An article: Attracted to open access journals: A bibliometric author analysis in the field of biology, by Tove Faber Frandsen, Journal of Documentation 2009; 65(1): 58-82, has stimulated a debate. A preprint is available here and here.
For some of the debate, see the blog post: Open Access: No Benefit for Poor Scientists by Philip Davis (The Scholarly Kitchen, January 14, 2009) and the responses to this post.
For excerpts from the article, from the blog post, and from the responses to the blog post, see: Appeal of OA journals about the same in the North and the South by Peter Suber, Open Access News, January 12, 2008.
There’s also some contributions to the debate in a thread: Comparing OA/non-OA in Developing Countries, available via the 2009 archives of the American Scientist Open Access Forum. The 3rd contribution to this thread is by Jean-Claude Guédon (January 14, 2008). Excerpts:
A strong reason why many authors in non-OECD countries do not publish in OA journals is because the evaluation rules applied in many of these countries often rely on a mechanical use of impact factors. This is what the evaluation of “quality” amounts to in such cases, and this fact deeply distorts the way in which authors choose their journals, especially when impact factors are limited to the results provided by Thomson Reuters.
Quality is like a passing grade; excellence is like a prize. If careers are first evaluated from the perspective of passing grades, and then from the perspective of prizes, many confusions will disappear and many countries will discover that, while the great majority of their researchers may simply be passing some grades, they are nonetheless terribly useful to the country’s economy and culture.
Comment: I agree with Jean-Claude.