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What Does It Actually Cost To Publish a Scientific Paper? 166

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the one-trillion-dollars dept.
ananyo writes "Nature has published an investigation into the real costs of publishing research after delving into the secretive, murky world of science publishing. Few publishers (open access or otherwise-including Nature Publishing Group) would reveal their profit margins, but they've pieced together a picture of how much it really costs to publish a paper by talking to analysts and insiders. Quoting from the piece: '"The costs of research publishing can be much lower than people think," agrees Peter Binfield, co-founder of one of the newest open-access journals, PeerJ, and formerly a publisher at PLoS. But publishers of subscription journals insist that such views are misguided — born of a failure to appreciate the value they add to the papers they publish, and to the research community as a whole. They say that their commercial operations are in fact quite efficient, so that if a switch to open-access publishing led scientists to drive down fees by choosing cheaper journals, it would undermine important values such as editorial quality.' There's also a comment piece by three open access advocates setting out what they think needs to happen next to push forward the movement as well as a piece arguing that 'Objections to the Creative Commons attribution license are straw men raised by parties who want open access to be as closed as possible.'"
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What Does It Actually Cost To Publish a Scientific Paper?

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  • filtering (Score:5, Interesting)

    by goombah99 (560566) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @03:15PM (#43305709)

    What I value is a filter. There's two much to read and too much crappy research. The harder it is to publish and the more that difficulty is realted to the quality the better.

    What I also appreciate are special collections that group simmilar themes. I have found over the years that the more electronic things have got the more I have lost out on the serendiptous find of the article that was next to the one I was actually looking for. When I search for things I just get what I search for and that tends to make a tight circle.

    • Re:filtering (Score:5, Interesting)

      by godrik (1287354) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @03:24PM (#43305813)

      If you have problem finding papers, I recommend you try academic search engines. At OSU, we developped theadvisor ( http://theadvisor.osu.edu/ [osu.edu] ). It is a webservice that allows you to search paper that are similar to what you already know. You basically upload a set of papers you know are relevant and the system find what is around.

      We are still working on improving the quality of the database, but I strongly believe that these approaches are the way to go.

      • by noh8rz10 (2716597) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @03:34PM (#43305909)
        I find the argument over pay-for-placement journals kind of silly. I estimate it costs me $50,000 to write a journal article. This includes research, grad students, overhead, etc. Based on that, no big deal if it's an extra $3k to get it published!
        • by dmbasso (1052166) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @03:55PM (#43306159)

          I find the argument over pay-for-placement journals kind of silly. I estimate it costs me $50,000 to write a journal article. This includes research, grad students, overhead, etc. Based on that, no big deal if it's an extra $3k to get it published!

          Well, if that's no big deal, why not hand out more $1K to me, just like that? No? Why? Because I didn't add anything of value to justify that 1K? Well, that's exactly the point.

          • Why do you think a publication charge is unjustified and does not add value? Clearly the peer-review and editing process are useful and necessary. We're just arguing over how to collect it: the old model is distributing the costs in a not very transparent way over the journal subscribers, whereas the new one charges the publishing author. I think the new system is more transparent and fairer.
        • by hedwards (940851) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @03:59PM (#43306185)

          That's the thing, the actual paper itself is the cheapest part of the whole process. It's sort of like restaurants where the food itself is the cheapest part of the experience, but it's why people go to restaurants.

          I personally find the process of charging for access to papers to be counter the spirit of research, now if one is using ones own funds or is otherwise privately funded, it is ones right to do so, but it's damaging to the community as a whole to have such papers held behind pay walls. It can be rather expensive to get them for the purposes of writing a paper, and one doesn't always know if they're going to be of any value until one has read the whole thing.

          But, then again, I find the idea of owning ideas to be rather distasteful, researches can, and should, claim credit for the actual research, but people owning ideas is a rather silly idea, seeing as there are very, very few ideas that are original to the person that gets credited with them and often times nobody really knows the origin of those ideas anyways.

        • by blind biker (1066130) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @04:28PM (#43306451) Journal

          The most famous Open Access publisher, PLoS, only charges $1350 (and often waives all fees). What fucking journal asks for $3000? That's preposterous.

