The problem with publishing scientific articles with the traditional publishing companies is
1. Usually, the Federal government (e.g., NSF, NASA, NIH, etc.) pay for the research.
2. The University pays the salary of the researcher who writes the paper.
3. The researcher submits the paper to the publishing company and the Science Editor (usually a volunteer) finds reviewers (volunteers) to review the paper.
4. The Researcher pays the publishing company to publish his or her paper.
5. The University pays the publishing company for a subscription to access the journal article.
6. The taxpayers that paid for the research cannot access the journal article without paying for an expensive subscription.
Does something appear to be wrong with this picture? Why do we need the publishing company?? Other than the production of hardcopy books, they really are not necessary. And the Direct Publishing/Print on Demand movement has shown that it is possible to publish hard copy documents and make them available to a mass market.
The following links provide detailed information related to the problems with the old publishing model and ideas for moving toward more open access.