Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
The Internet Science

Free/Open-Access Academic Journals Growing 208

An anonymous reader writes "Wired News reports on the growing number of free/open-access academic journals. The Directory of Open Access Journals lists 1527 journals. The Public Library of Science (PLoS) is launching three new open-access journals this year: PLoS Computational Biology, PLoS Genetics and PLoS Pathogens. The National Institutes of Health's (NIH) Public Access Policy is also part of the movement. The traditional academic journals aren't happy, saying that it's unethical to accept money for publishing. But the traditional journals face their own ethical dilemmas by accepting money from advertisers."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Free/Open-Access Academic Journals Growing

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 14, 2005 @02:12AM (#12231154)
    Isn't it interesting that the journals that are most open, have something to do with "Bio"? "Bio", the next big money maker, federal, and state alike.
    • by maxjenius22 ( 560382 ) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @03:45AM (#12231438)
      The problem with other fields' journals, like CS, is that the algorithms introduced often don't have free implementations of their experiments and data. So, even if the article is free as in speech, the "science" isn't.
      • Its hard to include code and still be legal. Even the GPL is incompatable with the GFDL
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gfdl ...other free publishing liscences are also hard to complay with. Public domain doesn't give the author enough rights. We need a balanced, standard, easy to use free/open liscence. Creative commons is a good start.
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creative_com m ons
        Free publishing in 2005 is about where free software was in 1991, there is lots of room for standardisation and innovation, but
  • by KingSkippus ( 799657 ) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @02:15AM (#12231162) Homepage Journal

    It's unethical to accept money for publishing? As opposed to what, not being published at all?

    If your knowledge isn't shared, what's the point of research? And if traditional academic journals won't publish your research because of a simple lack of space, why shouldn't you seek alternative outlets?

    It seems to me that this is a wonderful thing. Persistent knowledge--that's the key to human intellectual evolution, and what makes us so much smarter than those other dumb monkeys. Anything that facilitates this process will only make us collectively smarter.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      "It seems to me that this is a wonderful thing. Persistent knowledge--that's the key to human intellectual evolution, and what makes us so much smarter than those other dumb monkeys. Anything that facilitates this process will only make us collectively smarter."

      How can such a "smart" species, have such a "dumb" concept as war?
      • War is what happens when too many people have reached the level cap and have all the good gear. That's when they start attacking everything in sight for loot.
        • Remember dude; Intelligence is relative as well. Our species is smarter than the other primates (who all participate in and precipitate some sort of violence against themselves) but, assuming we avoid extinction in the next hundred thousand years or so, we can expect to spin off an even more intelligence species (or multiple species even!) Before we let go of our need to war, we've got to show that we are smart enough to let go of our self-hatred and the despair and demorality of Religion.
    • by ghoti ( 60903 ) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @02:24AM (#12231204) Homepage
      The point is that if you pay to have your paper published, then perhaps the reviewing standards arent't that strict. And what makes a good journal is a tough reviewing process that will only let the best papers get published (see the story about the randomly generated paper a few stories back for a counterexample ...).

      You are right of course, that research should be published - but publications are also a measure of academic acievement. So if everything gets published , how can you tell what is useful and what is crap?
      • by CowbertPrime ( 206514 ) <(ten.y2.trebwoc) (ta) (oomris)> on Thursday April 14, 2005 @02:39AM (#12231268) Homepage
        So if everything gets published , how can you tell what is useful and what is crap?

        slasdot-style moderation! :)
        -1 This is wrong, everyone knows that.
        +1 This is right, everyone knows that.

        Or, a wikipedia-type system, where everyone can review the article, and everyone else can read the reviews and decide for themselves.
        • by NegativeOneUserID ( 812728 ) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @05:24AM (#12231660)
          Mod parent down!
        • This is essentially the Consumer Reports model brought to its logical conlusion on the web and in some form or other is obviously (i.e. everyone knows that)the ideal model for scientific publication. It provides for the unfettered flow of information (the very foundation of science) while still providing some measure of peer review. If the information flows freely there is no specter of wondering whose monetary interests are controling the flow (well, ok, there is, but that's a more subtle issue than the on
        • So...

          When was the last time you seen the slashdot mod system work properly. I for one often find +5 informative for complete and utter crap.
        • Or, a wikipedia-type system, where everyone can review the article, and everyone else can read the reviews and decide for themselves.

          Everyone? Should we put the studied opinions of professors, graduate students and lay persons on equal footing? I think not. This is akin to letting the Intelligent Design crowd debate Biologists, creating an illusion to the mass public of scientific doubt. Many issues for publication have a political angle that can be minimized by giving weight to studied opinions.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 14, 2005 @04:16AM (#12231497)
        You are obviously not a scientist because you have no idea how scientific publishing works, at least in the US.

        Best journals, with highest sientific standards, tough referees, are those charging publications costs. Why? They are published by non-profit organizations, and have no money. Usually the bigger the charges the better the reputation of the journal.

        Commercial publishers usually dont charge the authors, they make money by selling the journals. However, they are less reputable than the non-commerial journals. For example, Annals of Physics (commercial, published by Academic Press) does charge but has a worse reputation than Physical Review (non profit) which charges a lot.

