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Opinion: Academic Publishing Is Broken

The current system by which academics publish their scientific discoveries is a massive waste of money.

By | March 19, 2012

FLICKR, DULLHUNK

Academic publishers are currently up in arms about the Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA)—a bill that has the perfectly reasonable goal of making publicly funded research available to the public that funded it. Tom Allen, president of the American Association of Publishers, described it rather hysterically as “intellectual eminent domain, but without fair compensation.” Why are he and his colleagues so desperate to retain the current business model?

By any objective standard, academic publishing is a very strange business indeed. It became established at a time when all publishing was on paper, when duplication and delivery were demanding problems, and when publishers provided an important service to researchers. Now, as the Internet is dramatically changing other forms of publishing, academic journals seem stuck in the 1980s, with results both comical and disastrous.

Let's take a look at the flow of money in the production of research. The government takes tax revenue from citizens and uses it to fund university research groups and libraries. Researchers obtain government grants and use the money to conduct experiments. They write up the results in manuscripts that are destined to become published papers. Manuscripts are submitted to journals, where they are handled by other researchers acting as unpaid volunteer editors. They co-ordinate the process of peer-review, which is done by yet other researchers, also unpaid. All these roles—author, editor, reviewer—are considered normal responsibilities of researchers, funded by grants.

At this point, researchers have worked together to produce a publication-ready, peer-reviewed manuscript. But rather than posting it on the Web, where it can contribute to the world's knowledge, form a basis for future work, and earn prestige for the author, the finished manuscript is then donated gratis to a publisher: the author signs away copyright. The publisher then formats the manuscript and places the result behind a paywall. Then it sells subscriptions back to the universities where the work originated. Well-off universities will have some access to the paper (though even they are denied important rights such as text-mining). Less well-off universities have access to varying selections of journals, often not the ones their researchers need. And the taxpayers who funded all this? They get nothing at all. No access to the paper.

It's pretty outrageous.

With government-funded researchers providing the writing, the editing, the reviewing, and even most of the formatting, you might think that the publishers who benefit from all this would be able to do their part very cheaply, and that subscription prices would be low and falling fast. Not a bit of it: at a time when library budgets are being progressively squeezed, Elsevier—the biggest of all the academic publishers—reports a 2011 profit of £768 million on revenue of £2,058 million, an astonishing 37.3 percent, compared for example with Apple's 24 percent profit margin in their record-breaking 2011. This makes 2011 the fifth consecutive year in which Elsevier's profit margin has increased. Publishers are bleeding libraries dry: it's no wonder that subscriptions are being cancelled left, right, and center.

Since these publishers are effectively government subcontractors, you might think they would be subject to government regulation. Far from it. Even the very reasonable public-access policy of the National Institutes of Health—that authors should be allowed to post freely available copies of their unformatted manuscripts 12 months after they are published in formatted form—was recently attacked by publishers in the form of the Research Works Act, a nasty piece of legislation that would have made the NIH policy illegal. Although that act was shouted down by a researcher revolt, no one trusts that it won't be back again in another form.

In the face of the ludicrous status quo, it's no wonder that researchers are starting to turn to “Gold Open Access” publishing. Under this model, authors pay a publication fee, and the publisher makes the resulting article freely available to anyone and everyone. There are no subscriptions, and open-access publishers don't demand copyright. The taxpayers who fund research have full access, and anyone can do whatever they like with the published papers, including text-mining. The benefits to research, commerce and society are enormous.

Since open access is a manifestly superior model, we would expect it to have become ubiquitous. But depending on our definition of open access, it seems that only between 5 and 8 percent of scholarly articles are published under this model.  Why is this?

It’s certainly not due to cost. To publish in the reputable open-access journal PLoS ONE costs a publication fee of $1,350. Other open-access journals average a bit less, around $906. To publish in an Elsevier journal, on the other hand, appears to cost some $10,500. In 2011, 78 percent of Elsevier's total revenue, or £1,605 million, was contributed by journal subscriptions. In the same year, Elsevier published 240,000 articles, making the average cost per article some £6,689, or about $10,500 US.  So to publish behind a paywall with Elsevier—and make your work available to only some other researchers and no members of the public—costs nearly eight times more than publishing openly with PLoS. It's apparent that we are not getting value for money from the traditional academic publishers.

And so, the $10,500 question: why do we keep publishing with subscription-based journals? There are three reasons.

First, academic publishing is not an efficient market, because of the monopoly effect of certain journals. If you work in the field of cell biology, you simply have to have access to the journal Cell. There are no competitors that you can buy instead, because the specific papers that are published in Cell can be found nowhere else.

Second, academics tend to be conservative. So when publishers say that the current system works and there's no need to change it, academics are, surprisingly, all too ready to accept that claim.  Senior researchers can become too comfortable to rock the boat; their juniors can feel too insecure to do it.

Third, and most important, while it may cost a fraction as much money to publish in an open-access journal, those savings are not rewarded to the researchers. With open-access publishing, the researchers must pay those fees out of their own grant money, or with department funds, while subscription bills are footed by the university libraries, which have completely separate budgets. So, even though, under an open-access publishing regime, for every thousand dollars that a researcher or department spends on author fees, the library could save eight times as much in paid journal subscriptions, the division of budgets within universities (and the fact that until all publishing is open access libraries will still have to continue subscribing to paid journals) is inhibiting this transition.

So subscription-based journals continue to thrive, bringing in record revenues and profits year after year, because at the moment the status quo still represents a local maximum. We can see that there's a much higher peak just across the way, but we fear the journey because it will take us through a swamp.  Happily, two things are happening to change that.  One is that the land surrounding our peak is inexorably rising: open-access publishing options are becoming more common and more attractive.  And at the same time, the peak itself is diminishing, as the ever-increasing costs of subscriptions make the current arrangement less and less appealing.  We are heading for a moment when all paths lead uphill to a more attractive publishing paradigm. Paradoxically, the thing that could most quickly bring about this change is for publishers to keep hiking journal prices. In the long run, then, it might even be that the more exploitative subscriptions become, the better off the scientific community will be.

Michael P. Taylor is a research associate in the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Bristol. He can be reached at dino@miketaylor.org.uk.

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Avatar of: Deekva

Deekva

Posts: 2

March 19, 2012

I've never had it laid out for me just like this before; illuminating!  and thank you.

Avatar of: Witold Rudnicki

Witold Rudnicki

Posts: 1

March 19, 2012

I couldn't agree more.  One should also notice that these record profits are only after fat bonuses for management and salesmen are deducted from revenues. This business is ripe for change, Elsevier knows this and is milking the cash from the customers before the market collapses to a small fraction of the current value and publishers' role is reduced to what they really are - messengers.

Avatar of: Keith Brunt

Keith Brunt

Posts: 5

March 19, 2012

Some of the finances are not as clear cut as presented. The cost to submit a paper (the direct cost to a PI and their grant) can vary substantially. Both open access and subscription journals charge submission fees, publication fees and often color page charges. Some open-access manuscripts can cost roughly $100 in submission fee (non-refundable), ~$1500 in publication costs with an additional ~$2000 in color image costs (electronic pdfs would also not be generated without color payment, for online only). The costs are born exclusively by the grant, not typically the institution. Compare that to other subscription journal costs of a $50 submission fee and $250 in color charges. Also, there are open-access pay options in many subscription journals (albeit at somewhat restrictive cost).

While it may be cheaper to the tax payer in a broader sense to utilize open access, one should consider that a PI must choose the most appropriate impact/audience for their findings. Currently, this amounts to a mixture of open-access and subscription journals. It would be a disservice to put the added pressure and responsibility sqaurely on the PI (particularly when grants run red, but data needed to generate more funding stands in cue). In any future discussion, great care must be given to the very limited and tentative monies available for maintaining labs. Adding the direct overhead cost to a PI has to be considered either in the publishing world or by the funding agencies. Also, you focused heavily on the volunteerism of investigators to produce and peer review articles (senior editors need to meet, involving international travel costs). You did not mention administrative and editorial support staff needed to operate a journal, such as a communications officer, language editor (international journals in particular), and typesetters. Also, those handling accounts, marketing and advertising are not typically scientists. Many open-access journals also produce hard-copy which bares additional costs (though hopefully offset by advertisements). The highest impact journals are able to generate more money through marketing. It would be of interest to compare revenues and cost in more detail with greater balance.

Avatar of: F Lengyel

F Lengyel

Posts: 1

March 19, 2012

Let Elsevier open its books. Of particular interest is the revenue ending up in the executive suite.

Avatar of: pamela

pamela

Posts: 1457

March 19, 2012

 What IS your point, sir?

Avatar of: Keith Brunt

Keith Brunt

Posts: 5

March 19, 2012

The point, is that this is an opinion article that gives a very one-sided opinion, in my opinion. I think the debate is important, it just needs more information to be constructive. It doesn't consider the daily life and struggle of a PI (the people that are actually responsible for generating public research) and many others. I think the debate should be centered on cost effectiveness AND research effectiveness. This is not a debate that can be clear cut by saying it is open-access vs subscription and one is better/needed more than the other (or that one should be eliminated as some comments would suggest). There are many parties affected (funding agencies, universities, research institutes, industry, health practitioners, health insurers, the thousands of people employed by journals AND the general public). I hope that clarifies, sorry I thought the point was clear.

