"The costs of open access publishing in BMC are comparable to traditional subscriptions, Matthew Cockerill, publisher of BMC (a sister company of The Scientist) told The Scientist. But, he added, as opposed to fixed rates for subscription journals, open access publishing costs continue to rise as more authors submit their articles for publication, demanding more resources for peer review, layout, processing, and internet servers."
\nThe above paragraph represents a misunderstanding - it gives the impression that subscription journals are able to publish an indefinite amount of research at a flat cost. Clearly this is not the case. Subscription journals are no different to open access journals in this respect ? the costs to the publisher goes up as more articles are published, and those increased costs are generally passed on to the customer. This was acknowledged by Reed Elsevier CEO Crispin Davis, giving evidence
to the House of Commons Science & Technology Committee in March 2004:\n
"On pricing, we have put our prices up over the last five years by between 6.2 per cent and 7.5 per cent a year, so between six and seven and a half per cent has been the average price increase. During that period the number of new research articles we have published each year has increased by an average of three to five per cent a year. [...] Against those kinds of increases we think that the price rises of six to seven and a half per cent are justified."
\nThanks to strong support from the scientific community, open access publishing is growing at a much faster proportionate rate than traditional publishing, and so the growth of the costs involved is more noticeable. But in both cases there is an clear relationship between the underlying cost and the number of articles published.\n \nOne angle that is unfortunately missing from The Scientist's article is the perspective of a research funder. As discussed in BioMed Central's public response
to Yale, funders are now playing a key role in helping libraries to cover the costs of open access, at least in a transitional phase while the bulk of libraries budgets remains continues to pay for subscriptions.\n \nIt should also not be forgotten that open access is not just an additional cost - it is already providing cost-savings for libraries. For example, three of the top journals in computational biology (BMC Bioinformatics
, PLoS Computational Biology
and Nucleic Acids Research
) are fully open access, and the subscription price of a fourth journal in the field (Bioinformatics
) was recently reduced
by 19% to reflect the increasing proportion of open access content in the journal. Clearly, open access is helping to keep library subscription costs down in this area. Many major publishers including Springer and Oxford University Press have pledged to reduce subscription costs on all their journals proportionately, as they publish more open access articles, helping to enable a progressive transition in the allocation of library budgets. \n