinum Open Access linguistics journals

This list aims to include all peer-reviewed platinum Open Access journals in general, descriptive, and theoretical linguistics, as long as they are open to submissions from anyone. Due to the fast-moving nature of the field it is likely to be constantly out of date. If you find that your favourite platinum journal is missing, that a link is broken, or that a detail is wrong, let us know on Twitter or by emailing George. The list was last updated in August 2017.

The list is built on the excellent work of Humans Who Read Grammars. It is in alphabetical order.

General linguistics journals

Language-specific linguistics journals

Journals not accepting submissions

Full details

Acta Linguistica Asiatica

a journal devoted to the study of Asian languages, their translation and teaching.

  • Languages covered: languages of Asia.
  • Subfields covered: all.

Afrikanistik Aegyptologie Online (AAeA)

Journal in African Studies and Egyptology from University of Cologne. Multilingual, abstracts are welcome in German, English, French, Arabic and larger African languages. Full articles only in German, English or French though.

  • Languages covered: African languages, Egyptology.
  • Subfields covered: all.

Anglophonia

French Journal of English Linguistics. Part of OpenEdition.

  • Languages covered: English.
  • Subfields covered: all.

Argumentation et analyse du discours

A journal of language sciences which aims to analyse the connexions between discourse analysis, rhetoric and argumentation. Part of OpenEdition.

  • Languages covered: all.
  • Subfields covered: discourse analysis.

Biolinguistics

Explores the biological foundations of language and appeals to linguists, philosophers, psychologists, biologists, neuroscientists, cognitive scientists, and researchers in related fields.

  • Languages covered: all.
  • Subfields covered: biolinguistics.

Cadernos de Etnolingüística

Journal for indigenous South American languages.

  • Languages covered: South American languages.
  • Subfields covered: all.

Cahiers

Web-based journal of the Association for French Language Studies.

  • Languages covered: French.
  • Subfields covered: all.

Cahiers de praxématique

French-language journal devoted to the study of the production and the circulation of meaning. Part of OpenEdition.

  • Languages covered: all.
  • Subfields covered: pragmatics, discourse analysis, semantics.

Catalan Journal of Linguistics

General linguistics journal supported by the Centre de Lingüística Teòrica of the UAB and the Institut Interuniversitari de Filologia Valenciana.

  • Languages covered: all.
  • Subfields covered: all.

CogniTextes

Journal of the French association for cognitive linguistics. Part of OpenEdition.

  • Languages covered: all.
  • Subfields covered: cognitive linguistics.

Constructions+

A multimedia platform for linguistic research concerned with the structure, use, function, and development of ‘constructions’ in language and linguistics. Formerly part of eLanguage.

  • Languages covered: all.
  • Subfields covered: all, especially construction grammar.

Corela: cognition, représentation, langage

Journal of language science. Part of OpenEdition.

  • Languages covered: all.
  • Subfields covered: all.

Corpus

A journal promoting research in corpus linguistics at various levels, theoretical, methodological and epistemological. Part of OpenEdition.

  • Languages covered: all.
  • Subfields covered: corpus linguistics.

Cuadernos de Lingüística de El Colegio de México

Covers all research that advances our understanding of natural languages. Submissions in Spanish or English.

  • Languages covered: all (submissions on under-represented languages encouraged).
  • Subfields covered: all.

Dialogue & Discourse

Deals with language “beyond the single sentence”, adopting an interdisciplinary perspective. Formerly part of eLanguage.

  • Languages covered: all.
  • Subfields covered: pragmatics, discourse analysis and related fields.

Études finno-ougriennes

Études finno-ougriennes is the only academic journal in French in the field of Finno-Ugric studies. Part of OpenEdition.

  • Languages covered: Finno-Ugric, Uralic.
  • Subfields covered: all.

Finno-Ugric Languages and Linguistics

Journal for all aspects of Finno-Ugric and Uralic languages.

  • Languages covered: Finno-Ugric, Uralic.
  • Subfields covered: all.

Glossa

Full financial support for this journal is provided by LingOA with long-term funding provided by the Open Library of Humanities (OLH). Sprung out of a disagreement between the linguists of Lingua and their publisher.

  • Languages covered: all.
  • Subfields covered: all.

ICAME Journal

An annual publication containing articles and reviews on research carried out related to English-language corpora. Part of De Gruyter Open.

  • Languages covered: English.
  • Subfields covered: corpus linguistics.