Avatar of: Randall Irmis

Randall Irmis

Posts: 2

March 19, 2012

 "a PI must choose the most appropriate impact/audience for their findings"

Yes - and this was addressed by Mike in his point where he brought up the journal Cell as an example.  I think's mike's point is that demand drives business models, so there would be impetus for Nature/Science/Cell to become open access if people started demanding in it or publishing elsewhere.  You are correct that there are few alternatives for top-tier journals at the moment, but open-access venues are starting to catch up with journals like PLoS Biology.

"You did not mention administrative and editorial support staff needed to
operate a journal, such as a communications officer, language editor
(international journals in particular), and typesetters."

Where do you think the open-access publishing fee goes?  Yes it pays for servers and web-development, but open access journals also pay for these staff and services.  The main thing is that electonic publishing is vastly cheaper because there are no printing costs, but Elsevier et al. have maintained their costs at print journal levels because it nets them a large profit.

Avatar of: Keith Brunt

Keith Brunt

Posts: 5

March 19, 2012

I agree with you that demand drives business models, but I failed to appreciate that concern in this article. Since you mentioned the business model evolution in publishing:
http://www.nature.com/nature/f... 

Is interference in the financial and scientific markets acceptable/necessary at this point? I don't think we are in a failed system, just an evolving one. 

In the interim, is it fair to make a case for PI's to bear the extra cost and ethical responsibility, perhaps to the detriment of their career or fiduciary duty to spend grant money effectively?

Or

Should libraries, non-profit scientific societies, and funding agencies provide further demands on publishers?

As you say open-access and subscription journals are evolving into top-tier journals, so would logically grow the number of submissions and perception among scientists.

As I mentioned in another response, if a publisher is a financial pariah, they will have a difficult future; however progress is slowly occurring and the whole system is evolving from both ends of the spectrum.

Is this article a balanced constructive opinion? or false dichotomy? 

Avatar of: rusty94114

rusty94114

Posts: 9

March 19, 2012

Good article! I'm delighted to see the increasing attention this subject is receiving. I've been waiting a long time for the day when these parasitic academic journals get dumped into the proverbial "dustbin of history".

Avatar of: EllenHunt

EllenHunt

Posts: 74

March 19, 2012

Good article. You should push the total cost angle with legislators.

Also - I think that there is another possible issue on the horizon that should be discussed. That is, the long-term life of open journals. There is quite a plethora these days. Eventually, many of those new journals will fail. What I think this means is that over time university libraries will become the repositories for academic publishing.

I don't see why the university library systems don't make this their long-term goal, and start making arrangements already. University libraries could easily get into the academic publishing business, and do quite well at it. 

Avatar of: David Hill

David Hill

Posts: 1457

March 19, 2012

Very good suggestions about the future role of libraries.  I know the publishers are already assuming the role of on-line libraries, on a pay-per-view basis.

Avatar of: William Parker

William Parker

Posts: 2

March 19, 2012

A main stumbling block is that for an author to publish in an open access journal it costs the author a fee (for example $1500 for PLoSONE), whereas to submit to a print journal, as long as length requirements are met and no color photos are needed, the cost to the AUTHOR is $0. Until this discrepancy is lessened or removed, we will not see a major exodus to open publishing. Yes, libraries are being bled dry and many people do not have access to the articles, but I would assume many authors are hesitant to drop the $1500 (or more) for open access when they can submit for free somewhere else. 

I personally try to publish as much as possible open access because my research is federally funded and I think taxpayers have the right to see the results of their monies, but asking my agency to keep shelling out $1500 a paper wears thin on them.

I've also found it amusing that even though U.S. federal employees have no copyright to sign over, these articles areas are still placed behind the paywalls.

Avatar of: Mike Taylor

Mike Taylor

Posts: 23

March 19, 2012

 (Are you the Bill Parker that I know?  Works on aetosaurs in the Petrified Forest.)

A couple of misconceptions here.  First, PLoS ONE's author fee is $1350, not £1500; but that doesn't materially affect your point.  More importantly, PLoS offer fee waivers to authors without funds.  (I know from colleagues who have taken the waiver that this is a painless process.)  Lack of publication funds should never be a reason not to publish in PLoS.

As I said, a lot of our problems come from the fact that there is a budget wall between libraries and research departments.  If we (collectively, worldwide) could cancel all our budgets an reallocate the money saved to Gold OA publication fees, there would be a huge surplus -- my figures above suggest we could save 7/8 of all that money.  The problem remains how to make that leap.

Finally, this: "I've also found it amusing that even though U.S. federal employees have
no copyright to sign over, these articles areas are still placed behind
the paywalls."  That should not amuse you.  It should make you absolutely steaming livid with rage.  And not just you, but every taxpayer who has funded your federal agency.  This is copyright theft, pure and simple.  Not copyright violation, which is what people usually mean sloppily using the term "copyright theft", but actual theft.  Taking something away from its rightful owner.

Please: kick up a stink about this.  We really mustn't tolerate it.

Avatar of: Baochaun Lin

Baochaun Lin

Posts: 1

March 19, 2012

It is a very interesting article.  I have two more points to add.  First, it may seems like PLoS One charged most for the publication fee, but it is not the highest publication fee that I had to shell out for publishing a paper.  If you have a color figures in the paper, the charge could go sky rocketing.  The other thing is that some of the subscription-based journals do offer open access publication with even higher price (>$3000).

Avatar of: Mike Taylor

Mike Taylor

Posts: 23

March 19, 2012

 I don't know of any Open Access publisher that charges extra for colour figures -- can you cite an example?  I hate to keep coming back to the example of PLoS, but they are the main player right now, and PLoS ONE very explicitly allows any length of manuscript, and any number of full-colour illustrations, videos, etc.  I believe this is pretty standard.

Avatar of: David Hill

David Hill

Posts: 1457

March 19, 2012

This is a well-written and well-researched article.  One additional point is that the professional societies have, to save money, largely dropped their support for publications, and have sold these to the for-profit companies.  Also, the for-profit companies routinely sell on-line versions of older papers, for which they have no copyright to begin with.  Many of the authors whose works are sold in this manner are now deceased, and their estates are not going to come after the publishers to demand their rights under law.  The bright sign is the growing emergence of independent digital journals like PLoS and the Journal of Insect Science, etc.  They represent the future.  The for-profit publishers are scrambling to collect as much money as they can from their investments, and rely, as the author says, on a certain level of conservatism from the academic community.  I have warned young professionals not to give away their services, their work, and their copyrights to these private businesses, however attractive they are, and however necessary they appear to those who are seeking tenure.  They need to realize that in the electronic world, a publication is not a one-time thing.  It lasts forever, either as an article of commerce or as a means of communication with a wide audience.  Take your pick.  There are some very attractive digital journals that have emerged recently, but when you look at their practices they are like wolves in sheep's clothing.  They will take your work for nothing if you let them, and they will restrict access to it in return.

I disagree with the concern over 'short-lived' publications as expressed in a comment here.  Continuity of a journal title has nothing to do with continuity of a paper.  Once a paper is out there, open access, and freely distributed, it can be immortal for all practical purposes.  It will also be read and used by many people.  I recently tried to get 'permission' to use one small figure from a paper written years ago by a long-dead author in a journal now owned by one of these private publishers.  I obviously couldn't communicate with the author about this, and the charges quoted to me by the publisher were prohibitive, although I doubt seriously that the publisher in this case really owns the copyright (as they do for more recent papers).  I guess I'll just let this work go down with the author.  Some 50 years from now it can be treated as a 'time capsule', perhaps then irrelevant, but also available in the public domain for anyone who wants to read it.

It's sad that it had to come to this, but the desperation of new Ph. D.'s and untenured professors trying to get published, and the pride of older Ph. D.'s with their honorary titles on 'editorial boards' has extended our long and difficult transition period from the world of non-profit one-time print publication by private academic societies to a new world of non-profit open-access digital publication by private academic societies.  In between, the for-profit money-hounds have emerged, driving the titles of the papers that they publish ever more into the world of headlines and catchy phrases.  It is also unfortunate that authors of all ages have gotten caught up in this world of headlines, requiring them to shamelessly parade the 'ultimate importance and significance' of their work in front of readers.  How difficult for new scientists, to have to stilt their language thusly.

Avatar of: Trevor Ogden

Trevor Ogden

Posts: 3

March 19, 2012

I edit a journal owned by a learned society published by a university press, and we have a high impact factor for our field.  The publisher's share of the profits goes to the university.  If authors publish with a commercial publisher, that is a choice they are free to make, but they do not have to, and similarly an open access choice is available for most papers.  If authors chose not to publish with a commercial publisher making a large profit, the problem would rapidly solve itself.  It is unnecessary just to grumble about it, which leaves me feeling rather impatient with this piece.  Last year I interviewed the staff of three other journals to compare how we worked.  The editorial and staff time input for three of the journals was between 4 and 9 hours per paper, with the fourth taking 14 hours.  My society is now trying to find a successor for me, and is finding that in Britain and the US, universities and research institutes are requiring the institution is compensated for their time at close to a commercial rate.  Maybe it is field specific, but I do not know a journal where the editor works for nothing, although in the past it has usually been at  less than a commercial rate.

I also think that academic publishing is broken, but not for the reason Mike Taylor gives.

Avatar of: Mike Taylor

Mike Taylor

Posts: 23

March 19, 2012

Thanks for commenting, Trevor.  (I am the author of the article.)

You are of course right that "If authors publish with a commercial publisher, that is a choice they
are free to make, but they do not have to, and similarly an open access
choice is available for most papers."  But while true that is overly simplistic.  The reality is that many (most) researchers feel strong pressure to publish in "high impact" venues, which often means (among other things) those that have been established a long time, and so have had time to build up a good reputation.  This problem is starting to ease now, with the existence of some very well-regarded open journals -- e.g. PLoS Biology was ranked top in its category in the most recent JCR -- but it's still a factor for plenty of people.  (I talk all the while with colleagues who want to go with an OA journal but feel obliged by career considerations to go elsewhere.)