        Not knowing how science publishing works, you apply economics and draw wrong conclusions which are not consistent with the facts. The odds of being rejected are higher for journals who charge, because they are non-commercial and have higher scientific standards. THEY ONLY CHARGE YOU AFTER THE PAPER WAS ACCEPTED, IF YOU ARE REJECTED YOU DONT PAY A DIME.

        Regarding my own research, I always try to publish in non-commercial journals, with page charges, because they have a better reputation. I only send papers to commercial journals if they are not good enough for a non-commnercial journals.
        • by ghoti ( 60903 ) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @04:39AM (#12231555) Homepage
          Well you're wrong, I am a scientist [kosara.net], and I also publish [kosara.net]. It's just that in my area (visualization), there aren't any non-commercial journals, only journals which will ask your for page fees that are not compulsory.

          But the situation is different in physics, I guess. And you're right about paying after being accepted, of course, but it still feels strange. But that needs some getting used to, I guess.
          • by steve_l ( 109732 ) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @08:16AM (#12232237) Homepage
            Maybe it really varies by subject; Biology is a wierd one because there is so much money there.

            CS, by its very nature, is so computer centric, and often there are the accompanying code, screenshots, demo programs and videos: the web is the natural way to distribute this stuff.

            Even in CS, the ACM is not free to read, it is relatively low cost compared to the 'retail' publishers, who are still up to their old practises.

            I am fortunate I recently had a paper turned down by one of the latter, because their journal rules explicitly stated "not to be published online". I have got it into an IEEE conference instead, and we will be hosting it for everyone to see.

            And that, when you think about it, is what matters. The more people read your work, the more they may learn from it (or, for people playing academic politics, the more they may cite it).
            • Most people put all their papers online, regardless of anything they signed. This is a very common practice, and I guess the publishers are very aware of it - but don't do anything in order not to lose their popularity with researchers.
              • This is true. Many publishers also either have specific clauses that give authors extra distribution and reprint/reuse rights, or they have unwritten agreements giving the author those same rights. Technically in those cases, it is against the law. But the publishers are also fully aware of who makes their existence possible. Hence the blind eye approach...
        • Best journals, with highest sientific standards, tough referees, are those charging publications costs.

          Medical journals do charge for publication, and I can confirm that this field practically all journals are (at least officially) linked to non-profit organizations.

          However, they are often published and distributed by private companies which do like to make a dime here and there.

          The result is a bastardized system in which you pay a significant amount of money for publication, in the form of a reimburse

        • Actually some journals now charge nominal fees for submissions because they are getting Swamped.

          I think Journal of Neuroscience is doing this.
        • If a reasonably popular journal costs $100 or more a year for a subscription, why would it need to charge fees of any kind? Why wouldn't there be plenty of money around to even pay authors for their work?

          In other words, where does the money go?

          D

      • Interestingly enough, one of the biggest pushes towards these open journals in the in the Bio field. However, traditionally in the Bio field the best journals - Nature (and all its varients such as Nature Biotech, Nature Genetics etc...), Science etc... all charge for publication. These are by far some of the hardest journals to get into, have some of the strictest review processes and are consistantly rated as having the highest impact factors (a measure of how influential a report in one of these journa
    • by sas-dot ( 873348 ) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @02:43AM (#12231278)
      It's not correct to say traditional publishers don't ask for money to publish. Some journals require you to pay fee [nature.com](see in page charges heading). See this link for a debate on the open journals [nature.com] published in Nature
      • It's not correct to say traditional publishers don't ask for money to publish. Some journals require you to pay fee(see in page charges heading). See this link for a debate on the open journals published in Nature

        While it's true that publishers charge page fees, every journal I've ever published in will waive them if you are not able or even willing to pay. (Color figures are an exception, but there is significant additional technical difficulty there.) Many researchers are short on funds, and journa

    • The medical research community seems to be behind the curve on this stuff, but ACM http://portal.acm.org/ [acm.org] and IEEE http://ieee.org/ [ieee.org] have been fairly progressive. Individual subscriptions to the ACM portal are reasonable, and the site-wide subscription for universities isn't that bad either. I'm involved with ACM SIGDA http://www.sigda.org/ [sigda.org], and if you join (free), you get on-line access to all the SIGDA sponsored conference and journal articles. SIGDA will in fact mail you a DVD every year with the past
    • >It's unethical to accept money for publishing.

      What a nonsense.
      What is NOT unethical to accept money for?
      A kidney?
      Fucking moron (Not the parent poster; I mean the article author)...

      Call me back when you want to promote the idea that it is unethical to accept money in return for sex. I'd like to promote it in a local red light district.

      >If your knowledge isn't shared, what's the point of research?

      Fun? The thrill of discovery?