Indo-European Linguistics (IEL)

IEL is devoted to the study of the ancient and medieval Indo-European languages from the perspective of modern theoretical linguistics.

  • Languages covered: pre-modern Indo-European.
  • Subfields covered: all.

Internationale Neerlandistiek

Journal of the Internationale Vereniging voor Neerlandistiek.

  • Languages covered: Dutch, Afrikaans.
  • Subfields covered: all.

Isogloss

A journal on variation of Romance and Iberian languages.

  • Languages covered: Romance, Iberian.
  • Subfields covered: all.

Jazykovedný casopis

The Journal of Ludovít Štúr Institute of Linguistics, SAV, Slovakia. Part of De Gruyter Open.

  • Languages covered: all.
  • Subfields covered: all.

Journal de la Société Finno-Ougrienne

International journal from 1886 from the Finno-Ugrian Society.

  • Languages covered: Finno-Ugric languages.
  • Subfields covered: all.

Journal of Historical Syntax

Journal focusing on historical and diachronic studies of syntax. Formerly part of eLanguage.

  • Languages covered: all.
  • Subfields covered: historical linguistics, syntax.

Journal of Language Modelling

Aims to bridge the gap between theoretical linguistics and natural language processing.

  • Languages covered: all.
  • Subfields covered: computational linguistics, natural language processing, and adjacent areas of theoretical linguistics.

Journal of Portuguese and Spanish Lexically-based Creoles (Revista de Crioulos de Base Lexical Portuguesa e Espanhola – RCBLPE)

Journal of the Association of Portuguese and Spanish-Lexified Creoles.

  • Languages covered: Iberian Romance-based pidgin and creole languages, and language contacts involving Portuguese or Spanish.
  • Subfields covered: contact linguistics.

Journal of Portuguese Linguistics

The Journal of Portuguese Linguistics is concerned with all branches of linguistics and aims at publishing high-quality papers in the field of Portuguese linguistics, including the comparison between any varieties of Portuguese and any other language(s). Part of LingOA.

  • Languages covered: Portuguese.
  • Subfields covered: all.

Journal of South Asian Linguistics

JSAL is devoted to the linguistic study of South Asia.

  • Languages covered: languages of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Tibet, and their diasporas.
  • Subfields covered: all.

Laboratory Phonology

Journal of the Association for Laboratory Phonology. Part of LingOA.

  • Languages covered: all.
  • Subfields covered: phonetics, phonology.

Language Documentation & Conservation

Journal sponsored by the National Foreign Language Resource Center and published exclusively in electronic form by the University of Hawaiʻi Press.

  • Languages covered: all, especially endangered languages.
  • Subfields covered: language documentation, language policy, language planning, language revitalization, lexicography.

Language Documentation & Description

Journal from Endangered Languages Publishing.

  • Languages covered: all, especially endangered languages.
  • Subfields covered: language documentation, language description, sociolinguistics, language policy, language revitalization.

Language and Linguistics in Melanesia

Previously known as Kivung. The journal of the Linguistics Society of Papua New Guinea.

  • Languages covered: languages of Papua New Guinea and Melanesia, including creoles.
  • Subfields covered: all.

Lengas: revue de sociolinguistique

French-language sociolinguistics journal. Part of OpenEdition.

  • Languages covered: Occitan.
  • Subfields covered: sociolinguistics, language policy.

Lingua Posnaniensis

The Journal of Poznan Society for the Advancement of the Arts and Sciences and Adam Mickiewicz University, Institute of Linguistics.

  • Languages covered: all.
  • Subfields covered: all.

Linguistic Discovery

Journal supported by Dartmouth College.

  • Languages covered: all, especially endangered languages.
  • Subfields covered: descriptive linguistics.

Linguistic Issues in Language Technology (LiLT)

LiLT focuses on relationships between linguistic insights, which can prove valuable to language technology, and language technology, which can enrich linguistic research. Formerly part of eLanguage.

  • Languages covered: all.
  • Subfields covered: computational linguistics, natural language processing, and related theoretical subfields.

Linguistica Uralica

Journal from the Estonian Academy of Sciences (Eesti Teaduste Akadeemia).

  • Languages covered: Uralic (Finno-Ugric, Samoyedic) languages.
  • Subfields covered: all.

Linguistik Online

A well-established online-only generalist journal.

  • Languages covered: all.
  • Subfields covered: all.

Modèles linguistiques

French-language general linguistics journal. Part of OpenEdition.