Where I really disagree with you, though. is in "It is unnecessary just to grumble about it".  I think it is absolutely crucial to grumble loudly and publicly about the current broken system -- that is the only way to raise awareness of the problem, and generate the will to change it.  Without such prodding, too many academics will just keep doing what they've always done: not because they like or approve of the current system, but because the issue is simply not on their radar.

Finally, on: "Maybe it is field specific, but I do not know a journal where the editor works for nothing."  Maybe it is different in different fields, but I can tell you that I know plenty of associate editors in vertebrate palaeontology.  They fall into two categories: the majority, who are not paid at all, and a minority who receive a nominal stipend.  (Among the latter, one representative is a colleague who is paid an annual stipend of $250, i.e. $5 per week, for acting as an editor at an Elsevier journal.  He estimates that he spends 5-10 hours per week on this, so he is being paid somewhere between 50¢ and $1 per hour -- 7-14% of federal minimum wage.)

Avatar of: Trevor Ogden

Trevor Ogden

Posts: 3

March 19, 2012

I didn't want to get on to individual publishers, but as you illustrate in your article, Mike, Elsevier are an outstanding example of making a profit which it is hard to justify.  But on the other hand, there was a medical journal amongst the four I looked at where I gather the journal pays the university of the editor for a day a week at British clinical professor rate.  And as I say, my own society is now contemplating comparable (non-medical) rates.

Avatar of: Richard Poynder

Richard Poynder

Posts: 1

March 19, 2012

Investment analyst Claudio Aspesi crunches the numbers differently: "In 2011 Elsevier had total revenues of £2058 million. S&T
journals account for about 45% of that (the company does not disclose
the exact number), so that would make it £926 million. Assuming that the
average operating margin of Elsevier (37%) applies to journals as well,
costs would be £583 million. Since they publish about 230,000
articles/year, that comes to £2,536/article, which seems much more in
line with what PLoS charges."

http://bit.ly/yO1RWn

Avatar of: Trevor Ogden

Trevor Ogden

Posts: 3

March 19, 2012

I meant to add also that we do not require authors to assign us copyright.  I would have thought that it was much commoner to be asked to give a licence to publish, retaining the copyright.  Again, authors, if a publisher asks for the copyright, choose a journal that does not.

Avatar of: rob

rob

Posts: 1457

March 19, 2012

You make an observation that I couldn't agree with more:

1. "Senior researchers can become too comfortable to rock the boat; their juniors can feel too insecure to do it."

In reference to this point, there are definitely systems out there that enable scholars to accept manuscripts, peer review, and publish their work online. Two web applications in this space are Scholastica (http://www.scholasticahq.com) and Open Journal Systems (http://pkp.sfu.ca/?q=ojs) (Full disclosure: I'm part of the Scholastica project). There are also systems to help scholars share their research and meet collaborators: Mendley (http://www.mendeley.com/) and Research Gate (http://www.researchgate.net/).

Many people question why these platforms haven't gained wider adoption. The simple answer is that senior researchers are complacent enough to work within the current system - it's all they know. In many cases, the system has been very good to them. For junior researchers, they lack the prestige to get people to listen to them when they suggest alternatives. We're seeing today through scholars such as Tim Gowers, it is possible for senior academics to explore the idea of a paradigm shift. Not only that, they are able to get others on board (see Prof. Gowers's Cost of Knowledge campaign: http://thecostofknowledge.com/... that have resulted in tangible outcomes.

Avatar of: Ferenc Antoni

Ferenc Antoni

Posts: 1

March 19, 2012

The articela dn comments all have their merits but do not addres the fundamtental isue why indeed ahs academic publishing failed?? 

1) I think what has not been mentioned here is the impact factor game and the high profile journal syndrome.  A quick look verifies that the vast majority of these " high profile journals" are run by the commercial sector and this is precisely why they are still in vogue by "conservative" and powerful academics.  It would be futile to start arguing about what the actual scientific merit if these "high impact" publications is but they are the make or break of grants and careers in life sciences. 

2) Because publications  are now primarily considered by bureaucrats of various organisations on their "metric" value as opposed to real scientific merits  – the latter is hugely more difficult  to assess esp. in the short-term than the IF of the journal –  we are relying on a small cabal of commercial journal editors and influential scientists who have their ears to tell us what's good in science.    

And precisely this is where academic publishing is broken...   

Avatar of: Mike Taylor

Mike Taylor

Posts: 23

March 19, 2012

Keith,

Follow the the link in the article from the text "Other open-access journals average a bit less, around $906".  You will find a paper that analyses open-access author fees in some detail.  The $1350 that PLoS ONE charges is actually towards the upper end of the range.  I chose that fee as representative from a desire to play as fair as possible by the barrier-based publishers, since it's now well established that PLoS ONE's fee is sustainable for a financially healthy publisher.

Avatar of: Keith Brunt

Keith Brunt

Posts: 5

March 19, 2012

Indeed, that is a very well written and balanced article. They state the range is $8-$3900USD. The take home message from that article would be that the system is not so much broken, but evolving. 

Avatar of: Mike Taylor

Mike Taylor

Posts: 23

March 19, 2012

 Absolutely it considers that daily struggles of the PI.  That is what the whole penultimate paragraph is about.  The big problem we have at the moment is the wall between library money and department money.  What we want is a situation where, when a library saves a fortune by cutting subscriptions, some of that money makes its way to the departments to fund OA publication fees in good venues.  What I've shown is that there is plenty enough money sloshing around that system to make this happen -- if only we'd stop giving it all to paywall publishers!

Avatar of: Keith Brunt

Keith Brunt

Posts: 5

March 19, 2012

In any given scientific field you must reach your target audience. I'm not defending the cost structure, I'm suggesting that it is important to consider that there is more than the university as an audience. This was not considered yet. The PI is not concerned daily with the struggle of their library, but they are concerned daily with lab budgeting. It seems you would have the PI submit work in open-access (whether that is admiral is not the issue), but how can a PI afford extra thousands every time they publish, a good year could produce significant cost over-runs?  The grants don't cover it. Further, science is international, so how would we avoid creating limited access to some countries with limited capital? What would be the broader economic effect of losing subscription journals through punitive policy making? 

There is, as I stated a whole spectrum of cost in open-access as well and I don't think open access journals are immune to making profits. It may be that the best open-acccess could charge the most over time without the presence of competition.  If you are asking the PI to occupy their time and base their decision like open-access vs subscription, then you are adding a mental and a financial burden that currently doesn't exist. 

The penultimate question that I'm missing is, are you suggesting that those with the highest impact work, worthy of the best and most prestigious journals should forgo publishing in a subscription journal? Is your intent to seek a balance between publishing entities (for the sake of the public) or the end of subscription journals entirely?  If subscription publishing were a financial pariah, then won't, and hasn't the "scientific market" already added and provided the pressures necessary for change? The public does have a right to view scientific work they paid for with their tax money, however does this mean they should have the right to all collated global research that a journal takes the responsibility of putting together? If so under what timelines, immediate or delayed? Most subscription journals I know of provide open access eventually. Won't the ones that don't lose readership and impact and therefore won't scientific publishing self correct with time based on a willingness to be available and citable?

Avatar of: Mike Taylor

Mike Taylor

Posts: 23

March 19, 2012

Where can the money for publication fees come from?  Well, another comment in this thread seems to have shown that an OA publication fee of $1350 would amount to 0.5% of the total cost of the research that leads to it.  That doesn't sound like it should be too hard to find, but I know that in practice it's painful to find at any given moment.

Down the line I think we are going to see more and more funding agencies walling off publication fees as part of the grants they award (and this is already happening with some granting bodies).  That seems eminently reasonable to me.

In the mean time, don't forget that PLoS (and some, though not all, other OA publishers) offer fee waivers for authors without appropriate funding.  It's a stated part of the PLoS philosophy that no-one should be prevented from publishing there by financial considerations.  (This is nowhere near as widely known as I'd expect it to be -- evidently PLoS are not always good as self-publicists!)

You ask what outcome I ultimately want.  I hesitate to talk much about that, because this article was meant to a pretty hard-headed look at the economics rather than ethics of academic publishing.  In the end, though, I suspect those two aspects are aligned.  I think it's ethically right that knowledge is a commons (and so it's wrong to lock is up except in special cases like military secrets); but I also think the purely economic path leads inevitably to open access, because in the end it is governments that fund most research, and they have the muscle the break the deadlock that currently binds us to the archaic model.

Avatar of: egruenstein

egruenstein

Posts: 2

March 19, 2012

Valid points all.  
     That said, I think there may be an additional factor involved in the reluctance of academics to elect the open access option.  The established journals have a pretty clear hierarchy of prestige which, as far as I can tell, is largely lacking in the open access journals.  There is, after all, an enormous difference between a publication in Science and one in BBRC. And that difference, almost as much as the publication per se, represents the academic coin of the realm.

If this is indeed an important part of the problem, then the question becomes how to remedy it.  I don’t have any really good ideas, but one possibility might be to ask the entire editorial boards of specific journals to also serve as the editorial boards of cognate open access journals.  They would not and should not resign from their regular journal boards.  This would provide an immediate standard of
comparison among the various open access journals that could be used to gauge their prestige.
 
