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

From: ept <ept_at_BIOSTRAT.DEMON.CO.UK>
Date: Tue, 14 Jan 2003 15:43:53 +0000

Alan Story wrote:

> Jan:
> Further on the question of open access by potential authors.
> A few questions re: BioMed Central waivers ( of the $500
> charge):

EPT is watching these discussions and trying to work out the impact of
open access on developing country science.

My understanding is that both the BMC $500 charge and the PloS $1500
charge are to cover the costs both of document conversion and peer
review and I am not sure what % of these figures is for peer review. I
do not understand why peer review costs are considered to be so high,
since the reviewers give their professional skills for free and the
other costs are merely mailing and record keeping. The whole process can
now be automated, as has been done by the Canadian journal, Conservation
Ecology ( See also for other tools
for automated peer reviewing. Once such tools are set up, peer review
costs must be almost nil.

For developing country scientific organisations, replacing one
unaffordable cost (tolls) by another unaffordable cost (APC) is of
little encouragement. Even though the APC costs are substantially less,
and may be eliminated for developing country authors (if they can 'make
a reasonable case', and see the query from Alan Storey), one must hope
that these efforts are interim means of getting from 'here' to 'there'.
To ensure the international scientific community has access to ALL
research ouput, there must be a true level playing field. Only then can
the 'missing' research generated in the developing world, and critical
for international programmes (in AIDS/malaria/tuberculosis/environmental
protection/biodiversity/taxonomy/ biosafety/biopolicy....) become part of
mainstream knowledge. Only then can the isolation of the scientific
community in under-resourced countries be overcome and international
partnerships be established to the benefit of all of us. Carry out a
search for 'malaria' on the non-profit distributor of many developing
country journals, Bioline International, to see an example of the
missing research. Use and search from the homepage
across all material on the system.

My understanding has always been that the open access movement aimed to
provide free access to institutional archives - free of costs both to
the author and the reader. Any costs to be met would be borne by
institutions, which have an interest in distributing their own research
output in ways that make the greatest impact. Again, my understanding is
that costs for setting up an institutional eprint server would be:
an initial modest setting-up cost, some hand-holding costs for authors
in preparing documents for the eprints servers, followed by low
maintainenance costs. These could surely be 'absorbed' by most
organisations. Essential peer review costs would be readily paid for by
savings plus automation.

And that sounds just fine for science in the developing world.

Barbara Kirsop
Electronic Publishing Trust for Development -
Received on Tue Jan 14 2003 - 15:43:53 GMT

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