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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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  • 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.

  • 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 on Thursday March 28, 2013 @03:16PM (#43305727)

    "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.

  • 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 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 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.

  • 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.

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