          • by Anonymous Coward

            Sorry, I love open access, but paying to publish, even with waivers, is a recipe for corruption. It used to be (and may still be) that journals operating that way had a disclaimer on all their articles with something to the extent of "This work must be marked as an advertisement in accordance with US statute blah blah blah..."

            There's a reason for that.

            Academic communication is in need of a fundamental revolution, but I don't think pay-to-publish is the way to go. It creates too many incentives for someone t

            • by 15Bit (940730)
              Paying to publish is not inherently a bad idea, but needs to come with a corresponding discount on purchase/subscription costs. By moving some of the burden of journal costs from library budgets to research projects you would discourage publishing of every bit of crap that people produce. The system is currently swamped with both journals and papers, many of them awful or of very limited scientific value and this is a major problem. The current system of free publishing encourages this as researchers can ju
        • by leaen (987954)
          I also find misleading title where they by cost mean publishing cost.

          I find the argument over pay-for-placement journals kind of silly. I estimate it costs me $50,000 to write a journal article. This includes research, grad students, overhead, etc. Based on that, no big deal if it's an extra $3k to get it published!

          Also grad students heavily subsidy your journal article. Add extra $25,000 per student if they found job instead.
          What concerns me most is that proofreading/editing/typography is burden of researcher.
          My optimistic estimate of proofreading/editing s about $5000 including revisions. Here you again subsidy journal/university as you ineffectively do what professional editor could do better with half of time and budget.

          • by noh8rz10 (2716597)
            I don't get your point, so you agree with me is that what your're saying? It's super expensive to write a journal article. If it costs a little bit to publish it in a good place then so what? A small fraction of the total cost and better than free posting on a website.
            • by leaen (987954)

              I don't get your point, so you agree with me is that what your're saying? It's super expensive to write a journal article. If it costs a little bit to publish it in a good place then so what? A small fraction of the total cost and better than free posting on a website.

              I agree that writing article is expensive.
              However this makes second part contrary to what you say. Direct cost are small and payed by university so this is not big factor. However if you add editing and administrative costs they easily sum up to quarter of total cost.
              And because you did not negotiate you will pay that from your pocket.
              You have good to sell(article) and can move to investment banker for example. You should determine terms of contract not other way around.

              • by noh8rz10 (2716597)
                this false dichotomy of direct vs. indirect costs have no bearing. Here's the issue: Q: is it a big deal if a journal charges $3,000 for an article? A: No, because the author has already invested > 10x in the article. The additional journal cost is small. QED.
        • by Jyms (598745)
          That works well for you, but my journal article only cost me (ZAR) R100000 to produce, including research, grad students, overhead, etc. That comes to about $11000. So while your publishing costs is only 6% of the cost of producing the research, for me it is 27%. That really hurts my budget.
      • Re:filtering (Score:5, Informative)

        by blind biker (1066130) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @04:18PM (#43306353) Journal

        If you have problem finding papers, I recommend you try academic search engines. At OSU, we developped theadvisor ( http://theadvisor.osu.edu/ [osu.edu] [osu.edu] ). It is a webservice that allows you to search paper that are similar to what you already know. You basically upload a set of papers you know are relevant and the system find what is around.

        Google Scholar does something similar to this: based on your published papers (including conference papers), it monitors the "journalosphere" and alerts me whenever there are new published papers related to my research. And it's scarily accurate. Scarily, because it reminds me every time how many people are working on topics similar to mine, and that I have competition!

        • by godrik (1287354)

          Yes it is somewhat similar to that. I believe we are using similar algorithms tod o it. The twist in theadvisor is that you can select the "input papers". google scholar uses you publication list as inputs. In the advisor you provide the input list. It allows to perform more targetted searches.

          • The twist in theadvisor is that you can select the "input papers". google scholar uses you publication list as inputs.

            I'm aware of this. You were quite clear in the original post.

    • Re:filtering (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Ambassador Kosh (18352) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @03:41PM (#43305995)

      If they actually did a good job of filtering articles and made actually peer reviewed the articles in them for accuracy you would have a point. However what I have seen is that journal articles are just as full of errors and flat out fabrications as any other regular source is.