Would all or even most members of an editorial board agree to do something like this?  I have no idea what objections might be raised, but I think acceptance might well depend on who proposed it.  When Harold Varmus proposed the idea of readily available online access to journals, the fact that the suggestion came from him made all the difference.
  
Would the standard journals try to find ways of preventing it?  If they did, would those roadblocks be effective?  Something to think about and perhaps take into consideration in designing any structure for implementation.  In any event, if you can get Varmus or someone like him to champion your proposal, that could be a major step forward.

Eric Gruenstein, PhD
Professor of Molecular Genetics, Biochemistry & Microbiology
Professor of Neuroscience
University of Cincinnati Medical School

Avatar of: Mike Taylor

Mike Taylor

Posts: 23

March 19, 2012

"The established journals have a pretty clear hierarchy of prestige which, as far as I can tell, is largely lacking in the open access journals."  That is partly true, but not entirely.  For example, as I noted above, PLoS Biology was ranked top in its category in the most recent JCR, with IF=14ish.  But that's not really the main point I want to make, because:

"That difference, almost as much as the publication per se, represents the
academic coin of the realm."  Sadly, yes.

"If this is indeed an important part of the problem, then the question becomes how to remedy it."  Well, here we have a very fundamental difference in perspective.  To me, the use journal prestige -- and especially the very, very flawed measure that is Impact Factor -- is one of the major problems of the current system.  A paper should be judged on its own quality, not that of the other papers that are published in the same journal as it!

So if the rise of OA did have the side-effect of abolishing the "hierarchy of prestige", I would be cheering from the cheap seats.  Because the current system rewards all the wrong things.  In publishing their work, researchers should be concentrating on only two things: expressing that work as clearly and comprehensively as possible; and getting into the hands of as many interested readers as possible.  In both respects, a journal like PLoS one (no limits on length or illustrations, free to anyone in the world) is unquestionable superior to one like Science or Nature (very tight length limits, expensive subscriptions).  Science is much better served by a 40-page description of a new dinosaur [that's my academic field] with extensive high-resolution colour images than it is by a three-page extended abstract in Nature with two tiny low-resolution black-and-white figures.  Yet at present the latter is rewarded far more richly -- because of the wretched Impact Factor.

So my ideal is that researchers should be rewarded for doing good research are reporting it well; not for discarding 90% of their information and squeezing the rest into a very short report.

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egruenstein

Posts: 2

March 19, 2012

Mike,

Thanks for your response - you make good points.  There is, however, a caveat related to your comment:

"A paper should be judged on its own quality, not that of the other papers that are published in the same journal as it!"

I suspect we can agree that not all research is of equal importance.  If we were able to monitor all or most publications relevant to our respective fields, we could then make such judgements ourselves.  I can in fact remember one of my old grad school teachers telling me that he used to go through each biweekly issue of Chem Abstracts, page by page, reading all abstracts that were either relevant or seemed interesting.  Since such comprehensive monitoring is, of course, no longer possible, some sort of pre-selection must be made.  How then is that to be done?  Where to start?  Mike, how do you do it?

Many of us, I expect, start by selecting a few journals that combine prestige with relevance to our fields and we monitor these routinely.  Without the "prestige factor" the number of journals directly relevant to the overlapping interests of most scientists will be overwhelming (at least it is for me).  After that initial review of the high prestige/high relevance journals, a periodically scheduled key word/author search can help avoid missing some of the other relevant publications - but of course it only helps, there's still lots of good stuff that gets missed.

Eric

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Kamal Mahawar

Posts: 1457

March 19, 2012

This is a well written article but an attempt to solve the pricing of academic articles without looking at other relevant issues is unlikely to work. Issues of peer review, impact factor of journals, academic careers, reserch grants, copy rights etc. are all closely interlinked. We need a new collective approach to all these issues to be able to find a lasting solution to this problem and that is the only reason "open access" as we have known for the last decade or so has not been able to solve it all. We at WebmedCentral are trying to address the problem in a very fundamental way. If the purpose of publication is communication of one's research findings, that does not have to be so expensive in this day and age. If it is to be able to decide research grants and academic careers, we need to sit down and evolve a better system.

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Mike Taylor

Posts: 23

March 19, 2012

I absolutely agree that a complete solution will involve many interlinked matters, especially regarding how researchers and their publications are evaluated.  All I had space to do in this article was explain the problem, not explore solutions.  That would be a whole nother article!

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Mike Taylor

Posts: 23

March 19, 2012

[Duplicate comment, sorry. Please ignore this.]

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enature

Posts: 2

March 19, 2012

Let us do simple math. In 2013, the US government will allocate over $140 billion to research & development, while American scientists will produce nearly 500,000 citable papers. That’s $280,000 taxpayer funded expenditure per paper. But it costs mere $1,400 or less to publish in a reputable open-access journal. Hence, the publications costs are only 0.5% of taxpayer funded total R&D expenditures. The current system is clearly broken: it allocates hundreds of thousands of dollars per paper, yet does NOT automatically allocate for the vital result of all the research - publications.

I suggest a simple solution. The US government allocates 0.5% or less of its R&D budget to the Publication Fund. Any author who chooses to publish her paper as an open-access will have the publication costs automatically covered by the Publication Fund. This will annihilate the current financial barrier that authors face when they want their paper to be open-access. There will be no excuse not to make all worthy publications open-access. Authors benefit and taxpayers benefit.

PS: Please, note that open-access and high-impact can go hand-in-hand. For example, 73% of all Nature Publishing Group journals give a choice of open-access or subscription route. But many authors forgo the open-access simply because they lack funds. Mere 0.5% or less of the US R&D expenditures allocated to publishing will solve this problem. The number of open-access papers then will skyrocket. Worldwide science will benefit.

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Teresa Goodell

Posts: 1

March 19, 2012

"To publish in an Elsevier journal, on the other hand, appears to cost some $10,500."
Does the author not see the blatant logical error in comparing costs to institutions (journal subscriptions) to the costs to individuals? I do not have to subscribe to Cell personally to publish there.

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Mike Taylor

Posts: 23

March 19, 2012

Does the reader not read to the end of the article?

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alexandru

Posts: 1457

March 19, 2012

Because I scientifically
developed The Evolutive Creation based on Adam mtDNA inheritance (existed only
in xifoid process, so called one of man's ribs - Genesis 2.21) and Eve mtDNA,
as a copy, I give the Bible point of view:

Proverbs 25.2 - *We honour God for what He
conceals; we honour kings for what they explain!*

Matthew 22.21 - *Well,
then, pay the Emperor what belongs to the Emperor, and pay God what belongs to
God.*

However, attention
please!

Matthew 10.8 - *You
have received without paying, so give without being paid.*
 

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Randall Irmis

Posts: 2

March 19, 2012

One thing Mike didn't mention in his opinion piece is that academic libraries are starting to shift their financial models to fit open access.  At least here in the US, many larger university libraries have created open access publishing funds to help researchers pay open-access fees if they don't have money available from external grants.  Here are just two examples:

http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/brii/

http://www.lib.utah.edu/services/open-access-publishing-fund.php

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javier57

Posts: 1

March 19, 2012

This is of course a matter of most importance for all scientific communities, including those of us struggling in less fortunate countries where money for research is so limited. Access to high impact journals is almost nonexistent and we relay on the goo will of authors to send us copy of their manuscripts, when possible. 
When it comes to cost for publishing is even worst since we just have no institutional funds to pay for this and we have to cover this fro our pocket. With salaries for scientist in developing countries, each paper may cost us most of our monthly income. 
In our countries it is always up to the hill to get money for research and on top of that we need to save money to pay the pleasure of see our wok published.

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bjmengeling

Posts: 1

March 19, 2012

Why in these sorts of articles does no one discuss the fact that researchers out of their current grants pay page charges for publishing in subscription based journals? Each paper our lab publishes costs us a minimum of $1800 (usually more, especially if colored figures are involved) in page charges. This is why science papers used to be labeled as advertisements. Yes, our university has subscriptions to most journals, but we still pay to publish. Furthermore, we are expected to provide pdf versions of figures and manuscripts often in a format that looks very much like the published article. On top of that, the vast majority of subscription journals do not provide remuneration for the researchers doing the peer-review; we are expected to volunteer for that.

Avatar of: Mark Bisby

Mark Bisby

Posts: 4

March 19, 2012

1. I'm an ex-academic, no longer with an affiliation with any university. However, I still need access to the literature for my work as a Board member of several science-based organizations. As this article points out, over 90% of the published literature is not accessible to me, walled-off behind password-protected university library sites. As publicly-funded institutions the universities should also be ashamed of their role in preventing public access to the publicly-funded research knowledge. I know their licenses with publishers require this, but if a consortium of universities decided to make their collections accessible, the whole dysfunctional system described so well in this article would collapse....good!
2. The article doesn't describe a major reason for the preservation of the system. It's that publications in high-impact factor journals are the merit badges required for tenure, promotion and grants.
3. Many of the papers that I need to access have to do with the topic of knowledge translation: how health professionals and policy-makers on the one-hand, and scientists on the other, can find common ground and engage in constructive dialogue on the research agenda and the uptake of new research findings. The researchers in this field don't see anything ironic about publishing in journals that said professionals and policy-makers cannot read!

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Mike Taylor

Posts: 23

March 19, 2012

Mark, it sounds to me like your situation is one we would be interested in for our site Who Needs Access? You Need Access, http://whoneedsaccess.org/

If you're interested in being interviewed for that site, please contact me directly at dino@miketaylor.org.uk

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March 19, 2012

I've never had it laid out for me just like this before; illuminating!  and thank you.