  • Languages covered: all.
  • Subfields covered: all.

Nordic Journal of African Studies

Journal in African studies from Nordic Association of African Studies. Articles welcome in English, French and Swahili.

  • Languages covered: African languages.
  • Subfields covered: all.

Nordlyd

Published by the Department of Language and Culture at UiT The Arctic University of Norway, and primarily features articles with some connection to UiT. Contributions are, however, welcome from others.

  • Languages covered: all.
  • Subfields covered: all.

Papers in Historical Phonology

Published by the University of Edinburgh. Employs post-publication peer review.

  • Languages covered: all.
  • Subfields covered: historical linguistics, phonology.

Philologie im Netz

Interdisciplinary journal for linguistics, literary, and cultural studies.

  • Languages covered: all.
  • Subfields covered: all.

Prague Journal of English Studies

English literature and linguistics journal of the Charles University, Prague. Part of De Gruyter Open.

  • Languages covered: English.
  • Subfields covered: all.

Recherches linguistiques de Vincennes

General linguistics journal. Part of OpenEdition.

  • Languages covered: all.
  • Subfields covered: all.

Research in Language

General linguistics journal with an interdisciplinary focus. Part of De Gruyter Open.

  • Languages covered: all.
  • Subfields covered: all.

Semantics & Pragmatics

Prolific and successful journal supported by the Linguistic Society of America. Formerly part of eLanguage.

  • Languages covered: all.
  • Subfields covered: semantics, pragmatics.

SKY Journal of Linguistics

Journal from the linguistic association of Finland. Articles welcome in English, French and German.

  • Languages covered: all.
  • Subfields covered: all.

Snippets

Tiny little articles. Published by LED Edizioni Universitarie di Lettere Economia Diritto.

  • Languages covered: all.
  • Subfields covered: all.

Studia Anglica Posnaniensia

An international review of English studies, run from Adam Mickiewicz University.

  • Languages covered: English.
  • Subfields covered: all, particularly historical.

Studies in African Linguistics

SAL’s goal is to provide a public forum within the community of African language scholars for discourse on issues of direct concern to the field of African linguistics. Formerly part of eLanguage.

  • Languages covered: African languages.
  • Subfields covered: all.

Syntaktika

French-language journal. Part of OpenEdition.

  • Languages covered: Ancient Greek.
  • Subfields covered: syntax, semantics.

Taal en Tongval

Language variation in the Netherlands, Flanders and related languages/areas.

  • Languages covered: Dutch, Frisian, (Low) German, languages spoken in the Netherlands and Flanders.
  • Subfields covered: all.

Taiwan Journal of Linguistics

Based at the Graduate Institute of Linguistics, National Chengchi University. The language of publication is English.

  • Languages covered: all.
  • Subfields covered: all.

Topics in Linguistics

Run by the Department of English and American Studies, Faculty of Arts, Constantine the Philosopher University in Nitra. Part of De Gruyter Open.

  • Languages covered: all.
  • Subfields covered: all.

Travaux interdisciplinaires sur la parole et le langage

French-language journal. Part of OpenEdition.

  • Languages covered: all.
  • Subfields covered: all.

Werkwinkel: Journal of Low Countries and South African Studies

Journal of of Adam Mickiewicz University. Part of De Gruyter Open.

  • Languages covered: Dutch, Flemish, Afrikaans.
  • Subfields covered: all.

Zeitschrift für Sprachwissenschaft

The journal of the German Linguistics Society (DGfS). Covers all aspects of linguistics.

  • Languages covered: all.
  • Subfields covered: all.
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Historical Syntax goes Gold!

As of today (1st July), the Historical Syntax section of Language is now an independent journal!

The new Journal of Historical Syntax is fully Gold Open Access, with no charge to either authors or readers (sometimes called “platinum” or “diamond” OA). Alongside full-length peer-reviewed articles and squibs, the new journal will also host book reviews. It’s hosted by KIM at the University of Konstanz.

Make sure you follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook to keep up with the latest articles!

Caitlin Light has stepped down as editor, and the board would like to thank her for her hard work in managing submissions and raising the journal’s profile, as well as wishing her all the best for the future. George Walkden (AKA me) will carry on as editor-in-chief. Lauren Fonteyn (University of Manchester) and Marieke Meelen (University of Cambridge) are stepping up as editors, and Moreno Mitrović and Christina Sevdali have joined the advisory board.