      In the end the journals are not doing their jobs of filtering content and that is all they actually provide. What is worse is that professors are often given raises based on how many journal articles are published not who they are published with so there is a great incentive to make crappy journals with lots of bad articles that accept anyone in order to further the cycle.

      The system we have now is massively corrupt and waste of time and money. I don't know if open journals will actually make things better I do know that it is unlikely that they can make things worse.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Gosh, I'm tired of such general bullshit comments. Average quality of research in high impact journals is impressively high these days. (I'm working like crazy and think I do some useful stuff, but some groups are publishing just incredibly awesome papers.)

        I'm not sure in which academic system you get a raise by publishing tons of crappy papers, not here for sure.

    • That was a pretty balanced article and I agree with your filtering comments. Imagine an open access journal of quantum physics taking submissions at $250 a piece. Every quack in the world will be submitting to the extent of their bank account. Unless you are going to blacklist by name, the journal has an obligation to peer review all submissions. Good luck finding reviewers with the time or patience to deal with all the bunk.

      I think there is another take on this too - there are many things whic

      • That was a pretty balanced article and I agree with your filtering comments. Imagine an open access journal of quantum physics taking submissions at $250 a piece. Every quack in the world will be submitting to the extent of their bank account.

        Most fees I have heard came after work was accepted. So under the present system you can submit all you want.

        I would suggest that you try to write up some junk paper on quantum physics and submit it to arXiv and see how easy it is.

    • by PopeRatzo (965947)

      What I value is a filter.

      They're called "journals" and the filter is built into the system.

      And what the filter doesn't catch, science usually does, but that might take a little longer.

      Plus, you got that big-ass filter between your ears.

    • In my experience, those two "problems" cancel each other out somewhat. I subscribed to RSS feeds from most of the journals relevant to my field, and every few days I'm flooded with relevant, hot-off-the-press papers to read. I find they're mostly believable research. I get ideas I wouldn't have thought of otherwise, ideas I apply to my own research and hypotheses. I think this may be what you are talking about with the serendipitous finds.

      What do you mean "too much crappy research" anyway? The pape
  • by damn_registrars (1103043) <damn.registrars@gmail.com> on Thursday March 28, 2013 @03:15PM (#43305717) Homepage Journal
    Scientific publishing is where the worlds of scientific research and business collide. People who do scientific research are used to needing to get things done with the smallest investment of resources, time, and money possible. Business people are skilled at finding the most profitable points for selling their wares. This collision has one particular effect that does not meet standard thoughts on free markets; competition brings prices UP. Look at PLoS journals for example; they started with very low publishing costs and now for non-members it costs quite nearly as much to publish in PLoS ONE as it does to publish in Nature or Science. Even competing journals from different publication houses are increasing their prices in parallel rather than trying to compete for authors by price.

    And as the summary suggests, this is muddied by the fact that the journals don't like to be upfront with their publication charges or charge structure. Many journals even bury how their charges work - do they charge by the page, by the image, some combination thereof, or something completely different? This makes it a massive pain in the ass for a researcher to decide whether or not to try a new (to them) journal for their paper, when they can't figure out how much it would cost to publish in this unfamiliar journal in comparison to one they usually publish in.
    • This collision has one particular effect that does not meet standard thoughts on free markets; competition brings prices UP.

      That's very common. In the antiquated "free market" view, competition inevitably drives prices down. In modern marketing, competition is by features, conveniance, marketing, and status symbol value. (Academic journals are in the status symbol category.) Pricing is driven by implicit or explicit collusion, with competitors striving to push prices upwards.

      This model applies to appliances, autos, cell phones, music, movie tickets, etc. Some things still have price competition, but they're mostly commodities

      • Many moons ago when I was at univeristy I attended, they kicked off a student/faculty committee to study how Cooper Union was able to provide full-tuition scholarships to all registered undergrad students (kindof free as in beer) and how it worked out. As it turned out, CU used a combination of fundraising and endowment income to make this happen.

        After a bit of research, the student/faculty committee found that it was possible for the endowment of my university was sufficient to make a similar offer. The

  • No (Score:5, Insightful)

    by errandum (2014454) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @03:15PM (#43305719)

    It costs them nothing. Everyone that does actual work does not get payed for it by the publication.

