Re: Submission Fees (was: RE: "Overlay Journals" Over Again...)

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Sat, 4 Jul 2009 06:21:43 -0400

A subscription journal charging submission fees (or acceptance fees
or both) seems like a bit of double- (or triple-) dipping , unless it
is honestly faithfully and fully translated into lower subscription
It is very likely that if and when universal Green Open Access (as a
result of universal mandates to self-archive the author's final
refereed drafts of all peer-reviewed journal articles immediately
upon acceptance for publication) causes subscriptions to become
unsustainable -- and hence causes journals to cut expenses, phase out
the print edition as well as access-provision and archiving, provide
only the service of peer review, and convert to the
publication-fee-based Gold OA model, paid for out of a portion of the
institutional windfall savings from the subscription cancellation --
then the Gold OA fee will be a conditional one, with an initial,
lower, submission fee, credited toward part of the acceptance fee, if

But this is all premature and unnecessary now, when most journals are
still subscription-based, institutional funds to pay Gold fees are
still tied up in subscriptions, Green OA is far from universal, and
hence journals have not yet phased out  the print edition,
access-provision and archiving. For all this to happen, universal
Green OA is needed first. Otherwise we are doing voodoo calculations.

All this will be familiar to readers of the AmSci Forum, where it has
been discussed many times before, in years past:

Stevan Harnad

On 3-Jul-09, at 11:38 PM, Zac Rolnik wrote:

      The use of submission fees for journals in the area of
      and economics journal publishing is not unusual.  As a
      matter of
      fact, I cannot think of any top ranked finance journals
      that do
      not charge a submission fee.  Some of these fees can
      between $250-500 and often they are charged for
      resubmission if
      the article is given a "revise and resubmit" decision.
       And the
      more prestigious the journal, the more price inelastic
      submission fee becomes.

      I am not sure if you could create a sustainable business
      model on
      submission fees, but I never understood why open access
      would not implement them.  It seems wholly unfair to
      charge only
      the papers that make it "successfully" through the review
      to acceptance, while the majority of papers that are
      rejected (I am assuming this, but it may be a big
      assumption) get
      a free ride through the process.  Maybe the submission
      fee could
      be applied to the acceptance fee once the article is
      accepted --
      this would be even fairer to the accepted authors.

      I do not think submission fees encourage journals to
      papers or increases the potential for abuse as some may
      claimed.  In a certain way, fees charged on acceptance
      only would
      create a greater incentive for abuse and "acceptance"
      for less worthy papers.

      Finally, charging submission fees may make authors think
      before submitting a paper that may not be ready for prime
      As a publisher, I often see authors submit articles too
      knowing that the chance of acceptance on the first
      submission is
      low and hoping the reviewer can provide some constructive
      feedback.  In talking to some journal editors, they feel
      submission fees is a rationing mechanism -- you are less
      to submit a paper if there is a fee unless you feel it is
      for the review process.


      Zac Rolnik
      now publishers

      -----Original Message-----
      [] On Behalf Of
      Ivy Anderson
      Sent: Thursday, July 02, 2009 11:08 PM
      Subject: Submission Fees (was: RE: "Overlay Journals"
      Over Again...)

      The idea of submission fees is one that we at the
      Digital Library have also repeatedly attempted to advance
      recent years. Publishers frequently cite the steep rise
      submissions as a factor affecting their cost structure.
       It makes
      no sense that this activity is entirely subsidized by
      players in the publication chain.  Some recent modeling
      that we
      have done at CDL - admittedly based on rough and
      figures from a variety of sources - suggests that even
      modest submission fees, if implemented by publishes
      across the
      board, would come close to completely covering the
      systemic cost
      increases associated with the steady increase in
      output overall (another factor to which annual price
      rises for
      journals are frequently attributed by some analysts).  If
      has studied this - i.e. the potential contribution that
      submission fees would make to the cost of the scholarly
      publishing system as a whole - with any rigor, I would be
      interested to see those data.

      It's easy to understand how the current incentive system
      against this: what publisher will voluntarily
      disadvantage itself
      in attracting submissions by imposing such fees if its
      competitors do not? Nonetheless, as library budgets
      continue to
      contract, the survival of scholarly publishing may just
      depend on
      finding ways to distribute costs across a wider base.
      fees - even if modest ones - should be on the table.

      Ivy Anderson
      Director of Collections
      California Digital Library
      University of California, Office of the President

      -----Original Message-----
      [] On Behalf Of
      Jan Velterop
      Sent: Wednesday, July 01, 2009 9:54 PM
      Subject: Re: "Overlay Journals" Over Again...

      The situation is this:

      1) researchers HAVE to publish and HAVE to have their
      publications  peer-reviewed;
      2) existing systems (OA-author-paid as well
      subscriptions) ONLY
      pay  for PUBLISHED articles.

      So the real problem is this: in neither case is the
      of  peer review per se paid for. Those who argue that it
      place the  entire burden of cost exclusively on the

      What is needed is a system such as, say, your diving
      test. You
      pay  for the test, whether you pass or not. Translated to
      publications, a  fee at submission is what we need, for
      peer-review is  organized. And this fee should be
      whether the article  is accepted for publication or not.

      Where is the courageous and/or visionary 'publisher'
      (just using
      a  familiar term that should probably be changed into
      organization' or pithier equivalent) who starts a system

      Jan Velterop
Received on Sat Jul 04 2009 - 11:25:42 BST

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