There is a pervasive misconception concerning the much used slogan of Open Access: « Publicly funded research must be made public freely ». The claim is based on the logic that public funders should not pay twice: first for research, then for its publication. In fact, the cost of publication should be included in the cost of research, but in real cost-based pricing while access to reading should be free.
But the misconception is elsewhere. It lies in the identity of the reader. It is true that, when a research ‘paper’ is available on the Internet, everybody who has computer access to it can read it. However, in almost all cases, access is required, specifically searched for and effectively used by scholars and professionals, not by any layperson.
Hence, the debate is derailing when it comes to support Open Access on the controversial basis that the general public should have access to research results freely. The real cause to defend is that scholars whose research can benefit from the reading have free access as soon as a ‘paper’ is peer reviewed and accepted for publication. The rest is cherry on the cake.