Re: Problems with Author-side payment

From: Arthur Sale <>
Date: Wed, 14 Nov 2007 14:04:19 +1100



I think you have totally lost the plot. Those of us who write
frequently about open access are entitled to feel offended by your
statement that we "ignore the current financial plight of research in
most of the world today". We are well aware of it - myself
particularly living in a region surrounded by small countries with
even more minute research budgets than many countries in Latin


The focus of the open access movement is to provide open access to
research articles through so-called "Green OA". In other words - free
to the author, free to the author's institution apart from a small
repository cost, and free to world-wide readers. The setup costs for
small repositories is probably well within the reach of even very
small universities (say $US5,000 to $10,000) or they can form
consortia to share these costs such as the University of the South


The idea that Open Access Journals will provide open access in
reasonable time is an illusion. There is no sign of this happening.
However, even accepting that, many - perhaps the majority of this
small group of journals - do not levy author-side fees and are
otherwise funded.


Note that I do not use the term author-fees nor author-payment.
Authors almost never pay these charges, whether they are levied by
open access journals or as page charges by subscription journals. We
should talk about author-side fees as opposed to reader-side fees.
When we reach the stage of having a majority of journals which have
changed their business models from reader-side fees to author-side
fee, then the debate in university libraries will be on in earnest
regarding the transfer of funds from one type of payment to the
other. Until then, there is no need to worry, and especially (a) the
transition will be driven by economic issues outside academic control
and (b) since after the transition overall publication costs are
likely to decline.


Arthur Sale

Professor of Computer Science

University of Tasmania



From: American Scientist Open Access Forum
On Behalf Of Michael Smith
Sent: Wednesday, 14 November 2007 1:52 AM
Author-side payment


The practice of author payment for open access journals may work for
the hard sciences, but it presents major difficulties for various
categories of scholars, including:


(1) social sciences and humanities, where grants are smaller and
fewer than in the natural and physical sciences.

(2) graduate students and younger scholars.

(3) scholars in the third world. I work closely with authors in
Mexico, and in my field (Mexican archaeology) an author-pay model is
simply unworkable.
Archaeologists and other scholars in Latin America barely have enough
funds to carry out their research, and funding for journal author
charges does not exist (except possibly in a very small number of
venues). This is the situation in most of the third world today in
many disciplines.


The author-pay model puts people in the above categories (and others)
at a serious disadvantage. It would effectively leave out an entire
sector of scholarship in the third world. Panglossian arguments about
convincing funding agencies to pay for author charges, or
transferring university library budgets from subscriptions to author
charges, ignore the current financial plight of research in most of
the world today.


Mike Smith


Dr. Michael E. Smith

Professor of Anthropology

School of Human Evolution & Social Change

Arizona State University

Received on Wed Nov 14 2007 - 04:31:52 GMT

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