      It's like you said non-published researchers are shit 'cause they don't g
  • by robogun ( 466062 ) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @02:17AM (#12231171)
    Generate one automagically here [mit.edu] and see if it is accepted.
  • by DoctoRoR ( 865873 ) * on Thursday April 14, 2005 @02:20AM (#12231185) Homepage

    I never understood the economics of peer-reviewed scientific journals. The authors don't get any money and are usually tech-savvy enough to produce well-formatted papers. The peer-reviewers (at least when I peer reviewed) didn't get any money. And being an editor is an academic feather in your cap. So the cost of content and the cost of reviewing the content is close to zero. But some journals cost individuals and especially the institutions a large amount of money. In this day of electronic typesetting and distribution, does it make any sense?

    Take the New England Journal of Medicine. It's about $150 for an individual subscription and ranges from $1000 to $17,000 for institutions depending on the size. This is for a publication that doesn't pay authors, and in fact can make authors bend over backwards. No wonder all sorts of publication models are being explored.

    • So the cost of content and the cost of reviewing the content is close to zero. But some journals cost individuals and especially the institutions a large amount of money. In this day of electronic typesetting and distribution, does it make any sense?
      They have people skills. They are good at dealing with people. Can't you understand that?? WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE!?
    • I have worked for a publishing company and could answer your question.

      Apart from the simple economics of demand and supply, the publishing industry believes in pyramid of knowledge. More people are at the bottom of pyramid and are less interested in (technical) knowledge/expertise etc.

      A journal/book/dart is targetted to a class of readers. This is called 'pitching'. A highly technical book/journal is likely to be read by limited number of readers.

      This leaves the marketing people no other option exce

    • by Jon Peterson ( 1443 ) <jon.snowdrift@org> on Thursday April 14, 2005 @04:27AM (#12231528) Homepage
      I work for a major medical publisher, so I'll explain what I can...

      "I never understood the economics of peer-reviewed scientific journals. The authors don't get any money"

      This is correct, authors are not paid for submissions.

      " and are usually tech-savvy enough to produce well-formatted papers."

      This is incorrect. Formatting even simple papers is difficult, let alone ones with complex graphs and tables. It's not something an author can (or wants) to do. In our case we mark the data up in a complex XML schema and do some clever layout things to format the articles. Many places just do it by hand in Quark or whatever.

      " The peer-reviewers (at least when I peer reviewed) didn't get any money."

      Correct.

      " And being an editor is an academic feather in your cap."

      Incorrect. Articles are edited by professional editors. That means you need, at _least_, a doctorate in medicine, a very high standard of English, and several years editorial experience. This isn't a cheap person to employ, and you need many of them. These people are of course helped by a team of professional sub-editors and copy-editors.

      "So the cost of content and the cost of reviewing the content is close to zero."

      Not at all. The other major cost is the cost of reviewing papers. A major journal will receive ten times more papers than it can publish. Each one needs to be read and evaluated. They must _all_ be read by _several_ people with the knowledge to actually understand what the paper is talking about. Then those people must meet weekly (or however often the publication comes out) and decide which papers are in and which are out. Then the whole peer review and editorial process begins.

      Other jobs that cost money are:

      Statisticians. A professional is needed to check the figures and calculations in the papers, as they are often wrong.

      Production assistants. Peer reviewers and authors are not paid. This gives them little incentive to do things either on time or in the way they are asked. Someone has to nicely chase them and organise them and help them.

      Technical people (like me!). Converting large amounts of complex XML into things like printer ready PDF (that's as in commercial printer, not laserjet), XHTML, exports for pubmed etc, is not trivial.

      " But some journals cost individuals and especially the institutions a large amount of money. In this day of electronic typesetting and distribution, does it make any sense?"

      Yes. Electronic typesetting is not cheap, not is something automatic just because its electronic. A high quality journal cannot be laid out by machine. A human has to decide where articles go, how figures are positions etc. No layout engine we've ever seen is up to this except in simple cases.

      Take the New England Journal of Medicine. It's about $150 for an individual subscription and ranges from $1000 to $17,000 for institutions depending on the size. This is for a publication that doesn't pay authors, and in fact can make authors bend over backwards. No wonder all sorts of publication models are being explored.
      • by evvk ( 247017 ) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @05:49AM (#12231720)
        > Electronic typesetting is not cheap,

        Yes it is. Ever head of LaTeX? Many journals in the more tech-savvy fields (maths/cs/physics/engineering) want camera ready documents using their provided LaTeX document class.
        • by justforaday ( 560408 ) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @08:42AM (#12232415)
          I work for a medical publication and I can assure you that our authors, however brilliant they may be in their field, are simply not up to the task of providing LaTeX documents. Most are competent (at best) at using a computer. However, they can look at a radiograph and tell you exactly what's wrong and several ways to go about fixing it...
          • But you see, journals in fields where scientists are capable, and expected, to use LaTeX are just as expensive. The "typesetting is so expensive" excuse thing just doesn't hold. Ask any other type of publication what they would do if all their content for free - here is a hint: their eyes would fill with dollar signs.

          • LaTeX markup is trivially, stupidly simple. I'm the author, so I put my name in \author{my.name.here}. I want a title, so I say \maketitle. I've written an abstract, so I put it in an abstract command: \abstract{my.abstract.here}. I want to title the first section ``Introduction'', so I write \section{Introduction}. Remember to put two carriage returns between paragraphs.