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March 19, 2012

I couldn't agree more.  One should also notice that these record profits are only after fat bonuses for management and salesmen are deducted from revenues. This business is ripe for change, Elsevier knows this and is milking the cash from the customers before the market collapses to a small fraction of the current value and publishers' role is reduced to what they really are - messengers.

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March 19, 2012

Some of the finances are not as clear cut as presented. The cost to submit a paper (the direct cost to a PI and their grant) can vary substantially. Both open access and subscription journals charge submission fees, publication fees and often color page charges. Some open-access manuscripts can cost roughly $100 in submission fee (non-refundable), ~$1500 in publication costs with an additional ~$2000 in color image costs (electronic pdfs would also not be generated without color payment, for online only). The costs are born exclusively by the grant, not typically the institution. Compare that to other subscription journal costs of a $50 submission fee and $250 in color charges. Also, there are open-access pay options in many subscription journals (albeit at somewhat restrictive cost).

While it may be cheaper to the tax payer in a broader sense to utilize open access, one should consider that a PI must choose the most appropriate impact/audience for their findings. Currently, this amounts to a mixture of open-access and subscription journals. It would be a disservice to put the added pressure and responsibility sqaurely on the PI (particularly when grants run red, but data needed to generate more funding stands in cue). In any future discussion, great care must be given to the very limited and tentative monies available for maintaining labs. Adding the direct overhead cost to a PI has to be considered either in the publishing world or by the funding agencies. Also, you focused heavily on the volunteerism of investigators to produce and peer review articles (senior editors need to meet, involving international travel costs). You did not mention administrative and editorial support staff needed to operate a journal, such as a communications officer, language editor (international journals in particular), and typesetters. Also, those handling accounts, marketing and advertising are not typically scientists. Many open-access journals also produce hard-copy which bares additional costs (though hopefully offset by advertisements). The highest impact journals are able to generate more money through marketing. It would be of interest to compare revenues and cost in more detail with greater balance.

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March 19, 2012

Let Elsevier open its books. Of particular interest is the revenue ending up in the executive suite.

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March 19, 2012

 What IS your point, sir?

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March 19, 2012

The point, is that this is an opinion article that gives a very one-sided opinion, in my opinion. I think the debate is important, it just needs more information to be constructive. It doesn't consider the daily life and struggle of a PI (the people that are actually responsible for generating public research) and many others. I think the debate should be centered on cost effectiveness AND research effectiveness. This is not a debate that can be clear cut by saying it is open-access vs subscription and one is better/needed more than the other (or that one should be eliminated as some comments would suggest). There are many parties affected (funding agencies, universities, research institutes, industry, health practitioners, health insurers, the thousands of people employed by journals AND the general public). I hope that clarifies, sorry I thought the point was clear.

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March 19, 2012

 "a PI must choose the most appropriate impact/audience for their findings"

Yes - and this was addressed by Mike in his point where he brought up the journal Cell as an example.  I think's mike's point is that demand drives business models, so there would be impetus for Nature/Science/Cell to become open access if people started demanding in it or publishing elsewhere.  You are correct that there are few alternatives for top-tier journals at the moment, but open-access venues are starting to catch up with journals like PLoS Biology.

"You did not mention administrative and editorial support staff needed to
operate a journal, such as a communications officer, language editor
(international journals in particular), and typesetters."

Where do you think the open-access publishing fee goes?  Yes it pays for servers and web-development, but open access journals also pay for these staff and services.  The main thing is that electonic publishing is vastly cheaper because there are no printing costs, but Elsevier et al. have maintained their costs at print journal levels because it nets them a large profit.

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March 19, 2012

I agree with you that demand drives business models, but I failed to appreciate that concern in this article. Since you mentioned the business model evolution in publishing:
http://www.nature.com/nature/f... 

Is interference in the financial and scientific markets acceptable/necessary at this point? I don't think we are in a failed system, just an evolving one. 

In the interim, is it fair to make a case for PI's to bear the extra cost and ethical responsibility, perhaps to the detriment of their career or fiduciary duty to spend grant money effectively?

Or

Should libraries, non-profit scientific societies, and funding agencies provide further demands on publishers?

As you say open-access and subscription journals are evolving into top-tier journals, so would logically grow the number of submissions and perception among scientists.

As I mentioned in another response, if a publisher is a financial pariah, they will have a difficult future; however progress is slowly occurring and the whole system is evolving from both ends of the spectrum.

Is this article a balanced constructive opinion? or false dichotomy? 

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Posts: 0

March 19, 2012

Good article! I'm delighted to see the increasing attention this subject is receiving. I've been waiting a long time for the day when these parasitic academic journals get dumped into the proverbial "dustbin of history".

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March 19, 2012

Good article. You should push the total cost angle with legislators.

Also - I think that there is another possible issue on the horizon that should be discussed. That is, the long-term life of open journals. There is quite a plethora these days. Eventually, many of those new journals will fail. What I think this means is that over time university libraries will become the repositories for academic publishing.

I don't see why the university library systems don't make this their long-term goal, and start making arrangements already. University libraries could easily get into the academic publishing business, and do quite well at it. 

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March 19, 2012

Very good suggestions about the future role of libraries.  I know the publishers are already assuming the role of on-line libraries, on a pay-per-view basis.

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March 19, 2012

A main stumbling block is that for an author to publish in an open access journal it costs the author a fee (for example $1500 for PLoSONE), whereas to submit to a print journal, as long as length requirements are met and no color photos are needed, the cost to the AUTHOR is $0. Until this discrepancy is lessened or removed, we will not see a major exodus to open publishing. Yes, libraries are being bled dry and many people do not have access to the articles, but I would assume many authors are hesitant to drop the $1500 (or more) for open access when they can submit for free somewhere else. 

I personally try to publish as much as possible open access because my research is federally funded and I think taxpayers have the right to see the results of their monies, but asking my agency to keep shelling out $1500 a paper wears thin on them.

I've also found it amusing that even though U.S. federal employees have no copyright to sign over, these articles areas are still placed behind the paywalls.

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March 19, 2012

 (Are you the Bill Parker that I know?  Works on aetosaurs in the Petrified Forest.)

A couple of misconceptions here.  First, PLoS ONE's author fee is $1350, not £1500; but that doesn't materially affect your point.  More importantly, PLoS offer fee waivers to authors without funds.  (I know from colleagues who have taken the waiver that this is a painless process.)  Lack of publication funds should never be a reason not to publish in PLoS.

As I said, a lot of our problems come from the fact that there is a budget wall between libraries and research departments.  If we (collectively, worldwide) could cancel all our budgets an reallocate the money saved to Gold OA publication fees, there would be a huge surplus -- my figures above suggest we could save 7/8 of all that money.  The problem remains how to make that leap.

Finally, this: "I've also found it amusing that even though U.S. federal employees have
no copyright to sign over, these articles areas are still placed behind
the paywalls."  That should not amuse you.  It should make you absolutely steaming livid with rage.  And not just you, but every taxpayer who has funded your federal agency.  This is copyright theft, pure and simple.  Not copyright violation, which is what people usually mean sloppily using the term "copyright theft", but actual theft.  Taking something away from its rightful owner.

Please: kick up a stink about this.  We really mustn't tolerate it.

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March 19, 2012

Investment analyst Claudio Aspesi crunches the numbers differently: "In 2011 Elsevier had total revenues of £2058 million. S&T
journals account for about 45% of that (the company does not disclose
the exact number), so that would make it £926 million. Assuming that the
average operating margin of Elsevier (37%) applies to journals as well,
costs would be £583 million. Since they publish about 230,000
articles/year, that comes to £2,536/article, which seems much more in
line with what PLoS charges."

http://bit.ly/yO1RWn

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March 19, 2012

It is a very interesting article.  I have two more points to add.  First, it may seems like PLoS One charged most for the publication fee, but it is not the highest publication fee that I had to shell out for publishing a paper.  If you have a color figures in the paper, the charge could go sky rocketing.  The other thing is that some of the subscription-based journals do offer open access publication with even higher price (>$3000).

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March 19, 2012

 I don't know of any Open Access publisher that charges extra for colour figures -- can you cite an example?  I hate to keep coming back to the example of PLoS, but they are the main player right now, and PLoS ONE very explicitly allows any length of manuscript, and any number of full-colour illustrations, videos, etc.  I believe this is pretty standard.

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March 19, 2012

This is a well-written and well-researched article.  One additional point is that the professional societies have, to save money, largely dropped their support for publications, and have sold these to the for-profit companies.  Also, the for-profit companies routinely sell on-line versions of older papers, for which they have no copyright to begin with.  Many of the authors whose works are sold in this manner are now deceased, and their estates are not going to come after the publishers to demand their rights under law.  The bright sign is the growing emergence of independent digital journals like PLoS and the Journal of Insect Science, etc.  They represent the future.  The for-profit publishers are scrambling to collect as much money as they can from their investments, and rely, as the author says, on a certain level of conservatism from the academic community.  I have warned young professionals not to give away their services, their work, and their copyrights to these private businesses, however attractive they are, and however necessary they appear to those who are seeking tenure.  They need to realize that in the electronic world, a publication is not a one-time thing.  It lasts forever, either as an article of commerce or as a means of communication with a wide audience.  Take your pick.  There are some very attractive digital journals that have emerged recently, but when you look at their practices they are like wolves in sheep's clothing.  They will take your work for nothing if you let them, and they will restrict access to it in return.

