Testing a new approach to open access fees

“In Steffen’s view, new open access payment models are needed to make open access implementation practical. The journal he co-edits, EER Plus, was launched in 2019 as the OA spin-off of Europe’s oldest general-interest economics journals: European Economic Review (EER). Its quality and reputation are such that it rejects about 80 percent of papers.

As Steffen describes it, the EPC model his journal is piloting offers an affordable option for researchers with limited access to funds. The charge is set low – at €527, where some article processing charges will be upwards of €4,000  – and unlike a submission fee, the author only pays if their paper is selected for peer review. However, that fee is non-refundable if the article is rejected at the peer review stage….”

Guest Post: A Plea for Fairer Sharing of the True Costs of Publication – The Scholarly Kitchen

“Imagine a university invoicing all graduating students for both the costs of their study program and the tuition fees of their peers who dropped out along the way. While this situation would strike most as unfair, something analogous happens in the world of scholarly publishing through the charging of open access fees. In this post we will explore how restructuring APC (Article Processing Charge) pricing can lead to fairer cost allocation in scholarly communication….

Journals that have experimented with submission fees before found that submission numbers went down significantly (33.5% in the case studied here) when introducing a submission fee. A decreased number of submissions offers the benefit of decreased costs – less time and effort spent on review as well as lower usage of the often costly technologies involved. Prices charged for various fees would need to be reduced to reflect these reduced costs.

 

It is not clear whether such a decrease would happen in a situation where the submission fee is introduced by an OA journal that is currently using a traditional OA payment system with an APC charge. In that situation the introduction of the submission fee would lead to a substantial reduction in charges paid for a published article, which may attract more authors, offsetting any decrease caused by the submission fee. The lower costs can strengthen a journal’s competitive position as compared to other journals in the field. If a reduction in the number of submissions is still observed, however, the finding of Nwachukwu and colleagues that there was no change in the characteristics of submitted papers is important to take into account. If that is the case, the assumption that 1000 submissions are needed for 100 publications would remain unchanged….

In an earlier post on The Scholarly Kitchen, Tim Vines suggested to let authors choose between the new APC model (including a submission fee), or not paying a submission fee but paying a (higher) APC at acceptance of the paper. This suggested approach is not only a good solution for the transitional phase to the new APC model, but can also provide valuable insights into the effects of introducing a submission fee for an OA journal.

To us, changing the APC model now seems a much better idea than to wait until that ship has sailed while we end up in an OA world with undesirably high publication (as opposed to processing) charges. If you agree, join us in getting this message across to funders so they can publicly voice their support, and to publishers to help persuade them of the enormous benefits of transparency and fair pricing.”

Open Access Plans — S, T, U, so far | SciELO in Perspective

In a few earlier posts1,2, I have mentioned, and commented on, Plan S. In September of 2018, immediately after Plan S was presented, Tim Vines published a post on The Scholarly Kitchen3 in which he argues that Plan S, based on funding open access with Article processing Fees (APCs) should be scrapped and instead, OA should be financed by submission fees. He called his idea Plan T (I guess because T follows S in the alphabet). It is an old idea, but a valid one. I have for a long time been in favor of submission charges. After all, getting a paper reviewed and accepted in a journal is like doing an exam, to get a driver’s licence, for instance. One has to pay for such an exam, whether or not one passes or fails. Tim Vines uses the example of a dental check up in his post. You don’t just pay if the dentist finds a cavity to fill or a tooth to extract….

The same day that Tim Vines’ post was published, Richard Sever (of Cold Spring Harbor Publishers and bioRxiv) reacted by firing off a tweet which said: “Plan U: just mandate preprint deposition and let a downstream ecosystem of overlays/journals with various business models evolve in response to community needs. Side benefit: speeding up science massively…”4

Now we’re talking. This is entirely in line with what I proposed in 2015 [in a blog post]5. At first, Plan U appeared on a web site, planu.org, which was anonymous, undated, and doesn’t exist anymore. However, on June 4th, 2019, a formal article entitled “Plan U: Universal access to scientific and medical research via funder preprint mandates”6 appeared in the journal PLOS Biology. There is no reason whatsoever why this Plan U should not take off, although it may initially go slowly, given the usual inertia in the scientific community at large.

Plan U offers science communication everything it needs. Rapid sharing of research results via preprints, without the sometimes high cost of APCs; options of obtaining peer review and formal journal publication afterwards. And the latter, which can be expensive, only if and when necessary for funding or career development. It even may make the differences between open access and subscription journals fairly irrelevant for the dissemination of research results, as an open access version of every article will in any way be guaranteed via the preprint….”