            Grad students usually pick up all that, and more, in a weekend. Are you telling us that MDs and Biology Ph.Ds are too stupid to inv

      • Incorrect. Articles are edited by professional editors. That means you need, at _least_, a doctorate in medicine, a very high standard of English, and several years editorial experience. This isn't a cheap person to employ, and you need many of them.

        Dang, I always knew you medical types had more money. CS journals, in my experience as an author, referee, and guest editor, only employ paid copy editors, who are only concerned with English. All the rest of the editors are volunteers.

      • No layout engine we've ever seen is up to this except in simple cases.
        Well, you wanna know the solution? Make your cases simple. Seriously. A paragraph is a paragraph is a paragraph, and a figure is a figure. It honestly doesn't matter whether the kerning is perfect, or if all the appropriate ligatures are in place, or even if the various figures line up exactly. Just simplify your markup, and then let the program deal with it.
      • by Phillip2 ( 203612 ) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @07:47AM (#12232081)
        "This is incorrect. Formatting even simple papers is difficult, let alone ones with complex graphs and tables. It's not something an author can (or wants) to do."

        This is patent nonsense. About 90% of the papers that I have published to require camera ready copy. In general the most that the publishers have to do is stick their copyright lines at the bottom.

        "Not at all. The other major cost is the cost of reviewing papers. A major journal will receive ten times more papers than it can publish. Each one needs to be read and evaluated."

        This would be read and evaluated by peer reviewers. Whom you noticable do not pay. So, in fact, its the cost of paying for an editor, and a secretary to keep track of who is doing what.

        "Electronic typesetting is not cheap, not is something automatic just because its electronic. A human has to decide where articles go, how figures are positions etc. "

        Generally speaking, the authors. What you say is true for a few journals but I doubt that it is true for most.

        Journal publishers are on a pork barrel. They make something like 5bn dollars a year just in the US. And they prevent the scientists from doing their job. I can not access full text of the past publications. I'm even in the absurd position that I am breaking copyright by publishing my own work, on my own web site.

        I firmly hope that the days of the current business model of scientific publishers is over. Open access is not only desirable, its vital.

        Phil
        • "This is incorrect. Formatting even simple papers is difficult, let alone ones with complex graphs and tables. It's not something an author can (or wants) to do."

          This is patent nonsense. About 90% of the papers that I have published to require camera ready copy. In general the most that the publishers have to do is stick their copyright lines at the bottom.

          To be honest, this makes you sound like some high school/college kid who has never published an article, but I will give you the benefit of the doubt

          • by hanssprudel ( 323035 ) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @11:35AM (#12234235)
            To be honest, this makes you sound like some high school/college kid who has never published an article, but I will give you the benefit of the doubt, and ask you what field you work in.

            No, you are the one who comes across as extremely ignorant. I can't speak for the original author, but, as has been stated several times in this thread, authors preparing camera ready articles in LaTeX is standard in the more mathematical sciences. This includes math, physics, computer science, statistics, etc.

            Trust me, scientists cannot format a paper for publishing, don't want to, and shouldn't be required to. Preparing a paper for print requires professionals that have training and experience at their jobs. Someday you should take a look at a pile of grant applications, which tend to represent the best writing most scientists can do. You're lucky to avoid serious grammatical errors, and are unlikely to see even correct indenting, much less some beautiful multi-page layout with embedded figures, multicolumn text flow, pretty typesetting, etc. It already takes months to write a paper, and now you want people with no training or interest to learn how to become publishers? Ridiculous.

            I am at the mathematical institution of a major university right now. There are over a hundred researchers in this building alone - and I promise you that to the last one they are all capable of preparing their own papers for publication in LaTeX. Even turning in a masters thesis done some other way is frowned upon greatly.

            Also, since the papers are reformatted (both text and graphics) for publishing, the publishers don't even want the authors to try to format their papers, because it will look like crap, and it just makes more work for them. Normally you submit your article text in a fairly non-structured form, and submit your graphics and charts separately in a different format.

            I don't understand how you can claim to work in academic publishing and you don't even seem to know what LaTeX is. In LaTeX, you define the structure of the document, and all the typesetting is done for automatically. I have the aesthetic sense of a warthog, and I can produce "correct indenting, beautiful multi-page layout with embedded figures, multicolumn text flow, pretty typesetting, etc" because it is just a simple matter of applying a document class to the my .tex file.

            See my response to your first assertion. You are incorrect. Scientists are not publishers, and lack the training and interest. Also, how is the author supposed to know how his or her article fits into the journal? Do you just assume that every article starts with a full page, and waste a lot of space? There are so many problems with this idea it's not even worth contemplating.

            Authors do not do the typesetting. They produce an article structure, set up by defining sections, subsections, figures, etc, and then a simple FREE program does it all for them. You seem to be in denial because your job depends entirely on the luditry of members of the non-technical sciences...
          • "In the biological sciences (where I work), as well as the chemical and ecological sciences (in which I have close colleagues), you are completely incorrect. "

            I'm a cross disciplinarian. So I publish in computer science (where camera ready is 95% the rule) and biology (where it is not).

