Actually, my experience has generally been that very young researchers (Masters and Ph.D students and new postdocs) and very established researchers are quite keen on shifting the world to open-access. It's those in between -- several postdocs in, tenure-track and recently tenured -- who tend to cling to the old and familiar.
There are responsible scientific societies, yes. But the ACS certainly is not one of them, as this librarian explains.
I don't feel an exploitative publishing operation should get an easy ride just for being owned by a scholarly society rather than a commercial concern. The bottom line for me is that if a publisher actually publishes -- that is, makes public -- then it's a Good Guy, whether it's for-profit like BMC, non-profit like PLOS, or an enlightened society. But if it puts research behind paywalls, then I am just not interested in hearing any excuses. That is wrong, whatever use the profits are put to.
I agree that all these things are important. But what I also see is that PeerJ facilitates them all! For example, it works against the secrecy that you mention by publishing the full submission, review and revision history of articles -- here is mine. The rapid turnaround (ten weeks in this case for a pretty monstrous paper) means that quick communications are possible. And the pay-once-publish-all-you-want buffet means that once I've upgraded to the $299 plan, there will be nothing stopping me from submitting all the micro-papers I want.
So I would say the PeerJ is about half a dozen steps in the right direction.
I very much doubt that you could. This was a substantial and very technical paper, which comes out at 41 pages in the PDF version, which went through peer-review by two scientists and expert editorial handling before going to typesetters -- a misnomer since their job is actually to mark the manuscript up semantically so it can be expressed in NLM-format XML -- after which there were two rounds of proofing. It's quite an undertaking, and requires specialist skills.
And remember, to undercut PeerJ's $99, you'd need to do one of these for me every year until I die, for no further payment.
For one thing, PLOS ONE (with a very respectable impact factor of 4.411 for those who care about such things) covers all of science. If you've written a scientific paper you can submit it there; and if it's scientifically sound it will be published (irrespective of whether or not it seems likely to be "significant", or to say what we really mean by that, "fashionable"). If you don't have institutional funding to pay the article processing charge, they will give a no-questions-asked waiver -- as they have done with my colleagues in the past.
Since I covered all this in the article, I wonder whether maybe the issue here isn't that it's "a remarkably poorly written, belligerent piece", but that you read it remarkably poorly and beligerently?
BTW., I probably shouldn't respond to the ad hominem part of this comment, but anyone who also wonder whether I'm a particularly respected researcher in my field (palaeontology): no, I'm not. I am a very ordinary researcher, putting out a paper or two each year, and naming the occasional new dinosaur. My papers are solid but not groundbreaking. Anyone who'd like to judge for themsleves can read them as on my website (where they are all, of course, freely available).
Please do go back and check what I wrote in the Guardian! I didn't at all say that we shouldn't publish in journals, but that we should publish in open access journals. There are plenty of these around now -- over 8000 are listed at doaj.org -- and lots of them are prestigious within their fields.
But in fact no-one -- company or individual -- has been left out. The document that the RCUK issued a few days ago is a draft for comment, and everyone who has an opinion is invited to submit it to RCUK at firstname.lastname@example.org
I encourage you, and every other reader to do so, even if your comment is very short and general. It's important that RCUK feel the weight of public opinion.
Here is the point: the profits of non-open publishers such as Elsevier overwhelmingly come out of money spent by academic libraries for access to paywalled contant. That money in turn comes from the universities whose libraries they are. If all the universities instead spent that same money on open-access publishing charges, then they would have overwhelmingly enough to fund ALL research many times over, and all of it open to the world.