Re: Nature's vs. Science's Embargo Policy

From: Michael Eisen <mbeisen_at_LBL.GOV>
Date: Fri, 10 Jan 2003 10:41:02 -0800

Why do you think the real cost is closer to $500?

We spent a considerable amount of time and research trying to project
exactly what it was going to cost to run our journals, and, for the near
term, the number is very close to $1,500 per published article. I should
note that this is very much in line (and generally lower) than the numbers
one gets directly from established publishers or by extrapolating from their
financial statements.

PLoS is committed to having our charges directly reflect our actual costs.
It is, of course, impossible to project what these will really be until we
actually start publishing. We are confident that these numbers will go down
over time, as technology reduces the amount of time spent in manageing peer
review and processing the manuscript. It will, however, go to zero so long
as professional editors are involved in the process. In the long term, the
costs (and our charges) will scale with the amount of professional editorial
input that goes into each journal and article.
For some publications, costs of close to $1,000 will likely remain. For
others publications, where no professional editors are used and where all of
the labor comes from community volunteers, the costs will be near $0.

I am very confused by the reluctance of many on this list to embrace the
idea that academic institutions and funding agencies should view the costs
of publication as fundamental costs of doing research and pay them upfront,
enabling the product to be made freely available from the moment of
publication to the entire world. It is pointless to try to frame this as a
broad philosphical/moral argument about whether producers or readers should
pay the costs. The fact is that the upfront payment model is practically
superior to the current subscription model in virtually every way. It is
more economically efficient, and thereby will be considerably cheaper on the
whole. It is far more equitable, as there are no restrictions on who can
access or use the material. And it will make the published material far more
valuable by enabling the development and deployment of better tools to
access and use published material. So long as all open access, pay up front
publishers ensure that authors without access to funds are still able to
publish their works (which, I note, all such publishers including BMC and
PLoS do), then I simply can not understand the objections being raised here.

----- Original Message -----
From: "David Goodman" <dgoodman_at_PHOENIX.PRINCETON.EDU>
Sent: Friday, January 10, 2003 10:00 AM
Subject: Re: Nature's vs. Science's Embargo Policy

> Not that I defend that $500 charge--I don't-- but compare it with the
> $1500 asked for by Varmus' project.
> For one thing, probably $500 is nearer the real cost than $1500; for
> another, reducing the cost to $500 might possibly offer some savings to
> institutions as a whole and $1500 certainly would not.
> I personally will be glad to see good partial
> measures in the interim. This is especially true since BMC is directed to
> a subject area which has so far unfortunately shown little enthusiasmfor
> more extensive proposals.
> On Fri, 10 Jan 2003, Alan Story wrote:
> > Yes, but speaking of "nothing new at all": how can BioMed claim to be
> > "gold standard" and say it believes in "open access" when there is a
> > fee of US$500 ( a.k.a. the article-processing charge) for admission to
> > "open access" club in the first place. BioMed's user-pay toll-gate has
> > been moved further up the information superhighway.
> >
> > Alan Story
> > Kent Law School
> > Canterbury UK
> David Goodman
> Princeton University
> and Palmer School of Library and Information
> Science, LIU
Received on Fri Jan 10 2003 - 18:41:02 GMT

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