    Only the magazines and websites get any kind of money for them, and hosting a 3mb pdf will never cost 30$ per copy, no matter how much they say it does. It's taking advantage of a system that was established when only print would do and actually printing and delivery would cost lots of money.

    Right now, it's ridiculous and it will die sooner or later if someone comes forth with a good alternative (no matter how good nature is).

    And the argument that no money makes things unbiased is complete bulshit. In that case, judges should not be payed either.

    • by goombah99 (560566)

      If you think that true then why publish in a jounral? send all your articles to Xarciv for free.

      • send all your articles to Xarciv for free.

        Naw, just run them through Dreamweaver and post them to Angelfire.com or livejournal.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Because of 'Peer Review', which contributes to the reputation and the quality of the published articles. Coincidentally, the peer review process is done for free by volunteers. Essentially the modern scientific journals are clearing houses, where manuscripts that come in are distributed to reviewers and the reviews are returned back to the authors. They can drop the bullshit about graphics design and what not. Every science journal requires the authors to submit text and figures and electronic format ready

      • Re:No (Score:4, Interesting)

        by jklovanc (1603149) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @04:14PM (#43306309)

        By the way the projected Xarciv operating costs for 2013-2017 are projected to average of $826,000 per year, including indirect expenses. It is free to the users but the costs are paid for by donations. They also don't edit, peer review or produce journals. Publishing an edited, peer reviewed paper in a journal is much more that making it available on e web site.

        • And xxx.lanl.gov - yes it goes way back - is not exactly the easiest place to separate out what is good from bad. Take a subject such as Astrophysics. In ONE day there are 68 new submissions. 298 in the past five days. Even in the "sub" group Cosmology there were 31 papers in the past day. Filterning at the journal level does serve a valuable purpose.

        • And how much does it cost the government in money taken from grants to publish or obtain published articles, or in elevated library fees so their institutions can subscribe to various journals? Those operating cost btw are 0.015% of the NSF yearly budget. You saying they can't fund a government journal. for that? Especially when they know they can reduce the size of grants by requiring publication in government journals?

          Yes epijournals would add some expense, they are after all anotheer layer of processing

          • by jklovanc (1603149)

            Here are some issues;
            Bigger government. Conservatives would call that another service that the Government should not be involved in.
            Government bias. There will be many people stating that government journals will favor government positions and would loose independence.
            All papers are not government funded. How do you recover costs from publishing the non-funded papers?

            The extra processing would add a tiny amount. The editing and the reviewing can be obtained from the same place that the present day journals obtain them: the science community, and at the same cost: $0.

            I guess you have never dealt with getting papers reviewed and edited by several people. The papers have to be sent out, people reminded, multi

        • by pantaril (1624521)

          Publishing an edited, peer reviewed paper in a journal is much more that making it available on e web site.

          There may be some value in editing and peer reviewing the article, but if the research was funded by public money, the results should be always also available for free even in unedited form without peer review. I'm not against research journals charging money for their work, but preventing the original submission from being shared for free under the claim of copyright is in my opinion theft. Public paid for the research, copyright should belong to them (or rather the research and all of it's results should

          • by jklovanc (1603149)

            The problem with unedited, non-peer reviewed papers is that research fraud is too common these days. As it stands now I don't trust any paper that has not gone through a peer review and even that only makes me less rigorous in checking similar studies.

    • hosting a 3mb pdf will never cost 30$ per copy, no matter how much they say it does.

      Getting to that 3mb pdf is a long process, which does cost money. Now of course whether or not it really costs $1500-2000 (USD) to do that is another matter, but it does cost money. The hosting is, of course, trivial in expense. However the files do need to be hosted in a reasonable manner so that the papers can be searched and updated (particularly updated when other papers reference them).

      So there is certainly a cost incurred by the journals. The question is how well the publication charges refle

      • hosting a 3mb pdf will never cost 30$ per copy, no matter how much they say it does.

        Getting to that 3mb pdf is a long process, which does cost money.

        How much money does it cost to type "pdflatex"?

    • Right now, it's ridiculous and it will die sooner or later if someone comes forth with a good alternative (no matter how good nature is).

