The debate around Open Access is surprisingly ignoring one important milestone: the TeX software for generating high-quality papers. Let us first take a look into the old publications by Donald E. Knuth from the 1970s in which he descibed the general idea. The early books about TeX are fresh even today, because they start not with computerprogramming itself, but a history lesson about linotype printers. From that base, Donald Knuth develops a text-language not for describing the final Postscript page, but for generating such a page out of a markup language. Everybody who is familiar with the UNIX operating system knows, that TeX is equal to troff, but with more features. Surprisingly outside of the hacker community, most scientists are not aware of TeX. :And if the know the system, because the standardtemplates of IEEE and Elsevier are based on TeX they thing the software is not very important or is outdated today.
Is TeX already relevant for publishing a paper? Yes, instead of many attempts to make TeX obsolete, the software is more important than before. Not in his original iteration, as the TeX system plus a DVI previewer, but in a improved version, called Xelatex together with the PDF format and modern Truetype fonts.
The question is, why is the TeX community obsessed by typesetting itself? Is it really important in which font a paper was written or if the linebreaking is correct? The reason why such details are discussed has to do with the aspect, that the people have time to think about it. Usually the paper itself is written in a very short time. The author enters the text, presses the run button, and the perfect formatted pdf paper is there. The pipeline is more efficient compared to MS-Word or Framemaker from Adobe. And that means, the author who has typed in the text has produced his text in half of the time, and has enough time for discussion details, for example, which font is really good. Instead, users of MS-Word have no such freetime, because they are involved in creating the manuscript itself. They are happy, if all the figures are visible and if the pdf paper is generated without crashing the computer.
Why not more people are familiar with TeX is simple: the people involved in higher educatation and the university system have simply not a background in computerscience. They see themself as historians, physicians and something between them, but not as a computer scientists or as a hacker. That results into ignorance in relation to TeX. For example, let us take a look in the last paper of Richard Price, http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article/file?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0148257&type=printable The pdf file was created with the Acrobat Distiller in the Windows operating system and the software for entering the text is “Arbortext Advanced”. That means, Price or better his publisher at PLOS One is not familiar with TeX. Instead a proprietary MS-Word like program was used, which is compared to TeX very time-consuming.
But why is TeX not used heavily by Academic publishers? The answer has to do with copyright law. TeX and UNIX are both results of the hacker community. Their philosophy is OpenSource and free flow of information. That is not compatible with academics itself. Either physics based science nor academics are sharing these goals. Instead, the hacker community is isolated. Using a propriatary MS-Windows operating system with a 1000 US$ program for entering the text works more in a way like traditional academics. That means, the aim is not be open, but restrict the circulation of papers, create paywalls and increase the costs for reproducing the work.
The reason why TeX is not used heavily by publishers is because the software is too advanced. Their main features are: no costs and fast formatting of a paper. This is from the point of view of mainstream academics a problem. If somebody is trying to protect information, block knowledge and holding normal people out of the process TeX is something which has to be overcome. Not using TeX is the shared identity of todays publishers because it helps them to distribute copyright-protected journals.