The existing section of Language has closed its doors to new submissions, but there are still a number of papers in the pipeline, so keep an eye out there too! Once the one-year embargo has passed, all papers from Language will be republished on the new site, with the authors’ permission. All the old content from the journal’s 2011-2013 incarnation has been republished there as well. We’d like to thank the LSA, and in particular Greg Carlson and Andries Coetzee, for all their help and support over the years.

Our mission stays the same: to publish theoretically-informed and philologically rigorous papers in diachronic and historical syntax, with no bias as to framework. If you have any questions, or are thinking of submitting a paper, contact George, Lauren or Marieke or pester us on Twitter or Facebook and we’ll get right back to you!

Brill partners with ScienceOpen

Brill Publishers are not just a long-established linguistics publisher – they’ve also demonstrated in recent years that they’re ahead of the game, by spearheading the charge towards Open Access in journal publishing. Brill has now partnered with rapidly-growing new kid on the block ScienceOpen to share content from three of its journals: the no-fees Gold OA journal Indo-European Linguistics, the Gold OA Journal of Greek Linguistics, and the sporadically OA Language Dynamics and Change.

I’ve added content from these three journals to my collection on Language Change at ScienceOpen. See my editorial for more details!

Open Handbooks in Linguistics

One to watch is the new initiative Open Handbooks in Linguistics. From their blurb: “We consider the open access publishing model to be especially important for handbooks for the following reasons:

  • Handbooks can represent a significant benefit to scholars around the world with limited or no access to commercial publishers’ book products, since they summarize current research in a compact and organized fashion.
  • Commercial publishers in our field are producing many more handbooks than in the past, since they represent a significant profit opportunity. Many linguist-hours are being poured into these volumes, but their focus and direction is being at least partly driven by publishers’ goals, rather than by the field’s needs.
  • Open exchange of ideas is essential to the advancement of science, and open access to our research products is therefore a key priority for our field, as for all scientific work.”

Open Access Linguistics: You’re Doing It Wrong

Note: this post first appeared on my personal blog in 2014.


If you’re a linguist – any kind of linguist – then you, like me, will probably have received an email from the Open Journal of Modern Linguistics, inviting you to submit your work.

I’m extremely committed to open access in linguistics, and in academia more broadly; here’s why. But OJML is doing it wrong, and the rest of this post aims to explain why. The tl;dr list version of this post is as follows:

  • Don’t ever submit your work to OJML.
  • Tell your friends never to submit to OJML.
  • If you know someone who’s on the editorial board, gently ask them not to be.

So, what’s so very wrong with OJML? The short answer is that it is run by the wrong people and threatens to bring the entire, very promising, open access movement into disrepute by charging stupidly high APCs and skimping on quality both in terms of typesetting and intellectually.

The “costs” of progress: predatory publishers

Let’s take a look at OJML’s guidelines on Article Processing Charges (APCs). It’s $600 per article, but only if that article is within ten printed pages: in linguistics, that’s barely out of squib status. For each additional page above ten, an extra $50 is whacked on.

This may not seem like much, given that Elsevier charge up to $5000. But for a 20-page article, which is still short by linguistics standards, we’re talking $1100. Moreover, this kind of incremental model penalizes thorough argumentation and, in particular, proper referencing. It might even not be so bad if what you paid for was worth it – but I’ll argue below that it isn’t even close.

The open access community has a name for this kind of publishing practice: “predatory”. Jeffrey Beall maintains a list of predatory publishers on his website, along with criteria for inclusion. Surprise, surprise: “Scientific Research Publishing” (SCIRP), the publishers of OJML, are on the list at number 206.

What’s in it for them? Large amounts of money, made from academics’ naivety. Last year, journalist John Bohannon conducted a “sting” operation by submitting a series of 304 deliberately deeply flawed manuscripts by fictional authors to gold open access journals, many of them ostensibly peer-reviewed. More than half of them accepted the papers, including many that apparently sent the paper out for review, and 16 journals accepted the papers despite the reviewers spotting their damning flaws.

The journal Science, who hosted Bohannon’s piece, were keen to trumpet the failure of open access (unsurprisingly, as they represent the status quo that open access threatens). However, there are a lot of problems with Bohannon’s approach, which have been ably summarized elsewhere. In particular, since Bohannon didn’t include a “control group” of traditional subscription journals, there’s no evidence that open access peer review practices are any worse than those. And even if they were, the existence of exploitative behaviour within open access of course doesn’t entail that open access itself is a bad thing. But it’s clear from Bohannon’s experiences and those of others that, where there are new ways of making shady money, there will be crooks who leap to seize them, and that gold open access (and OJML) simply illustrates one instance of this general principle.