            "Preparing a paper for print requires professionals that have training and experience at their jobs. Someday you should take a look at a pile of grant applications, which tend to represent the best writing most scientists c
          • "Trust me, scientists cannot format a paper for publishing, don't want to, and shouldn't be required to."

            I don't know what "scientists" you've been talking to, you have a wierd view of it all works. I'm a chemist. I've worked in Physics, Physical Biochem, and Physical Chem, all research positions. In all three of those cases, LaTeX was the standard, from formatting your own dissertation to journal submissions.

            "Also, how is the author supposed to know how his or her article fits into the journal?"

            Um
      • "A major journal will receive ten times more papers than it can publish."
        and
        "Peer reviewers and authors are not paid. This gives them little incentive to do things either on time or in the way they are asked. Someone has to nicely chase them and organise them and help them.

        Please, make your mind! Do you get too many articles and have to employ extra people to read them all, or too few articles and employ extra people to "chase the authors nicely"?
      • All the services you mention do cost money, but are mostly irrelevant from the point of view of the academic user community. The vast majority of academic users would be content with a 'working paper' level editing/formatting (i.e. by the authors, spelling and grammar warts and all) as long as the work is peer-reviewed.

        I do suspect that for some journals, possibly the NEJM and other medical journals, the intended audience is not purely academic, and therefore prefers nicely-formatted articles with correct
  • by VeryProfessional ( 805174 ) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @02:24AM (#12231200)

    The idea of paying for publication in journals is ethically questionable. But then, so is accepting money in return for advertising. And, in computer science at least, most publications first appear in peer-reviewed conferences in which attendance at the conference (generally very expensive) is a condition of publication. Which basically amounts to paying to have your work published.

    The basic problem is, of course, that mixing money with the lofty ideals of purely merit-based peer-reviewed scientific publication will always lead to adulteration of the principle. Money is, after all, rarely given away without some sort of agenda (legitimate or otherwise).

    But, until a better solution is implemented (I'm not holding my breath) I don't see paying to get your work published as being any more pernicious that the other models currently in place. Ultimately, the scientific community will judge these journals by the quality of the work they publish. Given this, it is in their interests to keep the quality high. Nobody wants to be published in some two-bit, poorly regarded journal.

    • In terms of the ethics of pay-to-publish and the possible dilution of scientific credibility, it is important to realize a couple of things:

      1. PLoS is dedicated to being a highly respectable scientific journal of the same stature as the "biggies" such as Nature or Cell. Their review process is just as stringent, and their reviewers are scientists of equally high reputation, as other journals. (I'm getting this both from their "core principles" at http://www.plos.org/about/principles.html [plos.org] and also from
    • And, in computer science at least, most publications first appear in peer-reviewed conferences in which attendance at the conference (generally very expensive) is a condition of publication. Which basically amounts to paying to have your work published.

      I have always viewed that mandatory conference attendance is because otherwise the conference wouldn't work; if no-one turns up to present then there is no conference, so they have to make sure they will have enough presenters. So if you submit a paper, yo

  • by digitalextremist ( 818027 ) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @02:25AM (#12231210) Homepage
    how long until colleges are just "places people are learning" and no longer "monopolies of what people are learning", and the internet provides the subject matter?
    • by guet ( 525509 ) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @04:37AM (#12231548)
      I lerned evarytin I no on the internets.

      Joking apart, although the internet will change the economics of Universities (perhaps more will operate on the model of the Open University in the UK), there will always be a place for qualifications certified by respected authorities in a domain and vetted, well edited, material to go with it.
  • by CowbertPrime ( 206514 ) <(ten.y2.trebwoc) (ta) (oomris)> on Thursday April 14, 2005 @02:32AM (#12231237) Homepage
    "Traditional" academic journals actually get very little money from commercial advertising. Many specialized field journals have been using "pay for play" models well before the Internet came along. With these journals, such as the Journal of Immunology, each article usually bears the following disclaimer:

    The cost of publication of this article were defrayed in part by the payment of page charges. This article must therefore be hereby marked "advertisement" in accordance with 18 U.S.C. Section 1734 solely to indicate this fact.

    I have been through the manuscript submission process and you have to pay big bucks once your paper is accepted for publication: $200 per article if you have supplemental information (material that doesn't fit in the manuscript but still published), $70 per printed page, and $325 per color figure for printing a Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences [pnas.org] article. If you want to allow your article on Open Access, you'll need to pony up another $750-$1000 dollars.
    • If you look at those costs, and look at the labor involved in publication, that's quite low and very reasonable. I've done a number of reports published by my company (as a technical lead), and even after all the technical work is done, there is a lot of editing, layout, image prep, and more that is done before it goes out. The people who do that typically cost much less than technical people, but much more than grad students. Most of them are skilled graphics people, editors (who read and write english
  • Credibility (Score:3, Insightful)

    by katana ( 122232 ) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @02:33AM (#12231240) Homepage
    It's dumb to focus on the ethics when there is a more basic issue at stake. Writers who publish with vanity presses, for the most part, do not command the same respect and credibility as authors who publish with established journals and presses, unless the authors *already* have credibility.

