The charm of the open access model has been discussed quite a bit recently. Harvard just decided to make all of their own research papers freeanything associated with their own researchers or students can be downloaded at no charge. There are other models for open access worth mentioning. Of course, how could I not mention AIP's own Biomicrofluidics (disclaimer: I am an AIP employee).
There is the Public Library of Science, run rather successfully by former bio researchers. In addition, any research funded by the National Institutes of Health will (supposedly) be made free on their PubMed site. An older model of open-access that was developed for physicists is arXiv.org. I like to think that physicists are always a little bit ahead of the curve (disclaimer: I have a physics degree). It should be noted that some stuff on arXiv.org is pre-publication, meaning that it hasn't been peer-reviewed and shouldn't be considered the final version of the researcher's vision, but there are a lot of published papers. As a sidenote, the Institute of Physics has developed a supposedly friendlier interface for arXiv.org, it's called eprintweb.org, and allows you to create online bookmarks for arXiv.org articles that you like, along with a few other features.
Anyway, it's a nice thought to come across articles on arXiv that someone might not be able to read otherwise. A couple days ago, I found a neat article on droplet traffic in microfluidic networks. The article was published in Physics Review Letters on January 28, 2008, but was submitted to arXiv.org on December 20, 2007.
Once we get past all of the gobbledygook (pardon the technical language), we can actually talk about the content of the article. The authorsDrs. Schindler and Ajdari from the Laboratoire de Physico-Chimie Théorique in Parishave built what they call "microfluidic dual networks" which they use to analyze the traffic of microfluidic droplets. The researchers hope to stimulate further experiments with passive microfluidics, and present a "simple yet efficient fast numerical tool" for this analysis.
Even though the research is now published in a highly-respected journal, they're practically giving their idea away on arXiv.org. The extent to which this one article can be freely obtained presents researchers with important options for accessing research, even if it's not published yet. The biggest challenge, though, probably belongs to publishers. Some of whom probably see the situation as a real obstacle to overcome. Others, though, probably hope to be able to employ these open-access ideas with some success. These kind of questions are probably outside the scope of Biomicrofludics, although BMF's publishing model may have an influence on what's to come. It's impossible to predict how the public and publishers are going to respond to all of this gobbledygook.