Bad production standards

One of the areas where any publisher can claim to add value is in ensuring the formal quality of their published submissions: typesetting, copy-editing, proofreading, redrawing complex diagrams or illustrations, etc. If a publisher does this well, they may merit at least some of the fees that they typically charge for open access. However, OJML’s performance in this area shows that they hardly even look at the papers they publish. Here are some examples from Muriungi, Mutegi & Karuri’s 2014 paper on the syntax of wh-questions in Gichuka (which, at 23 pages, must have cost them a pretty penny):

  • Glosses are not aligned (e.g. in (6) on p2).
  • The header refers to the authors, ridiculously, as “M. K. Peter et al”.
  • There are clauses which contain clear typographical errors, e.g. “the particle ni which in Bantu, which is referred to as the focus marker”, on p3.
  • In (17), the proper name “jakob” is not capitalized.
  • There are spelling errors: “Intermadiate”, in table 1, p8.
  • The tree on p14 has been brutally mangled.
  • Some of the references are incomprehensible garbage: “Norberto (2004). Wh-Movement. http.www.quiben.org/wp.content/uploads”

A quick glance through any OJML paper will reveal that these aren’t isolated occurrences, and little of this is likely to be the fault of the authors: at least, any linguistically-informed copy-editor or proofreader should have picked up on all of these points instantly, and any proofreader at all should have picked up on most of them.

Low quality papers

What about the academic quality of the papers accepted? I don’t want to pick on any particular paper: in fact, I’m sure that there are nuggets of gold in there (the Muriungi et al. paper mentioned above, for instance, is a valuable syntactic description of an aspect of an understudied language). But I invite you to skim some of the papers and draw your own conclusions.

In particular, the dates of acceptance and revision of the papers aren’t exactly indicative of a thorough review process. For instance, the paper by Muriungi et al. was “Received 7 June 2013; revised 9 July 2013; accepted 18 July 2013”. Again, this isn’t unusual for the papers in this journal. It’s certainly not impossible for quality peer review to take place at this speed – and it’s certainly desirable to move away from the unacceptable slowness of some of the big-name journals – but it is at least doubtful. And one thing that is extremely eerie is how many of the articles are dated as having been revised exactly one month after receipt, suggesting that the process may have been even shorter and that SCIRP is trying to cover itself, by means of outright lies, against exactly the kind of allegation I’m making.

The fields of linguistics given under their Aims & Scope don’t inspire confidence, either, with “Cosmic Linguistics” and “Paralinguistics” among them.

Why is this important?

OJML is symptomatic of exactly the wrong approach to open access. Open access, to me, is about disintermediation, about putting power back into the hands of academics. There are several good open access operators out there: Language Science Press is a prime example in the domain of books, the e-journal Semantics and Pragmatics has been performing a valuable no-fees open access service for years, and the Linguistic Society of America recently took a step in the right direction by making papers in its flagship journal Language openly accessible after a one-year embargo period. These initiatives are all run by researchers, for researchers.

In contrast, OJML is about opportunistic money-making. Here’s a quote from SCIRP’s About page, in relation to why their base of operations is in China while they’re registered as a corporation in Delaware: “What SCIRP does is to seize the current global trade possibilities to
ensure its legitimate freedom with regard to where to do what.” If this sort of creepy graspingness doesn’t put you off submitting to OJML, and the problems outlined in the previous sections don’t either, then I don’t know what will.

Unless we nip this problem in the bud, then it threatens to damage the reputation of the Open Access movement more generally. Time to boycott OJML, and to spread the word.

The case for Open Access

Note: this is a modified version of an original which appeared here in 2013. A few things have changed since then, but the rationale behind this post hasn’t.


A large proportion of academic research in the UK is taxpayer-funded. The money comes either via grants from the Research Councils, on which the government spends approximately £3 billion each year, or directly to universities from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), which in 2011-12 distributed £1.6 billion.

The transformative potential of world-class research is pretty clear. In the last few years alone, UK researchers have developed the wonder material graphene and discovered the body of Richard III, among other things. Yet, in a curious and inequitable twist of fate, the results of this research have for the most part never been made available to the taxpayers who funded it.

