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

From: Fytton Rowland <J.F.Rowland_at_LBORO.AC.UK>
Date: Wed, 15 Jan 2003 14:02:47 +0000

Whether the cost is $500 per published paper or $1500 per published paper,
there are some real costs in running a peer review and document archiving
system - computer hardware an software and administrative staff time, at the
very least. A review study that I undertook last year suggests that the true
figure is closer to the $500 than the $1500, assuming a rejection rate of 50%.
If rejection rates are very high, as in Manfredi la Manna's example, then the
cost per *published* paper is higher. However, one has to ask whether, in a
paperless sytem, rejection rates need to be so high!

Under OAI, the cost of the archiving is borne by the author's institution.
Removing journal subscription charges removes financial obstacles to access by
*readers*. Access by authors is a different matter - the costs of peer review,
however high or low, have to be borne somehow. If an author wants to publish
in a prestigious journal, and journals have gone over to the "author-pays"
system in ordr to provide free reader access, then the author needs to find a
source of funds from somewhere.

Suggesting that the author-pays system is "no better" than the old subscription-
based system is unnecessarily negative. It *is* better because (a) the overall
cost to the academic world is lower; (b) scholars in poor countries/poor
institutions can read everything; (c) scholars' work can be made available on
OAI-compliant servers. If, however, an author wants the prestige of having
their work associated with a high-quality source, then the costs of the quality-
control system have to be paid. So far as poor countries are concerned, maybe
the international scientific and scholarly associaitions are best placesd to
organise the necessary cross-subsidies?

Fytton Rowland, Loughborough University, UK.

Quoting ept <ept_at_BIOSTRAT.DEMON.CO.UK>:

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

> 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 Wed Jan 15 2003 - 14:02:47 GMT

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