      PLoS publishes Open Access journals with high impact factors. More importantly, they publish extremely interesting scientific research and have visibility that goes way beyond the impact factor alone. A lot of people link to PLoS articles in their blogs, on Google+, Reddit etc.

      Nature, in contrast, keeps articles captive. Even old articles, from the 20s and 30s (some topics are still relevant, like surface tension), can be only accessed by paying those greedy bastards. Fuck Nature.

    • Really? How much is it costing you to maintain that secure hosting site? How much are you paying the administrator(s)? What are you doing about archival? Providing access to individuals and libraries? You seem to think of it as just a cost of storage on a hard drive. Its not.

      • by errandum (2014454)

        Spread through the thousands of articles they have the cost would be minimal. And there are other solutions like colaborative efforts between universities where one would take care of their own stuff. Planetlab is a good example on how this is possible.

        And if they sell 100 articles / month you have all the costs and proffits covered. But they get way more than that since unviersities pay them for access, etc.

    • by Sir_Sri (199544)

      Everyone that does actual work does not get payed for it by the publication.

      Wait, the people who organize all of the reviews, keep the list of reviewers, store all of that information, arrange for the printing, manage the typesetting, chase after academics who don't format their work properly or who submit in a bad format are not doing 'actual work'?

      Yes, the core content of the journal is paid for by someone else, but that doesn't mean all the people who exist in support of the journal itself are not doing real work. By your logic our department of 20 professors and 160 grad stude

      • Wait, the people who organize all of the reviews, keep the list of reviewers, store all of that information, arrange for the printing, manage the typesetting, chase after academics who don't format their work properly or who submit in a bad format are not doing 'actual work'?

        Perhaps the GP meant that not everyone gets paid, as opposed to nobody gets paid.

        • by Sir_Sri (199544)

          It costs them nothing. Everyone that does actual work does not get payed for it by the publication.

          He's suggesting that it costs nothing to do the publishing job, and goes on about how it doesn't cost 30 dollars to host a 3mb PDF file. Which is true, if no one ever reads the PDF file and you just have an IT guy uploading thousands of PDF's to a server.

          But that isn't what publishing it.

          Publishing journals costs money. Publishing physical journals as well as online ones costs more money, but those are real costs. And someone will have to pay them. Certainly it is governments paying for the publishers,

  • Simple rule ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 28, 2013 @03:16PM (#43305723)

    Never trust the people who make the money off something when they dismiss your alternatives.

    Of course the journal publishers are going to say they bring value to the game. In reality, they're just looking out for their own bottom line.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Sigh. I hear what you're saying, but I'm in research, which is to say that I publish for a living. And I tell you if someone put their research on some random website, I'll read it, I don't care. I'll use it if I can. But no one puts anything of value just anywhere. An article not in a journal is like a website not indexed by Google. Not to say there aren't good unpublished papers out there, but I don't have the time to go look for them.

      Also, the whole concept of an academic paper is that it builds on

    • Never trust the people who make the money off something when they dismiss your alternatives.

      That's pretty near everyone who makes money off things.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    "But publishers of subscription journals insist that such views are misguided — born of a failure to appreciate the value they add to the papers they publish"

    Adding value doesn't add to the costs.

    It merely makes the increase in price over the costs reasoned.

    A peer review panel that works for free adds ZERO to the costs. but they do valuable work, which for free, does NOT increase the costs, but DOES increase the value.

    • by Yebyen (59663)

      Are you crazy? Ain't nobody got time for that.

      (Now you're on the other side, and I'm the one insisting that you should work for free.)

      • Are you crazy? Ain't nobody got time for that.

        (Now you're on the other side, and I'm the one insisting that you should work for free.)

        Judges for journals already work like this; it's just the editor and the publishing house that actually get money. Everyone else is paid in prestige, which is the same thing you get when published in said journal. Therefore, the journals are worth as much as the reputations of those who judge and are published, plus the salary of an editor and the actual costs of publishing, indexing and archiving. Everything else is an add-on that could be provided by any lowest-bidding third party (for that matter, the

    • A peer review panel that works for free adds ZERO to the costs. but they do valuable work, which for free, does NOT increase the costs, but DOES increase the value.

