Eliminating author fees could help open-access journals make research accessible to everyone

Open Access (OA) journals are peer-reviewed scholarly journals that anyone can read for free without paying a subscription fee. To make up for lost subscription revenue, many journals have turned to author fees from researchers who want to publish in them. These costs can run into the thousands of dollars per article and are paid for by publicly funded research grants.

That costs Canadians millions of dollars a year and pockets major publishers with profit margins that rival Pfizer’s. However, thousands of OA journals do not charge author fees, proving that publishing in an open access journal doesn’t have to be so expensive.

I work as an academic librarian at McGill University as an on-campus expert on open access publishing. According to research conducted by a colleague and I, Canada has nearly 300 free and open access journals. This is important because author fees are a barrier for many researchers to make their work available to anyone interested.

cost of publication

The typical costs of publishing a scholarly journal include the salaries of copy editors, typesetters, and translators, as well as the cost of technical infrastructure such as web hosting and submission systems. There are also costs associated with running a non-OA journal, such as managing paywalls, subscription payment systems, and sales staff salaries.

It takes money to publish journals, but this is only 10% to 15% of what publishers charge authors to make their work open access. Author fees are disproportionate to publication costs and are tied to the journal’s prestige, influence and profit model.

In this environment, author fees will continue to increase as long as someone can pay. It also means open access publishing privileges a specific group of researchers.

case study

McGill University Libraries support a free OA scientific journal called earthquakePublishes peer-reviewed research in seismology and earthquake science. earthquake represents an alternative to author fee hikes, such as natureControversial open access author fees above $10,000.

A community of nearly 50 researchers and international scientists earthquakeeditorial team.McGill Library Covers Technology Fees earthquakeincluding DOI registration, preservation, web hosting and submission platform management.

Volunteers provided by volunteers earthquake The team runs the journal: soliciting reviewers, reviewing submissions, and publishing accepted manuscripts. The journal is also responsible for developing its own author guidelines, updating its website and promoting itself. earthquake Provide authors with pre-formatted templates to reduce time spent on layout and production.

The McGill Library is one of many Canadian libraries that supports journals in this way. Of the nearly 300 free OA Canadian journals we researched, 90% are supported in some way by academic libraries.

community value

Journals are more than just publishing papers. To be successful, they must be recognized and valued by society.exist earthquake, put a lot of energy and resources into the construction of grassroots communities. In a “publish or perish” culture, launching a new journal is not enough – it must be valued and responsive to the needs of its community in order to attract contributions.

Editors and peer reviewers dedicate their time to journals as part of their professional service. Some researchers and editors are unhappy with volunteer work that provides millions of dollars in profits to publishing companies.Scholar-led free journals offer an attractive option; this is certainly a motivating factor for editorial teams earthquake.

earthquake It is unique as a free OA scientific journal. Our research found that Canadian STEM journals are nearly 40% less likely to be open access than journals in other disciplines. This is also true on a global scale. One study found that humanities and social science journals accounted for 60% of free OA journals, while science and medicine accounted for 22% and 17%, respectively.

Additionally, scientific and medical journals account for the majority of fee-based, OA journals. This may be because these journals were early adopters of the author fee model. Researchers who publish in it can also receive larger grants to cover these costs.

Publishing Models of the Future

With author fees charged by large publishers soaring, libraries, universities and funding agencies should encourage alternative publishing models. Free OA journals can meet this need, but may be unstable and require support.

For example, Canada has a grant to support journals in the social sciences and humanities, but there is no such grant at the federal level for scientific and medical journals. Canada is also leading the way in introducing collaborative funding models for open access journals.

The emphasis here has also been on the arts, humanities and social sciences. Canadian libraries, universities, funding agencies and not-for-profit publishers should continue to work together to ensure sustainable, affordable publishing systems for all disciplines.

Author fees limit open access affordable to researchers, especially those without funding. Supporting free OA journals is one way forward.

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