I disagree with the concern over 'short-lived' publications as expressed in a comment here.  Continuity of a journal title has nothing to do with continuity of a paper.  Once a paper is out there, open access, and freely distributed, it can be immortal for all practical purposes.  It will also be read and used by many people.  I recently tried to get 'permission' to use one small figure from a paper written years ago by a long-dead author in a journal now owned by one of these private publishers.  I obviously couldn't communicate with the author about this, and the charges quoted to me by the publisher were prohibitive, although I doubt seriously that the publisher in this case really owns the copyright (as they do for more recent papers).  I guess I'll just let this work go down with the author.  Some 50 years from now it can be treated as a 'time capsule', perhaps then irrelevant, but also available in the public domain for anyone who wants to read it.

It's sad that it had to come to this, but the desperation of new Ph. D.'s and untenured professors trying to get published, and the pride of older Ph. D.'s with their honorary titles on 'editorial boards' has extended our long and difficult transition period from the world of non-profit one-time print publication by private academic societies to a new world of non-profit open-access digital publication by private academic societies.  In between, the for-profit money-hounds have emerged, driving the titles of the papers that they publish ever more into the world of headlines and catchy phrases.  It is also unfortunate that authors of all ages have gotten caught up in this world of headlines, requiring them to shamelessly parade the 'ultimate importance and significance' of their work in front of readers.  How difficult for new scientists, to have to stilt their language thusly.

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March 19, 2012

I edit a journal owned by a learned society published by a university press, and we have a high impact factor for our field.  The publisher's share of the profits goes to the university.  If authors publish with a commercial publisher, that is a choice they are free to make, but they do not have to, and similarly an open access choice is available for most papers.  If authors chose not to publish with a commercial publisher making a large profit, the problem would rapidly solve itself.  It is unnecessary just to grumble about it, which leaves me feeling rather impatient with this piece.  Last year I interviewed the staff of three other journals to compare how we worked.  The editorial and staff time input for three of the journals was between 4 and 9 hours per paper, with the fourth taking 14 hours.  My society is now trying to find a successor for me, and is finding that in Britain and the US, universities and research institutes are requiring the institution is compensated for their time at close to a commercial rate.  Maybe it is field specific, but I do not know a journal where the editor works for nothing, although in the past it has usually been at  less than a commercial rate.

I also think that academic publishing is broken, but not for the reason Mike Taylor gives.

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March 19, 2012

Thanks for commenting, Trevor.  (I am the author of the article.)

You are of course right that "If authors publish with a commercial publisher, that is a choice they
are free to make, but they do not have to, and similarly an open access
choice is available for most papers."  But while true that is overly simplistic.  The reality is that many (most) researchers feel strong pressure to publish in "high impact" venues, which often means (among other things) those that have been established a long time, and so have had time to build up a good reputation.  This problem is starting to ease now, with the existence of some very well-regarded open journals -- e.g. PLoS Biology was ranked top in its category in the most recent JCR -- but it's still a factor for plenty of people.  (I talk all the while with colleagues who want to go with an OA journal but feel obliged by career considerations to go elsewhere.)

Where I really disagree with you, though. is in "It is unnecessary just to grumble about it".  I think it is absolutely crucial to grumble loudly and publicly about the current broken system -- that is the only way to raise awareness of the problem, and generate the will to change it.  Without such prodding, too many academics will just keep doing what they've always done: not because they like or approve of the current system, but because the issue is simply not on their radar.

Finally, on: "Maybe it is field specific, but I do not know a journal where the editor works for nothing."  Maybe it is different in different fields, but I can tell you that I know plenty of associate editors in vertebrate palaeontology.  They fall into two categories: the majority, who are not paid at all, and a minority who receive a nominal stipend.  (Among the latter, one representative is a colleague who is paid an annual stipend of $250, i.e. $5 per week, for acting as an editor at an Elsevier journal.  He estimates that he spends 5-10 hours per week on this, so he is being paid somewhere between 50¢ and $1 per hour -- 7-14% of federal minimum wage.)

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March 19, 2012

I didn't want to get on to individual publishers, but as you illustrate in your article, Mike, Elsevier are an outstanding example of making a profit which it is hard to justify.  But on the other hand, there was a medical journal amongst the four I looked at where I gather the journal pays the university of the editor for a day a week at British clinical professor rate.  And as I say, my own society is now contemplating comparable (non-medical) rates.

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March 19, 2012

I meant to add also that we do not require authors to assign us copyright.  I would have thought that it was much commoner to be asked to give a licence to publish, retaining the copyright.  Again, authors, if a publisher asks for the copyright, choose a journal that does not.

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March 19, 2012

This is a well written article but an attempt to solve the pricing of academic articles without looking at other relevant issues is unlikely to work. Issues of peer review, impact factor of journals, academic careers, reserch grants, copy rights etc. are all closely interlinked. We need a new collective approach to all these issues to be able to find a lasting solution to this problem and that is the only reason "open access" as we have known for the last decade or so has not been able to solve it all. We at WebmedCentral are trying to address the problem in a very fundamental way. If the purpose of publication is communication of one's research findings, that does not have to be so expensive in this day and age. If it is to be able to decide research grants and academic careers, we need to sit down and evolve a better system.

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March 19, 2012

I absolutely agree that a complete solution will involve many interlinked matters, especially regarding how researchers and their publications are evaluated.  All I had space to do in this article was explain the problem, not explore solutions.  That would be a whole nother article!

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March 19, 2012

[Duplicate comment, sorry. Please ignore this.]

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March 19, 2012

Let us do simple math. In 2013, the US government will allocate over $140 billion to research & development, while American scientists will produce nearly 500,000 citable papers. That’s $280,000 taxpayer funded expenditure per paper. But it costs mere $1,400 or less to publish in a reputable open-access journal. Hence, the publications costs are only 0.5% of taxpayer funded total R&D expenditures. The current system is clearly broken: it allocates hundreds of thousands of dollars per paper, yet does NOT automatically allocate for the vital result of all the research - publications.

I suggest a simple solution. The US government allocates 0.5% or less of its R&D budget to the Publication Fund. Any author who chooses to publish her paper as an open-access will have the publication costs automatically covered by the Publication Fund. This will annihilate the current financial barrier that authors face when they want their paper to be open-access. There will be no excuse not to make all worthy publications open-access. Authors benefit and taxpayers benefit.

PS: Please, note that open-access and high-impact can go hand-in-hand. For example, 73% of all Nature Publishing Group journals give a choice of open-access or subscription route. But many authors forgo the open-access simply because they lack funds. Mere 0.5% or less of the US R&D expenditures allocated to publishing will solve this problem. The number of open-access papers then will skyrocket. Worldwide science will benefit.

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March 19, 2012

You make an observation that I couldn't agree with more:

1. "Senior researchers can become too comfortable to rock the boat; their juniors can feel too insecure to do it."

In reference to this point, there are definitely systems out there that enable scholars to accept manuscripts, peer review, and publish their work online. Two web applications in this space are Scholastica (http://www.scholasticahq.com) and Open Journal Systems (http://pkp.sfu.ca/?q=ojs) (Full disclosure: I'm part of the Scholastica project). There are also systems to help scholars share their research and meet collaborators: Mendley (http://www.mendeley.com/) and Research Gate (http://www.researchgate.net/).

Many people question why these platforms haven't gained wider adoption. The simple answer is that senior researchers are complacent enough to work within the current system - it's all they know. In many cases, the system has been very good to them. For junior researchers, they lack the prestige to get people to listen to them when they suggest alternatives. We're seeing today through scholars such as Tim Gowers, it is possible for senior academics to explore the idea of a paradigm shift. Not only that, they are able to get others on board (see Prof. Gowers's Cost of Knowledge campaign: http://thecostofknowledge.com/... that have resulted in tangible outcomes.

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March 19, 2012

The articela dn comments all have their merits but do not addres the fundamtental isue why indeed ahs academic publishing failed?? 

1) I think what has not been mentioned here is the impact factor game and the high profile journal syndrome.  A quick look verifies that the vast majority of these " high profile journals" are run by the commercial sector and this is precisely why they are still in vogue by "conservative" and powerful academics.  It would be futile to start arguing about what the actual scientific merit if these "high impact" publications is but they are the make or break of grants and careers in life sciences. 

2) Because publications  are now primarily considered by bureaucrats of various organisations on their "metric" value as opposed to real scientific merits  – the latter is hugely more difficult  to assess esp. in the short-term than the IF of the journal –  we are relying on a small cabal of commercial journal editors and influential scientists who have their ears to tell us what's good in science.    

And precisely this is where academic publishing is broken...   

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March 19, 2012

Keith,

Follow the the link in the article from the text "Other open-access journals average a bit less, around $906".  You will find a paper that analyses open-access author fees in some detail.  The $1350 that PLoS ONE charges is actually towards the upper end of the range.  I chose that fee as representative from a desire to play as fair as possible by the barrier-based publishers, since it's now well established that PLoS ONE's fee is sustainable for a financially healthy publisher.

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March 19, 2012

Indeed, that is a very well written and balanced article. They state the range is $8-$3900USD. The take home message from that article would be that the system is not so much broken, but evolving. 

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March 19, 2012

 Absolutely it considers that daily struggles of the PI.  That is what the whole penultimate paragraph is about.  The big problem we have at the moment is the wall between library money and department money.  What we want is a situation where, when a library saves a fortune by cutting subscriptions, some of that money makes its way to the departments to fund OA publication fees in good venues.  What I've shown is that there is plenty enough money sloshing around that system to make this happen -- if only we'd stop giving it all to paywall publishers!

