Royal Society tries open access
Britain's national science academy has been one of the most vocal critics of making papers freely available
Britain?s Royal Society dipped a cautious toe
into the waters of open access
publishing this week, allowing authors whose papers are accepted by any of its seven journals to pay a fee and have their work made freely available on the web.
The society?s officials have expressed serious doubts
about open access on several occasions in the past. Although they are still concerned by a lack of evidence about the sustainability of the model, they hope the experiment will ultimately be a success, spokesman Bob Ward told The Scientist
?It?s a toe in the water, but it?s not based on an expectation that it will fail -- we expect that it will succeed,? he said. ?We are also hoping that this will allow us to gather some evidence that the whole sector can use.?
The first paper published
under the new system appears in Proceedings of the Royal Society B
. Lead author Neil Roach from the University of Nottingham and his co-author were funded by the Wellcome Trust
, one of the strongest advocates of open access, which also paid the Royal Society?s publication fees. "I am very pleased that the Royal Society has developed a model for open access publishing and that a piece of Wellcome Trust funded research is the first to gain from this new policy and be made freely available to all,? said Mark Walport, director of the trust, in a statement.
, director of the Open Access Project at Public Knowledge, also welcomed the society?s decision to try out a ?hybrid? model -- combining open access with the traditional publishing system. ?The Royal Society is trying the hybrid model for the right reasons,? he said in his blog, ?to see how well it works, to answer critics, and to measure the demand.?
But Suber said the plan was also flawed, pointing out that the society will not waive its fees in cases of economic hardship, will not apparently let authors choosing the new option retain copyright, and will not apparently deposit its open access articles in a repository.
The fees for the new service are higher than those charged by open access publishers. Authors who choose to pay to make their papers immediately available on the web will be charged £200 ($370) per journal page for Proceedings A, Phil Trans A, and Notes and Records
, or £300 ($550) per journal page for Proceedings B, Phil Trans B, Biology Letters
, and Interface
For a 10-page article like Roach?s, that adds up to £3000 ($5500). This is more than double the fees at US open access publisher Public Library of Science
, which charges up to $2,500 per article
for its flagship journals.
Ward said the fee was an accurate reflection of the cost of publishing a paper. ?People need to understand the cost of doing this,? he said. Still, the society remains concerned that the costs of open access publishing will be prohibitive for some researchers, he noted.
Links within this article
Royal Society launches trial of new ?open access? journal service, June 21, 2006.
S. Pincock, "UK committee backs open access," The Scientist
, July 20, 2004.
S. Pincock, ?Royal Soc. attacked on open access,? The Scientist
, December 9, 2005.
N. Roach, et al, ?Entitled Resolving multisensory conflict: a strategy for balancing the costs and benefits of audio-visual integration,? Proceedings of the Royal Society B
S. Pincock, ?Wellcome insists on open access,? The Scientist
, May 19, 2005.
Peter Suber, Open Access News
D. Secko, ?Author fee spikes at PLoS,? The Scientist
, June 19, 2006.