      They are adding to the costs; they just eat the costs themselves. They're not adding to the price.

  • Inflated costs, connections, bias, kickbacks etc. Same story we see all the time.

  • As in many cases, their costs are mostly to hire people who are capable of making intelligent editing decisions as well as doing the bulk work of editing.

    Who do you want in charge of the place where you're submitting a paper? Someone who has little education, low intelligence and low personality skills, thus is paid very little? Or a relatively highly-paid, educated, personable and intelligent editor?

    If you want quality, it costs all the way. It's not limited to the scientists alone. You will need to hire a

    • by Ambassador Kosh (18352) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @03:44PM (#43306035)

      So when will this quality of editing staff actually manifest in better edited articles? After having to read far too many journal articles in a pretty wide range of journals the quality has been pretty universally poor.

      Quality should cost more. However just because something costs more does not mean it is high quality.

      • by stymy (1223496)
        The editorial staff selects the papers that will be published, not just edits what will be published.
    • by CBM (51233)

      In the scientific field I work in, the primary journals are owned and run by our (non-profit) professional societies. The journal expenses are transparently reported the society management and membership. There is no incentive for profit, but rather to have an excellent quality journal that will be preserved for posterity. Refereeing is done pro-bono by professional members. After a few years from publication, the journal issues become open access.

      Even though it is a non-profit enterprise, it's still ex

  • Breaks on blogs first than makes it to mainstream media. A lot...

    And seriously, how many times have you read articles on CNN.com filled with typos and poor grammar.

    ***

    Sorry, I believe a system akin to Wikipedia but for research would do a far better job than the commercial journals in this role.

    • by PortHaven (242123)

      Doesn't even have to be non-commercial. Think of all the chemical and lab equipment companies that would love o advertise. Granted, it wouldn't make millions. But probably could sustain itself.

  • Which question? (Score:5, Informative)

    by jklovanc (1603149) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @04:09PM (#43306269)

    What Does It Actually Cost To Publish a Scientific Paper?

    There are several questions that may get swept up in this debate;
    How much does it cost to publish an externally edited scientific paper?
    How much does it cost to publish a peer reviewed scientific paper?
    How much does it cost to publish a scientific journal?
    How much does it cost to publish an externally edited, peer reviewed scientific paper?
    How much does it cost to publish an externally edited, peer reviewed scientific paper in a scientific journal?

    All of these have different costs. ArXiv is an e-print repository funded by donations with an operating costs for 2013-2017 are projected to average of $826,000 per year, including indirect expenses. They are not editors, peer reviewers or journals. In effect they are the entry level in scientific paper publishing and they have significant expenses. Even if peer reviewers and editors are not paid there are still significant support staff needed to shuffle the documents around and maintain the servers, hardware cost, bandwidth costs, insurance costs, customer service costs, etc. The cost of publishing is non-zero and adding editing, peer reviews and journals adds to the cost. Someone has to pay for it and the question is whom.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      It's the taxpayer who does it through library subscriptions. Might as well take out the middleman and subsidize academic journals directly. It'll be cheaper and everybody will have access instead of just academics.

    • As opposed to the $10,000,000 annual operating budget of Wikipedia or the $16,000,000 annual budget of the Internet Archive?

      • Re:Which question? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by jklovanc (1603149) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @06:20PM (#43307355)

        Both are funded by donations and grants. Both have a much bigger audience than scientific journals and therefore a much bigger pool of possible donors to draw from. Going to a donation model would in effect be a voluntary subscription fee that may or may not cover costs. .

    • "Whom" sounds cool, let's use it everywhere! :D

    • publishing and they have significant expenses. Even if peer reviewers and editors are not paid there are still significant support staff needed to shuffle the documents around and maintain the servers, hardware cost, bandwidth costs, insurance costs, customer service costs, etc. The cost of publishing is non-zero and adding editing, peer reviews and journals adds to the cost. Someone has to pay for it and the question is whom.

      And once again we go round the usual arguments: The root cause of hi

      • by jklovanc (1603149)

        I think the thing you missed is that publishing is not the same as hosting. Who decides which document goes on which computer? What happens if one or more of the small repositories goes down? Who get the editing and peer reviews done? These small repositories are not going to provide any customer support.

