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

From: Stevan Harnad <amsciforum_at_GMAIL.COM>
Date: Mon, 6 Jul 2009 23:28:08 -0400

On Mon, Jul 6, 2009 at 9:44 PM, Anthony Watkinson
<> wrote:
> I am puzzled by this statement in Professor Harnad's reply below.
> I quote:
> SH: "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..."
> Yet this is the same Professor Harnad who suggests that
> institutional repositories are intended to make available
> refereed content for those who cannot afford access and not to
> damage journals.

Yes, one and the same: And your point is...?

One statement is about what universally mandated Green OA will
definitely do (make refereed research accessible to all users, not
just those whose institutions can afford subscription access), and
that is the one and only thing OA is intended to do.

The second statement is about what universally mandated Green OA might
or might not eventually do (make subscriptions unsustainable, thereby
inducing universal downsizing by journals to peer review alone, and
conversion to Gold OA). No one knows whether or not that will be the
eventual aftereffect of universal Green OA (so, unlike universal
access to all users, it can hardly be the intention of the OA

That said, there are certainly plenty of people in the OA movement who
have Gold Fever, and who would hence applaud that outcome. But most of
them haven't the patience to wait and see; they are pushing for
pre-emptive Gold right now, without even waiting or working for
universal Green OA mandates. (I would say these advocates are not so
much interested in research access as in publishing reform. I am not
one of them.)

> There are also others and maybe among his disciples who claim
> that there is no evidence that self-archiving will harm journal
> subscriptions because there is no evidence that this has
> happened.

This claim is perfectly correct. It is not a claim that it never can
or never will happen; just that it has not happened, even in fields
where Green OA has long reached 100%, and may never happen, or not for
a long time.

(I say: who cares? OA is about access, not economics.)

> There are also those who suggest to university
> authorities that mandates are mainly to project the profile of
> the university concerned.

Yes, that is one of OA's many benefits for universities.

> What is the real aim of some parts of the IR movement? What is
> Professor Harnad's main aim? Is it not to impose a universal Open
> Access regime by stealth?

I can hardly be called stealthy! I am for imposing universal Open
Access by universal Green OA mandates from institutions and funders.
(If that is still a secret to anyone then I have been singularly
unsuccessful in making my aim known despite endless skywriting...)

> I think most publishers know what it is but does the academy?
> Perhaps they should be told. Or am I guilty of what former
> Professor Suber would call a misunderstanding my suggesting more
> transparency here?

But Anthony, how much more transparent can one be?


> Anthony
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Stevan Harnad" <>
> To: <>
> Sent: Monday, July 06, 2009 1:18 AM
> Subject: Re: Submission Fees (was: RE: "Overlay Journals" Over Again...)
> >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 fees.
> >
> > 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 accepted.
> >
> > 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 business
> >> 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 range
> >> 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 this
> >> 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 journals
> >> would not implement them.  It seems wholly unfair to charge only
> >> the papers that make it "successfully" through the review process
> >> to acceptance, while the majority of papers that are being
> >> 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 accept
> >> papers or increases the potential for abuse as some may have
> >> claimed.  In a certain way, fees charged on acceptance only would
> >> create a greater incentive for abuse and "acceptance" decisions
> >> for less worthy papers.
> >>
> >> Finally, charging submission fees may make authors think twice
> >> before submitting a paper that may not be ready for prime time.
> >> As a publisher, I often see authors submit articles too early
> >> 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 that
> >> submission fees is a rationing mechanism -- you are less likely
> >> to submit a paper if there is a fee unless you feel it is ready
> >> for the review process.
> >>
> >> Thanks,
> >>
> >> Zac Rolnik
> >> now publishers
Received on Tue Jul 07 2009 - 04:28:59 BST

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