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Education Science

Journal Offers Flat Fee For 'All You Can Publish' 53

Posted by Soulskill
from the information-wants-to-be-free-ish dept.
ananyo writes "In what publishing experts say is a radical experiment, a new open-access venture is asking its authors for only a one-off fee to secure a lifetime membership that will allow them to publish free, peer-reviewed research papers. The venture, called PeerJ, formally announced its launch on 12 June. The model represents a big departure for science publishing, which has traditionally been dominated by two basic business models: either subscribers pay for access, or authors pay for each publication — often thousands of dollars — with access being free."
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Journal Offers Flat Fee For 'All You Can Publish'

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  • Just saying, oh and trust me, peers have reviewed what I wrote....

  • by American AC in Paris (230456) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @11:23PM (#40304741) Homepage

    Sure, it sounds like a good deal, but you always end up gorging yourself on abstracts and citations right off the bat. By the time you're ready for methods or supplementary figures, you can barely lift your fingers off the keyboard.

  • Chicken/Egg (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Missing.Matter (1845576) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @11:27PM (#40304761)
    I still haven't seen a good solution to the catch 22 that a journal cannot gain a reputation without first being reputable. No one with any concern about their academic career will publish in a no-name, no-eyes journal. As it is, it's hard enough to get people to read and care about your work by publishing in top tier journals. How do you expect academics to justify to themselves that the work they've spent months to years on doesn't deserve a better venue for dissemination?
    • by ceoyoyo (59147)

      PLOS 1 has done pretty well.

      • Re:Chicken/Egg (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @02:07AM (#40305733)

        Sort of?

        Maybe in some fields, but I have to say personally the quality is pretty crappy in my field.

        I think there's a certain hype factor with PLoS One that will wear off over time. I think it is linked to heavily, but I can't say that I find the articles in it very compelling. The regular PLoS journals are better, but still aren't of the same quality as the traditional journals in their fields.

        I really want open access to succeed, but the pay-to-publish model creates some ridiculous incentive structures--you're basically giving the journal an incentive to publish your work because you give them money (believe me, the nonprofit status doesn't matter). The PLoS One model, also, I think has been a failure so far, publishing papers that appeal a lot to a certain segment but wouldn't meet the standards of most established journals in their fields.

        PLoS One, maybe more so than any other journal, has probably revealed to me that publicity doesn't equal quality in scientific writing. It reminds me a lot of the Slashdot commenting system in this regard (yes, I'm aware of the irony): the system does filter out the worst of the worst contributions, but the level of discussion for the most part never reaches a certain level of sophistication either. For a news site, that's maybe not totally bad. For a scientific communication site, though, it's awful. It creates this sort of "faux quality" where all you have to do is appeal to the largest common denominator, more so than in other journals.

        I don't find the model of this PeerJ journal half-bad, though I think I could see it be applied more appropriately to professional society journals. E.g., join our professional organization and we'll review your papers for free and provide open access.

        I don't know about this push to open the review process, though. I have colleagues who advocate for this like it's some noble quality--to sign their reviews openly--but I think there's a need for some attempt at anonymity. The whole thing is more honest. Do people really think that reviewers will be as stringent in their reviews if their reviews are public?

        Actually, this is one area where some good old economics might apply. Too many journals? The publishers charge less, or the libraries just stop carrying them, and then people stop sending papers to them. Want people to read your work for free, but can't find a journal? Put it on your website.

        Honestly, this is all making me sick to my stomach--it's like people are losing their minds about academic writing. "Will you publish my paper? I'll give you 1000 dollars!" "Yes, I'm being totally honest in my reviews when everyone can read them and know who I am!"

        As if academics weren't fd up enough...

        • by Niedi (1335165)

          "Will you publish my paper? I'll give you 1000 dollars!"

          It doesn't make a difference, anyone who wants his/her paper published will give the 1000 dollars (because they have to). And either way, I don't think science and nature will run out of people wanting to publish there...
          But I fully agree that open reviews is a bad idea. In a field where almost all players know each other it would really hamper objectivity if you knew the person whose (bad) work you just shredded might come back to bite you.

    • I see a lot of applied physics journals gaining recognition slowly. Though it's now been about 23-24 years since Advanced Materials came out, it's consistently one of the best journals I read. It's actually fun to read the articles because the authors pay attention to detail and at the same time understand how to explain the point of their experiments within the context of the what other researchers are studying. That may sound a bit generic, but take a look at their figures and their articles if you have a
    • I still haven't seen a good solution to the catch 22 that a journal cannot gain a reputation without first being reputable. No one with any concern about their academic career will publish in a no-name, no-eyes journal.

      Indeed. A couple of years back, I got the chance to have dinner with my brother-in-law (an economics professor) and some of his grad students... I took the opportunity to ask them about publishing in an non standard journal (PLoS was just getting started then), and the response was a univer

    • Re:Chicken/Egg (Score:4, Insightful)

      by DrEasy (559739) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @01:19AM (#40305487) Journal

      What we need is for reputable researchers from reputable institutions to launch free open access journals, and have them managed and archived by their libraries, using digital library tools. In Artificial Intelligence, there's already the Journal of Artificial Intelligence Research (JAIR) that has been free and available on-line since the beginning, and it has a good reputation.

