31 January 2013

Waiving publication fees

In the last month, I’ve had at least three conversations with researchers on Twitter about why they haven’t published in Open Access journals. The obstacle in each case was, “I can’t pay the fees.”

When I asked them if they knew that at least some open access journals (notably PLOS ONE) would consider waiving the fee. I pointed them to this article as evidence. I now have another concrete example, courtesy of Proteins and Wave Functions.

“You can do that?” was sort of the reaction from a couple of people, who were either unaware that there was such a thing, or that it applied to them. This is understandable, given that waivers in many academic societies are given for people in, say, “developing nations.” (One person asked, but the journal in question didn’t have a fee waiver that policy.)

“People don’t have enough information!” is overused in explaining other people’s behaviour, but maybe that explanation has some traction in this case. Open Access journals and supporters need to do a much better job of communicating fee waiver policies. People who want to publish Open Access believe that they are excluded, when they may not be.

Speaking of costs, there is new article in Nature that covers the cost effectiveness of Open Access journals online resource. It’s accompanied by this graph:

The article says there isn’t much influence between the author fees and the “influence” of the journal, but I wonder how much of that lack of correlation might be due to the large number of journals with little or no cost on the left hand side. The correlation from $100 to $2,000 looks... surprisingly good.

What I also find interesting about this graph is that you can see a few pricing “sweet spots” in the graph: $0, $800, $1,500, and about $1,800. I wonder what causing those particular prices to act as “attractors.” Around the $1,800 mark, it appears that many of those journals are from the same publisher, BioMed Central? The other prices, though, are harder to suss out. Are publishers are pricing their fees to be comparable to each other? Or maybe all those prices converge because that’s about the price of publishing a paper for those journals? Don’t know.

External links

What does it cost to publish a Gold Open Access article?

The science 1%ers pumping Open Access are dangerously out of touch

1 comment:

Mike Taylor said...

"I asked them if they knew that at least some open access journals (notably PLOS ONE) would consider waiving the fee."

It's better than that: PLOS will waive the fee. As far as I know, they have never refused a waiver to someone without funds; and it's certainly explicitly part of PLOS's philosophy that no-one should be prevented from publishing there by lack of funds.