If it wasn’t so well-established, the traditional model of academic publishing would be considered scandalous. Every year, hundreds of billions in research and data are funded, in whole or in part, with public dollars. We do this because we believe that knowledge is for the public good, but the public gets very little access to the fruits of its investment. In the US, the combined value of government, non-profit, and university-funded research in 2013 was over $158 billion—about a third of all the R&D in the US that year. Publishers acquire this research free of charge, and retain the copyrights, even though the public funded the work. Researchers aren’t paid by publishers for their research as it’s sold piece-by-piece or by subscription through academic journals. The reviewers who evaluate the research aren’t paid either. So we pay for it, and then we have to pay again if we want to read it.
My slightly abridged version of this sentiment [PG-13 below the fold]:
I checked a few of my non-open access articles, and some of them (e.g. DOIs 10.1073/pnas.0811205106, 10.1016/j.ympev.2003.09.015) are on Sci-Hub.