New channel of support for open-access publishing

From: Peter Suber <peters_at_EARLHAM.EDU>
Date: Wed, 14 Jan 2004 09:51:02 -0500

For immediate release
January 14, 2004

For more information, contact:
Helen Doyle, Public Library of Science, +1 415.624.1217, or

Public Library of Science Announces Launch of Institutional Memberships

January 14, 2004 San Francisco, CA. The movement for free online access to
scientific and medical literature was bolstered earlier this month when the
Public Library of Science [PLoS], a non-profit advocacy organization and
open-access publisher, began offering Institutional Memberships. The
announcement followed the October launch of PLoS Biology, the
organization's flagship scientific journal, which is available on the
Internet at no charge.

Open-access publishers such as PLoS rely on revenue streams other than
subscription and site-license fees to recover their costs. In lieu of
asking readers to pay for access to PLoS Biology, PLoS requests a $1500
charge for publication in the journal, which is often paid from an author's
research grant -- but which can now be largely offset by funds from other
sources within the author's institution.

"Institutional memberships," says Dr. Helen Doyle, PLoS Director of
Development and Strategic Alliances, "are one way to provide an incentive
for scientists in less well-funded disciplines, as well as those in
developing countries, to publish in open-access journals." The memberships,
which are available to universities, libraries, funders of research, and
other organizations, offer sizable discounts on publication fees for
affiliated authors--meaning that a scholarly institution, private
foundation, or corporation could substantially reduce any financial barrier
to publishing in PLoS Biology that its researchers faced.

Skeptics of the long-term viability of open-access publishing have argued
that publication charges may be more palatable for scientists in the
relatively well-funded disciplines of biomedical research than for those in
fields like ecology, where grants tend to be substantially smaller.

"We already waive all fees for any authors who say they can't afford them,"
Doyle adds, "but we hope that Institutional Memberships will help assuage
the concern that open access journals are unsustainable in fields with less
funding." In biomedicine, publication charges are estimated to account for
approximately one to two percent of the cost of research.

Another open-access publisher, the United Kingdom-based BioMed Central,
already offers an Institutional Membership program, and to date has an
active roster of more than 300 institutions in 32 countries.

Received on Wed Jan 14 2004 - 14:51:02 GMT

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