    The vanity-press (pay-to-publish) approach will simultaneously make journals *and* authors less credible. At the same time, it provides a way to silence new voices by providing an additional barrier to scientific publishing for graduate students and junior faculty.
    • Re:Credibility (Score:3, Interesting)

      by DoctoRoR ( 865873 ) *

      How you pay for editing, formatting, printing, and distribution is a separate issue from how you establish credibility. Credibility, IMHO, is created through reputable peer review and editorial standards. Credibility can be helped by forcing a mind-shift among the scientific community, so that the respected researchers both submit to and peer review open access journals. Mandating that scientists submit to open access journals, as a prerequisite of government grants, is a great way to bootstrap this shift.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 14, 2005 @02:33AM (#12231241)
    Let me know when Phys. Rev. Letters. or Nature or other journals that everybody reads and really matter are free.

    There are too many scientific journals out there, nobody can read them all.

    Myself I am a theoretical physicist who is also interested in population genetics (about 70% of my papers are published in physics journals and 30% in genetics and mathematical biology journals). I follow regularly the following journals:

    1) Phys Rev Letters
    2) Phys Rev E
    3) Journal of Mathematical Physics
    4) Journal of Chemical Physics
    5) Physica A (Elsevier)
    6) Physics Letters A (Elsevier)
    7) Journal of Mathematical Biology (Springer)
    8) Mathematical Biosciences
    9) Journal of Theoretical Biology
    10)Theoretical Population Biology
    11)Genetics
    12)Science
    13)Nature

    None of these journals are free and probably never be. Thirteen journals is WAY TOO MUCH for me, I already spend a lot of time browsing and reading literature, I use 25-30% of my time for that, I need the rest of time for real research and direct interaction with other scientists.
    • As all good active physicists know, nobody reads the real journals, everyone reads www.arxiv.org.he real journals, everyone reads www.arxiv.org.

      If you wait for the preprints to appear in the real journals, your physics career will be tanked in no time...
  • by ta bu shi da yu ( 687699 ) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @02:36AM (#12231250) Homepage
    One of the problems that Wikipedia has is accessing information. To write a thorough entry, quite a bit of research must be done. If you don't go to a University that has paid for access, it's often impossible to research a particular field. With open journals, this would assist in writing thoroughly researched articles.
    • by jesterzog ( 189797 ) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @03:59AM (#12231465) Homepage Journal

      To write a thorough entry, quite a bit of research must be done.

      One of the important things about research, though, is that you really need to cite where you get information from. (Proper research, anyway.)

      Someone can correct me if I'm wrong, but the last time I checked I don't believe that Wikipedia had any formal way to cite sources -- at least not one that anyone's seriously using if it's there. There are plenty of indirect and informal methods, such as the External Links sections that might sometimes indirectly imply that information was gathered from them, but this isn't proper or reliable citing.

      I do use Wikipedia a lot and I've written several articles for it, but this is one thing I still think it seriously needs. Once it has a mechanism like this and it's straightforward to use, I'll feel much better about it.

  • by kkumer ( 36175 ) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @02:44AM (#12231285) Homepage

    At PLOS Medicine and PLOS Biology, for example, authors pay $1,500 each [...]

    Paying such money to publish your research? This is just outrageous. Why don't these people just set up online preprint archive, free of charge, available to anyone, like high-energy physicists did [arxiv.org] in the early '90. Now, 15 years later, this archive is practicaly the only "journal" that active high-energy physicists read. You should use taxpayers money for research and not for paying rediculous sums to some publishers, who will then disseminate your results far worse than a free web service.
    • Some sort of page charges are actually quite common and have been arround forever.

      Most researchers just include publication costs as a line in a grant budget. It is just assumed. The same goes for the huge chunk (often ~50%) of your grant money taken by the university to pay for keeping the lights on and elevators running in the research labs.
    • by Tingulli 3 ( 783332 ) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @03:19AM (#12231370) Homepage
      Well, I am an astrophysicist working outside the US, so I'll throw in some thoughts: 1) The preprint server arxiv.org is fundamental but still there is no peer review on papers. I can cite you more [arxiv.org] than [arxiv.org] one utterly ridiculous paper on astro-ph and gr-qc lists. So use it with care 2) Astrophysical journal IS charging non-US researcher with costs on a per-page basis. So I think that the PLOS politic is more than acceptable. 3) The copyright agreements traditional journals ask you to sign are as offending as a Microsoft EULA So, in the end, I think the "author pays, everybody has access" approach seems to work pretty well, If we have to pay in some way for peer review and proofs correction.
    • The money goes to pay the editors who choose which articles to send out for peer review, and who organize the review process. Those folks work very hard, and they won't work for free.