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March 19, 2012

In any given scientific field you must reach your target audience. I'm not defending the cost structure, I'm suggesting that it is important to consider that there is more than the university as an audience. This was not considered yet. The PI is not concerned daily with the struggle of their library, but they are concerned daily with lab budgeting. It seems you would have the PI submit work in open-access (whether that is admiral is not the issue), but how can a PI afford extra thousands every time they publish, a good year could produce significant cost over-runs?  The grants don't cover it. Further, science is international, so how would we avoid creating limited access to some countries with limited capital? What would be the broader economic effect of losing subscription journals through punitive policy making? 

There is, as I stated a whole spectrum of cost in open-access as well and I don't think open access journals are immune to making profits. It may be that the best open-acccess could charge the most over time without the presence of competition.  If you are asking the PI to occupy their time and base their decision like open-access vs subscription, then you are adding a mental and a financial burden that currently doesn't exist. 

The penultimate question that I'm missing is, are you suggesting that those with the highest impact work, worthy of the best and most prestigious journals should forgo publishing in a subscription journal? Is your intent to seek a balance between publishing entities (for the sake of the public) or the end of subscription journals entirely?  If subscription publishing were a financial pariah, then won't, and hasn't the "scientific market" already added and provided the pressures necessary for change? The public does have a right to view scientific work they paid for with their tax money, however does this mean they should have the right to all collated global research that a journal takes the responsibility of putting together? If so under what timelines, immediate or delayed? Most subscription journals I know of provide open access eventually. Won't the ones that don't lose readership and impact and therefore won't scientific publishing self correct with time based on a willingness to be available and citable?

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March 19, 2012

Where can the money for publication fees come from?  Well, another comment in this thread seems to have shown that an OA publication fee of $1350 would amount to 0.5% of the total cost of the research that leads to it.  That doesn't sound like it should be too hard to find, but I know that in practice it's painful to find at any given moment.

Down the line I think we are going to see more and more funding agencies walling off publication fees as part of the grants they award (and this is already happening with some granting bodies).  That seems eminently reasonable to me.

In the mean time, don't forget that PLoS (and some, though not all, other OA publishers) offer fee waivers for authors without appropriate funding.  It's a stated part of the PLoS philosophy that no-one should be prevented from publishing there by financial considerations.  (This is nowhere near as widely known as I'd expect it to be -- evidently PLoS are not always good as self-publicists!)

You ask what outcome I ultimately want.  I hesitate to talk much about that, because this article was meant to a pretty hard-headed look at the economics rather than ethics of academic publishing.  In the end, though, I suspect those two aspects are aligned.  I think it's ethically right that knowledge is a commons (and so it's wrong to lock is up except in special cases like military secrets); but I also think the purely economic path leads inevitably to open access, because in the end it is governments that fund most research, and they have the muscle the break the deadlock that currently binds us to the archaic model.

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March 19, 2012

Valid points all.  
     That said, I think there may be an additional factor involved in the reluctance of academics to elect the open access option.  The established journals have a pretty clear hierarchy of prestige which, as far as I can tell, is largely lacking in the open access journals.  There is, after all, an enormous difference between a publication in Science and one in BBRC. And that difference, almost as much as the publication per se, represents the academic coin of the realm.

If this is indeed an important part of the problem, then the question becomes how to remedy it.  I don’t have any really good ideas, but one possibility might be to ask the entire editorial boards of specific journals to also serve as the editorial boards of cognate open access journals.  They would not and should not resign from their regular journal boards.  This would provide an immediate standard of
comparison among the various open access journals that could be used to gauge their prestige.
 
Would all or even most members of an editorial board agree to do something like this?  I have no idea what objections might be raised, but I think acceptance might well depend on who proposed it.  When Harold Varmus proposed the idea of readily available online access to journals, the fact that the suggestion came from him made all the difference.
  
Would the standard journals try to find ways of preventing it?  If they did, would those roadblocks be effective?  Something to think about and perhaps take into consideration in designing any structure for implementation.  In any event, if you can get Varmus or someone like him to champion your proposal, that could be a major step forward.

Eric Gruenstein, PhD
Professor of Molecular Genetics, Biochemistry & Microbiology
Professor of Neuroscience
University of Cincinnati Medical School

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March 19, 2012

"The established journals have a pretty clear hierarchy of prestige which, as far as I can tell, is largely lacking in the open access journals."  That is partly true, but not entirely.  For example, as I noted above, PLoS Biology was ranked top in its category in the most recent JCR, with IF=14ish.  But that's not really the main point I want to make, because:

"That difference, almost as much as the publication per se, represents the
academic coin of the realm."  Sadly, yes.

"If this is indeed an important part of the problem, then the question becomes how to remedy it."  Well, here we have a very fundamental difference in perspective.  To me, the use journal prestige -- and especially the very, very flawed measure that is Impact Factor -- is one of the major problems of the current system.  A paper should be judged on its own quality, not that of the other papers that are published in the same journal as it!

So if the rise of OA did have the side-effect of abolishing the "hierarchy of prestige", I would be cheering from the cheap seats.  Because the current system rewards all the wrong things.  In publishing their work, researchers should be concentrating on only two things: expressing that work as clearly and comprehensively as possible; and getting into the hands of as many interested readers as possible.  In both respects, a journal like PLoS one (no limits on length or illustrations, free to anyone in the world) is unquestionable superior to one like Science or Nature (very tight length limits, expensive subscriptions).  Science is much better served by a 40-page description of a new dinosaur [that's my academic field] with extensive high-resolution colour images than it is by a three-page extended abstract in Nature with two tiny low-resolution black-and-white figures.  Yet at present the latter is rewarded far more richly -- because of the wretched Impact Factor.

So my ideal is that researchers should be rewarded for doing good research are reporting it well; not for discarding 90% of their information and squeezing the rest into a very short report.

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March 19, 2012

Mike,

Thanks for your response - you make good points.  There is, however, a caveat related to your comment:

"A paper should be judged on its own quality, not that of the other papers that are published in the same journal as it!"

I suspect we can agree that not all research is of equal importance.  If we were able to monitor all or most publications relevant to our respective fields, we could then make such judgements ourselves.  I can in fact remember one of my old grad school teachers telling me that he used to go through each biweekly issue of Chem Abstracts, page by page, reading all abstracts that were either relevant or seemed interesting.  Since such comprehensive monitoring is, of course, no longer possible, some sort of pre-selection must be made.  How then is that to be done?  Where to start?  Mike, how do you do it?

Many of us, I expect, start by selecting a few journals that combine prestige with relevance to our fields and we monitor these routinely.  Without the "prestige factor" the number of journals directly relevant to the overlapping interests of most scientists will be overwhelming (at least it is for me).  After that initial review of the high prestige/high relevance journals, a periodically scheduled key word/author search can help avoid missing some of the other relevant publications - but of course it only helps, there's still lots of good stuff that gets missed.

Eric

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March 19, 2012

Why in these sorts of articles does no one discuss the fact that researchers out of their current grants pay page charges for publishing in subscription based journals? Each paper our lab publishes costs us a minimum of $1800 (usually more, especially if colored figures are involved) in page charges. This is why science papers used to be labeled as advertisements. Yes, our university has subscriptions to most journals, but we still pay to publish. Furthermore, we are expected to provide pdf versions of figures and manuscripts often in a format that looks very much like the published article. On top of that, the vast majority of subscription journals do not provide remuneration for the researchers doing the peer-review; we are expected to volunteer for that.

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March 19, 2012

1. I'm an ex-academic, no longer with an affiliation with any university. However, I still need access to the literature for my work as a Board member of several science-based organizations. As this article points out, over 90% of the published literature is not accessible to me, walled-off behind password-protected university library sites. As publicly-funded institutions the universities should also be ashamed of their role in preventing public access to the publicly-funded research knowledge. I know their licenses with publishers require this, but if a consortium of universities decided to make their collections accessible, the whole dysfunctional system described so well in this article would collapse....good!
2. The article doesn't describe a major reason for the preservation of the system. It's that publications in high-impact factor journals are the merit badges required for tenure, promotion and grants.
3. Many of the papers that I need to access have to do with the topic of knowledge translation: how health professionals and policy-makers on the one-hand, and scientists on the other, can find common ground and engage in constructive dialogue on the research agenda and the uptake of new research findings. The researchers in this field don't see anything ironic about publishing in journals that said professionals and policy-makers cannot read!

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March 19, 2012

Mark, it sounds to me like your situation is one we would be interested in for our site Who Needs Access? You Need Access, http://whoneedsaccess.org/

If you're interested in being interviewed for that site, please contact me directly at dino@miketaylor.org.uk

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March 19, 2012

"To publish in an Elsevier journal, on the other hand, appears to cost some $10,500."
Does the author not see the blatant logical error in comparing costs to institutions (journal subscriptions) to the costs to individuals? I do not have to subscribe to Cell personally to publish there.

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March 19, 2012

Does the reader not read to the end of the article?

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March 19, 2012

Because I scientifically
developed The Evolutive Creation based on Adam mtDNA inheritance (existed only
in xifoid process, so called one of man's ribs - Genesis 2.21) and Eve mtDNA,
as a copy, I give the Bible point of view:

Proverbs 25.2 - *We honour God for what He
conceals; we honour kings for what they explain!*

Matthew 22.21 - *Well,
then, pay the Emperor what belongs to the Emperor, and pay God what belongs to
God.*

However, attention
please!