        Who uses USENET now? There might be a reason. If is is so simple and easy, why hasn't it been done by now? Perhaps it is not as simple as you think.

        • I think the thing you missed is that publishing is not the same as hosting.

          Indeed, "publishing" is *not needed*, only hosting is. "Publishing" is the dubious service that "publishers" offer, after the papers have already been written, selected, peer reviewed, re-edited by the authors, and accepted, all for free by the academic community as part of their job.

          Who decides which document goes on which computer?

          Anyone who wants to copy the documents and host them. Imagine thousands of university librari

          • by jklovanc (1603149)

            Publishing" is the dubious service that "publishers" offer, after the papers have already been written, selected, peer reviewed, re-edited by the authors, and accepted, all for free by the academic community as part of their job.

            Wrong, or did you miss the whole start of this discussion where the editing staff for a journal resigned from the publisher? The publisher does much of the selection, editing and peer reviews.

            Imagine thousands of university librarians talking to local academics, then downloading the journals of interest into a local archive, accessible to everyone on campus, and even the wider public.

            Imagine a local academic talking to thousands of librarians trying to convince them to host their paper. That may be a full time job.

            You pick another repository somewhere else in the world which has a copy of the paper you want.

            Remember you are talking about small repositories that will not impact a host's storage or bandwidth. What is a paper is only hosted on a few sites?

            If the local university library has a journal archive, and you want support, you can just pick up the phone and call someone, and if you really want to you can walk down the street and get someone to help you *in person*.

            If it is not hosted locally one would c

            • Wrong, or did you miss the whole start of this discussion where the editing staff for a journal resigned from the publisher? The publisher does much of the selection, editing and peer reviews.

              Do you mean the editors of the Journal Of Library Administration? Do you actually know why they resigned? Because they believe that the publisher of the journal, Taylor & Francis, doesn't deserve the free copyrights that they collect from the authors who actually do the work. And by the way, the editors and

      • by hweimer (709734)

        The root cause of high costs is centralization, which is a symptom of the need for control by the publishers. The solution is decentralization, which means mirroring (technically) and free copying (legally).

        Not wanting to spoil your argument, but basic economic theory [wikipedia.org] says exactly the opposite.

        • You're not spoiling my argument. There are no economies of scale in publishing many journals from a single website. The reason is that handling an order of magnitude more traffic requires much more expensive hardware, more performant software, and more maintenance at the same level of service.

          Economies of scale on the web are based on decentralization ideas, distributed server farms, crowdsourcing, etc. A publisher wanting to serve many journals from a single website faces the need for server farms, compl

    • by pantaril (1624521)

      there are still significant support staff needed to shuffle the documents around and maintain the servers, hardware cost, bandwidth costs, insurance costs, customer service costs, etc.

      ArXiv is great but i wonder how much of these costs are waranted?

      Servers maintance, hardware costs, insurance costs could be almost zero if they used p2p plattform like piratebay to distribute the papers.

      Generaly Library.nu proved that repository of scientific papers could be made and run pretty cheaply. According to wikipedia, they even made a profit probably on online ads on their website.

      • by jklovanc (1603149)

        As I was trying to point out hosting is only part of the story there are other aspects to the cost of a journal.

    • In the era of paper, storing copies of papers was not a trivial cost. First the journal's publisher and professional society should keep copies. And hopefully copies are distributed among libraries and scientists around the world. Publishers areborn and die. So are scientists. Then their collections are often lost. Libraries usually fare better.

      If you think the web will fare better, look at all the garbage web pages from the 1990s that have been lost. The huge turnover in dot.com businesses and cha
  • And how much of this is due to Hollywood accounting?
    The kind where Christopher Baen is paid 5% of the profit of his move "Light Ninja Naps" by Galactic Studios and despite a box office of $100 billion,
    is only paid $100,000 because much of the reveneue went to Galactic Sudio parking, Galactive Movie Equipment Rental, Galatic Set Rental ....?

  • I could sell gumballs for $1000 a piece and still be quite efficient, I just wouldn't be passing my savings to the customer.

    Your complaints about my price would be born of a failure to appreciate the value I provide.

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