      And you shouldn't think of it as paying to publish -- because, as you say, the Web means that you can now publish your own work for next to nothing. What you are paying for is the mark of approval: you're buying the right to claim that a journal editor and at least two or three of your peers have scrutinized your work and pron
      • Right, but what about the one that fall through the cracks? I imagine that only a few really revolutionary things get rejected from journals (although there are historical accounts of some fairly major ones), but it's often useful to read papers which say `we tried this, and it didn't work very well,' something that rarely makes it into journals.

        I would like to see a central archive where:

        1. Anyone can submit a paper.
        2. Papers can be rated by anyone with one or more publications in a related field.
        3. Ratings ar
    • With peer review and intensive copy editing, there's often a fairly large difference between the initial pre-print submitted and the final research paper (at least if you're submitting to a worthwhile journal).

      From http://www.plos.org/faq.html [plos.org]

      Why should I have to pay to publish my paper?

      It costs money to produce a peer-reviewed, edited, and formatted article that is ready for online publication, and to host it on a server that is accessible around the clock. Prior to that, a public or private funding
  • by kilraid ( 645166 ) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @02:49AM (#12231301)

    The advertising is, by far, not the biggest ethical problem, but that the articles remain copyright of the publisher and a traditional publisher typically will not give out copies of the article for free. So if you are not part of an institution that subscribes to the article, it can be quite costly for you to gain access to an article. Sure, you can find it on Google or Pubmed, but you cannot read it unless you pay.

    This is not a good thing - if you don't have the money or are not part of an institution, you can't access information. And this just because the publisher wants to make a buck. Information should be free if the party who generated it wish so.

    The problem that the open access journals face today is that of credibility. My boss doesn't want me to publish in an open access journal because that would not, in his opinion, be as good a credit for the group as would be publishing in a respected journal. It is not yet widely understood that easy access to an article correlates positively with publicity. When I do my reading, I do not care at all in which journal the article appeared. But the fact is that there are still people who do.

    • Well, you can still visit a public university and use their library even if you aren't part of the institution. Many private univerity librarys as well (though the access is usually inferior.)
    • When I do my reading, I do not care at all in which journal the article appeared

      Are you kidding?

      At least in physics it is quite evident that some journals publish articles with much more impact, longevity and generality than some others. The history of the group/institution and the journal where the article is published are indeed indications of quality of the work. Is it fair? Maybe not, but life in general isn't fair.

      Personally, I would not cite an article that has been published in an open access j

      • Personally, I would not cite an article that has been published in an open access journal until they gain more respectability and history (primarily so that I can better judge how stringent their peer-review process is).

        Interesting. I just went and took a look at the editorial board, and who was publishing in an electronic journal, and decided that it looked reasonable. Perhaps physics is a much bigger field than the corner of math/CS I work in, and that kind of "web of trust" approach is not possible.

  • IEEE (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Often I think it would be nice for IEEE to grant free access to their archives. So many times I need to refer to a paper but have to wait until one of my Universities 15 seats opens up.
  • by sfcat ( 872532 ) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @02:54AM (#12231316)
    So it should be available for free/cheap. The money is there for quality assurance. Given the poor quality of many papers (including randomly generated ones), it is necessary to peer review papers. But other profs should be doing this in exchange for reviews of their own papers. So there is a tradeoff between quality of peer reviews and cost (just like most goods). But the work in the journels is generally paid for by public funds so it seems wrong to have to pay for these papers. In addition, there isn't much incentive to peer review papers because of the publish or perish rule of academia. Maybe there should be some kind of requirement that you must review three papers for each one you submit (so each paper is reviewed by three people). But I have a problem paying for something my tax dollar already paid for.
  • by NimNar ( 744239 ) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @03:17AM (#12231364)
    Currently the vast majority of academic journals are controlled by a cartel of a few publishers, which thrive by charging very high prices to research libraries (thousands of dollars a year for subscriptions to a few hundred journal pages)--for example, Kluwer [kluweronline.com] alone controls hundreds of journals. These same publishers enjoy the cooperation of the best scientists who edit and peer-review the journals without any compensation for their many hours of work.

    Preeminent scientific journals are essentially brand names (think "Nike" or "Adidas") and other than marketing cache offer nothing to the scientific community.

    The situation is unbearable especially in poorer countries where research libraries cannot afford the subscription prices to the best journals. My university is now in the process of difficult subscription cuts due to a lack of library budget.

    All that is need for "open access" journals is the cooperation of the leaders of the scientific community for the benefit of all.

    The inevitable replacement of current journals by "open-access" journals is the legacy of open source in general. It's very interesting to see the influence of open-source ideas in areas outside of software development.
    • by 3th3rn3t ( 245106 ) <ethernet@nOSPaM.epimp.com> on Thursday April 14, 2005 @05:29AM (#12231668) Homepage
      The situation is unbearable especially in poorer countries where research libraries cannot afford the subscription prices to the best journals. My university is now in the process of difficult subscription cuts due to a lack of library budget.

      Not to mention that some articles in particular are not even accessible using the library subscription. I have been actively involved in the academia for two years or so, and i have come acros a number of highly-ranked articles (ie. Nature or Elsevier) that i cant access even by using my library subscription but was asked to actually purchase the article.

