There has been quite a lot of discussion recently about the ethics of publicly-funded research often only being available through subscription-only journals. (Much of it sparked off by this article by George Monbiot in the Grauniad.)
One thought I had at the time was that if academics collectively did more to make use of existing self-archiving policies this might open things up a bit. I hadn’t then had the time or energy to follow this up myself but a search of the Sherpa/Romeo database makes clear how restrictive the archiving policies of most academic journals are. (There are some notable exceptions – Cambridge Journals having a good general archiving policing.) Most only permit posting of pre-print copies (meaning pre-refereed). So, if you want peer-reviewed content you’ve still got to pay for it.
Of work I’ve published in journals, only three articles (from JBS, Historical Journal and Huntington Library Quarterly) could be uploaded in final PDF form. I’ve added them to my academic.edu profile in case anyone is interested….they’re not exactly hot-off-the-press.
I don’t have any brilliant solutions to this problem myself but it does seem to me that journal editors might think about their archiving policies and whether they are too restrictive. The approach of titles like Journal of British Studies seems to me the fairest for all parties.