Matthew 10.8 - *You
have received without paying, so give without being paid.*
 

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March 19, 2012

One thing Mike didn't mention in his opinion piece is that academic libraries are starting to shift their financial models to fit open access.  At least here in the US, many larger university libraries have created open access publishing funds to help researchers pay open-access fees if they don't have money available from external grants.  Here are just two examples:

http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/brii/

http://www.lib.utah.edu/services/open-access-publishing-fund.php

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March 19, 2012

This is of course a matter of most importance for all scientific communities, including those of us struggling in less fortunate countries where money for research is so limited. Access to high impact journals is almost nonexistent and we relay on the goo will of authors to send us copy of their manuscripts, when possible. 
When it comes to cost for publishing is even worst since we just have no institutional funds to pay for this and we have to cover this fro our pocket. With salaries for scientist in developing countries, each paper may cost us most of our monthly income. 
In our countries it is always up to the hill to get money for research and on top of that we need to save money to pay the pleasure of see our wok published.

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March 20, 2012

 javier57, see the PLoS policy on publication fees, which I quote:

"We offer a complete or partial fee waiver for authors who do not have
funds to cover publication fees. Editors and reviewers have no access to
author payment information, and hence inability to pay will not
influence the decision to publish a paper."

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March 20, 2012

A system, as blatantly lopsided as the publication world is, cannot come into being without beneficiaries from both sides. Finances are only one aspect (of control). There is 'crony publicationalism' (apologies for the lack of a better word) as much as there is 'crony capitalism', distorting the use of public money. This is an area that requires social analyses on the practices of scientists as much as the editors and journals who cannot function without obliging scientists.

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March 20, 2012

I am a PhD student. It is good to have atleast 4 papers published before my defend. I know open access journals do have fast publication time, compared to subscription-based. But I prefered to go subcription based journals because of three reasons. The first one is the prestige. Subscription-based journals have history of publication and having published articles in such journal do have a kind of "superiority" among collegues. The second one is the costs. I need to pay for publication if I have had choosed open access! The third is that open access journals are many so finding a good quality is of greatest concern.

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March 20, 2012

Kishor, I am saddened by your choice to lock up your Ph.D work where most people will never see it.  Let me address your three reasons for making this choice, and see whether you can find a happier path.

1. Prestige: there are prestigious open-access journals, not least those of PLoS, whose PLoS Biology is ranked top in its category in the most recent JCR.  For much more, search for "Librarians are sometimes asked to identify high-impact open access journals".  (I would like to give you a link, but I find that comments are held for moderation if they contain one.  The page you want is the top hit on Google.)

2. Cost: as noted in several other comments on this thread, PLoS offer fee waivers, so publication cost can be $0. Some (not all) other OA publishers also do this.  Do some research.

3. Finding good OA journals. See the list that I mentioned under Prestige, and also (for the other side of the coin), "Beall’s List of Predatory Open-Access Publishers".

Hope this helps.  If you make a small effort -- an hour or two's work -- you WILL find high-quality, trustworthy OA journals in your field that are free or cheap to publish in.

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March 20, 2012

When it gets put this way it's obvious that the Choke-Holders, who make money from controlling access, are really just a smaller version of all the world's property-holders. When the very idea of "ownership" is challenged by the Open-Source/Open-Access movement one can understand the nervousness of other Choke-Holding business owners.

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March 20, 2012

As it seems, part of the motivation to publish in high-impact-subscription journals stems from the career needs. The higher impact factor the researcher is better, right? If those institutions that evaluate us researchers (tenure committees, funding agencies, etc) would use for example the number of citations, then people might change the mindset. In theory, OA article should have higher chance to be cited than subscription article. Now it seems that it is more important to publish a paper in high-impact journal, with the paper maybe not being cited ever again, than to publish a paper that will have high impact on the field (I'd say that the measure of the significance of the paper is how much and long it is cited, than where it was published). However, I am aware, that it takes time (few years at best), until a paper and/or researcher can establish a citation '"profile", which is inherent problem of the approach I propose here. My 2 ¢.

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March 20, 2012

As it seems, part of the motivation to publish in high-impact-subscription journals stems from the career needs. The higher impact factor the researcher is better, right? If those institutions that evaluate us researchers (tenure committees, funding agencies, etc) would use for example the number of citations, then people might change the mindset. In theory, OA article should have higher chance to be cited than subscription article. Now it seems that it is more important to publish a paper in high-impact journal, with the paper maybe not being cited ever again, than to publish a paper that will have high impact on the field (I'd say that the measure of the significance of the paper is how much and long it is cited, than where it was published). However, I am aware, that it takes time (few years at best), until a paper and/or researcher can establish a citation '"profile", which is inherent problem of the approach I propose here. My 2 ¢.

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March 20, 2012

Google scholar etc.
This article puts on paper exactly what I have been thinking,  I am an editor of an academic journal and when I got this position about five years ago we had a meeting at the publishers, there one of their senior staff came past and said excitedly that journals were 'really doing well' and with the happy look of dog seeing its supper being prepared: Had I seen google scholar! It has become a tool of the publishers. When I am on my internal university web then if I am in Google scholar I automatically get access to the article. The problem is we are missing some things because our university (one which has made it (just) to be in the top hundred in the world cannot afford them.

There is also the case of publishers pushing back the supply chain  - getting conference papers controlled, no versions remaining on the internet if it can be prevented.

Electronic systems for processing papers have been introduced - so the publishing houses have an even easier time! Push the botton and everyone does the work for you for almost nothing.

As in many areas, they are operating a kind of oligopoly where they have everything to gain, they negotiate terms with google scholar for I think that they are operating as a monopoly - where is the competition - if your article is not in one of the big data bases like Science Direct then no one will access it. 

I think we need the EU to be doing some fighting in this area - like limiting roaming charges the publishers should be limited in what they charge for articles.

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March 20, 2012

Hi guys. Here's a neat proposal for what can be done instead. Which is better in ALL aspects than the current system.

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March 20, 2012

Springer publishes prominent journals in my field of tertiary education.  While its journals are behind a paywall Springer offers authors the choice of making their article open to the public at a cost of US$ 3000/EUR 2000

http://www.springer.com/open+a...

While I thought this was too much for me to pay for my current paper in press, I would contemplate paying for open access for a lower fee.  

This hybrid approach may be another way of finding a plateau between Taylor's present and future publishing peaks.

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March 20, 2012

You are absolutely right in that there are prestigious journals to publish in, and these are typically not open access. I think this is the main reason that the state of affairs is what it is. I have been talking to colleagues about this problem, but the consensus seems to be that it would be nice if everything were cheaper, but the 'prestige' of publishing in these journals make it necessary to accept the system the way it is.

I'm a computer scientist, and our publications mostly go to conferences, although we do have journals as well. Regardless, these conferences typically do not have open-access proceedings either, even though we consistently publish our work on our home-pages and have been doing so for a while. The general principle, however, is the same -- there are prestigious conferences where we want our papers published and these are not open to the public. If I am outside the university firewall I have to pay around 25$ to read a paper. Does anyone actually buy single copies of papers at all?

People seem concerned that the prestige of journals and conferences would be lost if we abandon Elsevier and friends. I don't believe this to be true. We are already doing nearly all of the work and there would still be high-end conferences with high submission numbers and low acceptance rates even if we turn everything open access. Another reason is of the more practical nature -- it is nice to get a printed proceeding at a conference. Granted, no one has claimed that it would not be possible to get the proceedings printed without giving away the copy-right, but many people still like their books and this I fully respect.

With the internet, distributors in their current form are not needed any longer. The media industry is realizing this, and so are the publishers. We can't blame them for trying to stick to their archaic business models. They're making money. This is what companies do, and they're not going to stop as long as they keep making money. We are, however, in a very good position to make changes here, and I think we should. Sooner rather than later.

Jesper Bengtson, PhD
Postdoc at the IT-University of Copenhagen
Denmark

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March 20, 2012

Excellent that your journal does not require copyright assignment.  In my experience (in vertebrate palaeontology) this is very rare: perhaps one journal in ten requests a licence to publish, and the other 90% demand copyright transfer.  But it may vary in other fields.

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dredomcgowan

Posts: 19

March 20, 2012

Trevor, in your statement "I also think that academic publishing is broken, but not for the reason Mike Taylor gives" are you thinking of politicized or heavily industry influenced papers carried in fairly august journals? I've seen this coming out of such publication systems and it really raises an issue of journal credibility, thus affecting honest researchers. So quality of the publishing house is an issue that ties back to what Mike and others are discussing. I've seen this in papers on spinal screws, discussions of sewage byproducts, air quality impacts, water reuse papers, etc---a very wide array. An AO which reaches many would see interested people flagging these issues whereas such interested people may have virtually no access to an academic journal unless having access to a well funded library. In the interim, I've seen industry using these publications to supply lobbyists who seek to change or promote legislation affecting the public in adverse ways.

Edo McGowan, PhD, Medical Geo-hydrology

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March 20, 2012

Trevor, in your statement "I also think that academic publishing is broken, but not for the reason Mike Taylor gives" are you thinking of politicized or heavily industry influenced papers carried in fairly august journals? I've seen this coming out of such publication systems and it really raises an issue of journal credibility, thus affecting honest researchers. So quality of the publishing house is an issue that ties back to what Mike and others are discussing. I've seen this in papers on spinal screws, discussions of sewage byproducts, air quality impacts, water reuse papers, etc---a very wide array. An AO which reaches many would see interested people flagging these issues whereas such interested people may have virtually no access to an academic journal unless having access to a well funded library. In the interim, I've seen industry using these publications to supply lobbyists who seek to change or promote legislation affecting the public in adverse ways.

Edo McGowan, PhD, Medical Geo-hydrology

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