It's hard for outsiders to see how hard it is to solve the journal problem.
There are lots of open-access journals that are free to read and free for the author. There are also lots of them that are free to read but the author needs to pay a fee. Why doesn't everyone switch to publishing in these? Lots of people have
. But most haven't. Two reasons:
1) These journals aren't as "prestigious" as the journals owned by the evil Big Three publishers: Elsevier, Springer, and Wiley-Blackwell. In the last 30 years the Big Three bought most of the really "prestigious" journals - and a journal can't become "prestigious" overnight, so while things are changing, they're changing slowly.
Publishing in a "prestigious" journal helps you get hired, promoted, and get grants. "Prestige" is not a vague thing: it's even measured numerically using something called the Impact Factor. It may be baloney, but it is collectively agreed-upon baloney. Trying to make it go away is like trying to make money
go away: people would not know what to do without it.
2) It's not the professors who pay the outrageous subscription fees for journals - it's the university libraries. So nothing instantly punishes the professors for publishing in "prestigious" but highly expensive journals, except
the nasty rules about resharing journal articles, which however are invisible
if you live in a world of professors where everyone has library access!
So, the problem is hard to solve. A government approach like +Daniel Lemire
suggests could work, and indeed the US National Institute of Health has
mandated a certain amount of open access. But - surprise, surprise - the Big Three publishers have a lot of money, and they're paying lobbyists and congresspeople to fight for less
open access, not more.
So, the fight is hard. But we'll win anyway.