Instead, research findings are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals run by private publishing companies. In the modern era, these largely take the form of PDFs behind pay-walls, tantalisingly close and yet inaccessible to those who aren’t willing to fork out $40 per view. Universities and libraries, meanwhile, can buy back-breakingly expensive subscriptions to this content. The net result of all this is that research findings are available only to the wealthy and to research institutions themselves, and even then only at great cost.

It’s hardly surprising, then, that in the last few years people have begun to comment on how deeply perverse and unfair this system is. The culmination of this trend in the UK is a document called the Finch Report, produced by a group of academics, funders and publishers. Published in summer 2012, the report delivers a number of recommendations to all the bodies involved. Its key conclusion is that the UK should abandon the traditional subscription-based model of publication and embrace Open Access (OA).

OA itself is hardly a new idea; in many ways it co-evolved with the digital age. It’s been around since the early 1990s in its current form, and the roots of the movement can be traced back even further. The Budapest Open Access Initiative crystallized its main methods and objectives: “to make research free and available to anyone with a computer and an internet connection”. However, only in the last few years has it entered the mainstream academic consciousness in the UK. The shift has been sudden and dramatic, and the effects of the Finch Report are still making themselves felt. HEFCE and the UK Research Councils have published responses to the report, enshrining OA as a requirement for future taxpayer-funded research outputs.

It might seem as if OA would be welcomed by all involved, but the reality is that reactions among the academic community have been mixed. The reasons aren’t hard to understand: the Finch Report proposes to shift the cost of research publication from the consumer to the producer, via a mechanism of Article Processing Charges (APCs). Under this new business model, research findings will indeed be free for the reader, and accessible to the taxpayer. It’s the researcher who must shell out for the “privilege” of making their findings known to the world. Unsurprisingly, this “pay-to-say” model has been criticised. A comparison with the creative industries may help to indicate why: an industry in which musicians, or authors, must themselves pay through the nose in order to make their work accessible to the world doesn’t exactly inspire artistic confidence. Making APCs the primary route to funding of research findings amounts to encouraging vanity publication, and has the potential to crush independent researchers and smaller research institutions.

The Research Councils have promised to make substantial funding available to universities to enable them to foot the APC bill, but problems remain. For one thing, it’s not clear whether this new funding will in fact cover the costs, which can in some instances be astronomical: I was recently offered the option of paying $3000 to Elsevier in order to make an article that had been accepted to one of their journals freely available. If decisions must be made about which articles get their APCs paid, who will make those decisions, and on what basis?

The key to resolving these issues lies in a more radical rethink of academic publishing than envisaged by the Finch Report. The report rightly identifies the need for a transfer of costs, but implicitly assumes that the costs themselves must remain at the same level as they are at present. Given that the panel responsible for the report included representatives from publishing companies such as Wiley-Blackwell and Springer, this is to be expected. The report mentions the possibility of “disintermediation”, defined as a reduction of the role of intermediaries such as publishers, but the possibility is cursorily skipped over. There is reason to believe, however, that this sort of disintermediation is exactly what academic publishing needs. As George Monbiot has argued, it is questionable whether academic publishers really add value at all – and yet for-profit publishers such as Elsevier operate with seriously substantial profit margins. Meanwhile, in what is perhaps the best-kept non-secret of the business, the real drivers of the process – editors and reviewers – are for the most part paid nothing at all, but assume their roles out of the goodness of their hearts, confident that they are helping to ensure rigour in their chosen field.

What are the real costs of running a journal, then? In the digital age, print editions of journals are at best a quaint reminder of the past and at worst a waste of space; every journal worth its salt is available online. Online publishing is quick and cheap: the only costs are hosting (minimal), typesetting, and marketing (which can largely be carried out on the basis of word-of-mouth networks that already exist within academic disciplines). A perfect case study is provided by the eLanguage programme, a digital publishing platform for academic journals in my own field, linguistics. Hosting here is funded by a learned society, the Linguistic Society of America, leaving journals to meet the costs of typesetting, which in many cases can be carried out on a voluntary basis (just like the more arduous task of peer review).

Faced with this type of business model, the arguments against OA evaporate. The funds provided by the Research Councils for the purposes of paying APCs can, and should, be re-purposed to directly fund the operation of a new generation of free-to-view, free-to-publish academic journals. All that is standing in the way of this position is an attachment on the part of policy-makers to the role of traditional publishing companies – an attachment which can, and should, be questioned.