      The digital repository tools are mature now, we just need MIT, Stanford and others to decide to circumvent Elsevier and co and do it themselves. Then federate all the digital libraries across universities, and now you have additional redundancy and ease of access. It might even be cheaper for universities to run their own digital repositories instead of paying Elsevier and co outrageous fees. Or at least it gives them some leverage for fee negotiation.

      Udacity and Coursera were launched by Stanford profs; not sure no-namers would have had the same success.

    • Re:Chicken/Egg (Score:4, Interesting)

      by TheRaven64 (641858) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @04:47AM (#40306405) Journal
      There's a very easy shortcut to recognition for a journal: make sure everyone in the field has heard of everyone on the editorial committee. It's not that hard to round up half a dozen prominent researchers in a field to be in charge of a journal. You give them the authority to reject any papers that are submitted and then everyone reading the journal knows that the papers are things that those guys thought were interesting and novel, which means that they are probably of a high standard. You can get other people to do the first and second round reviews, so their actual workload is very low. You don't need to publish a printed version initially, which means you have no size constraints. If you only have three good submissions, only publish three papers in the first edition, then let everyone know that the acceptance rate was low. If you want more content, then you can invite articles and editorials that are not peer reviewed, as long as there is a clear distinction between those that are and those that aren't. I've only seen this done once, but it worked very well in that instance.
    • by Hatta (162192)

      This is why the open access mandate is so important. If you're funded with NIH money, you work will be accessible to the public. Publish in whatever prestigious journal you like, anyone can get a copy from the NIH. After a while, people will just go to the NIH and forget about the original journal entirely.

    • by mcmonkey (96054)

      Wouldn't it make sense for the reviewers to also submit their own work to the journal? And wouldn't that bring eyes?

      Of course, if the "peer review" isn't done by folks with a reputation who are actively publishing their own work, then what good is their review?

    • If the organizations or names behind an upstart journal are highly reputable, then the new journal is much more likely to be taken seriously.

  • How about ... free? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    The Journal of Computer Graphics Techniques [jcgt.org] is free to read, free to publish in, has all-open source code, and is backed by some of the top names in computer graphics from places like Pixar, NVIDIA, and Harvard University. That sounds like a lot better model to me than having authors pay money.

  • I think this scheme only works as long as you keep on getting a stream of new people submitting the fees. Otherwise, there's a decent chance that the journal will fold, well before its submitters have written the last paper of their lifetimes.

    • by slew (2918)

      Unfortunatly, this sounds like an illegal ponzi scheme (unlike social security which might be considered a "legal" varient).

  • The reality is that there are more people who want to be published than there are articles worth reading. Idealistically I would like to see a free to publish and free to access environment, but in an over-saturated market pay to publish can honestly improve the quality of submissions.
  • by EzInKy (115248) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @12:58AM (#40305367)

    Certainly some researchers works are worth more than others, so is this a set fee the publisher is paying or does it vary?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The publisher doesn't pay, he is paid to publish the work for free (to readers).

      • by EzInKy (115248)

        Wait, what!? And this scheme is actually interpreted as promoting the arts and sciences? Have the RIAA and MPAA gotten wind of this?

  • by HaeMaker (221642) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @01:01AM (#40305389) Homepage

    If they don't get a constant source of new authors, they can not sustain the model...

    • I went to their website and read their description of how things work, but they didn't answer the most important question: where is the money coming from to pay their hosting and bandwidth charges? Even if they get a large number of people signing up right away (and that's not very likely) they don't seem to have any form of long-term income. Unless one of the founders has very deep pockets and is willing to pay the bills as a public service, they're going to run out of money, probably within the year.
  • If these scientists were smarter, they'd realize "lifetime memberships" are a scam business model. Where does the money to run the business a few years or a decade down the road come from?

    I assure you they are not saving and investing it. Their business model spends it immediately as a joyous flood of income, and then relies on continuing to get more buy-in over the years, which, of course, cannot happen indefinitely.

    In the early 1980s, the number of "lifetime membership" fitness clubs exploded, and a few

  • Normally any-kind of author gets paid to write, not the other way around. I though scientific papers just published in journals (magazines basically) and the readers paid to read them.

    Is this for authors who no one wants to read? Or authors who want to go it alone and try and sell individual papers themself's?

    • by ceoyoyo (59147)

      Scientific papers are a little bit different from novels. Journals are not magazines.

      In traditional journals authors submit articles, may or may not have to pay some publication costs, and then the publisher sells the journal to individuals (sometimes) but mostly to libraries. In open access journals, all of the publication costs are borne by the authors so that the articles can be made available to everyone for free.

      • So even in the most like a traditional magazine format where it is sold to readers the authors at best get free publishing?

        Magazine = multiple authors and repeated publishing resulting in issues.
        How does this differ from a journal? I just looked it up and I am pretty sure a scientific Journey is simply a specific type of magazine, specifically one dedicated to furthering scientific research and spreading knowledge of said research (in theory anyways, I am sure some exist to spread personal agendas).

        • by ceoyoyo (59147)

          Most magazines are ad supported. You pay a subscription fee, yes, but if you haven't noticed, most magazines are coming perilously close to the point where they're more advertising than they are content. Journals generally have very little or no advertising. Particularly now that few people actually read paper journals anyway.

          Most magazines publish mostly articles from staff or corresponding writers. If they publish articles from random contributors, they're in a small, self contained section. Journals

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