      I tend to agree up to a certain degree with your opinion on branding of scientific journals. Different journals however actually propose different standards and their names are usually supplied in order to assess the quality of one's work. For example publishing in an IEEE or an Oxford Press Bioinformatics journal is not the same as publishing in an IASTED one etc. I am not necessarily saying this is a right thing but people who publish tend to try to publish in journals (or conferences for that matter) that are considered as higher ranking.

      Thankfully. the field of Bioinformatics and Medicine is more 'open' that other fields i have encountered. Most articles are available without a subscription on major biomedical databases such as MedLINE etc. I do tend to believe that the only way to 'solve' this problem is by giving the authors the ability to control their work even after it has been published. An author should be able to specify is his work will be available for free from the publishers site or not.
  • The section that lists computer science related journals is very strong. There's 48 of them, as opposed to Construction (only 4), Chemical Tech (only 2) et cetera.
  • by astrophysics ( 85561 ) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @03:29AM (#12231399)
    In many fields (Astronomy, Physics, Math) it is standard practice for authors to pay page charges (often about $100 per page) to publish their articles. (Of course, in these fields most journals don't have any advertisements.) I see nothing unethical about it.

    The obvious question is why should an author pay to print the article when they can post a pdf on their website or an online archive (such as arxiv.org). The answer is that scientists are judged (i.e., hired, tenured, promoted, etc.) based on their refereed publications. Posting the same things on your website will get you only a small fraction of the "credit". There are some exceptions (e.g., if you make a particularly important discovery), but from the scientist's point of view, why risk it? It's much safer to pay the ~$1000 page charges.

    Personally, I wish that departments would recognize how much money could be saved if they were to stop using refereed publications as the primary criteria for judging their members.
    • Personally, I wish that departments would recognize how much money could be saved if they were to stop using refereed publications as the primary criteria for judging their members.

      But what do you suggest as a replacement? As soon as a promotion/tenure process leaves the department and proceeds up through the university, the people involved are unable to accurately judge the worth of the research involved (that is charitably assuming they don't just prefer counting publications because it's easy).

      Ev

  • by SimianOverlord ( 727643 ) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @03:38AM (#12231422) Homepage Journal
    I applaud the ideas behind setting up these journals, but until scientists really want to be published in them, when their impact factor increases, they won't be successful or well respected within the scientific community. For now, they're going to struggle against the perception that they are a poor quality sort of plan b that you turn to when your paper isn't accepted by more prestigious journals. (Impact factor is a complicated mathematical measurement used by science employers to measure how well their emplyees are doing. It works a bit like Googles page rank the overall score depends on how many other people cite your work in the references at the end of theirs. Obviously, the greater the visibility of the journal, the more people read and the more likely they are to cite it.) Ironically, if journals like PloS are to be a success they really need other scientists reading them, rather than the public.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    In the computer graphics and visualization community conferences actually are the preferred way of publication. After the paper has been accepted by the program comitee (based on the reviews), the paper is then presented at the conference. While this could be considered as "paying for publication" (since at least one of the authors has to attend) it has no influence on the quality of the published papers. As long as the reviewing standards are high enough, many people will attend the conference to see high-
  • by FleaPlus ( 6935 ) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @04:07AM (#12231480) Journal
    From the PLoS FAQ [plos.org]:

    What if I can't afford publication charges?

    We realize that not everyone who does research can afford to pay publication charges through their grants. PLoS waives those fees, no questions asked, for anyone who can't pay. Our editors and peer reviewers have no knowledge of who can pay, so papers are accepted only on their merit. Authors may also qualify for discounts on publication charges via their institution or a funded program; see our institutional members page for more information.
  • by P!Alexander ( 448903 ) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @04:19AM (#12231506)
    I've been involved with an undergraduate journal at California State University, Monterey Bay [csumb.edu] for the past couple of years. Just this year we opted to go with an open source journal management system developed and supported by the Public Knowledge Project Open Journal Systems [pkp.ubc.ca] at the University of British Columbia [www.ubc.ca]. We're quite happy with it, both from a technical standpoint and the mission of the project. ePrints [eprints.org] is another project working on similar issues.

    Hopefully we will see more open access (without requiring payment from authors OR readers!) as libraries and other institutions start to use these great open source tools. It makes management and online publication/archiving really painless. There's even a distributed backup system [stanford.edu] in place and a group running archiving standards [openarchives.org].

    As a member of the American Anthropological Association I understand that the journals they publish are supported through subscriber costs which far outweigh the cost of publication. The remaining profit goes to funding the annual conference, administration costs for the association, etc. They have recently made all of the American Anthropologist journals available to members online, a pretty massive project I'm sure.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 14, 2005 @05:11AM (#12231635)
    I work for one of the largest scientific publishers, yup we have over 1000 academic journals, and as ever the story is not as simple as it might seem at first.

    We are not simply robber barons that leech profit off the back of the honest hard working scientist. I think one ought to understand that we truly believe that we can offer services that are worth the costs, and that we help to increase the base value of scientific literature.

    The publishing model that is currently in place has been around for a long time. I.e. where scientists submit for publication in a peer reviewed journal, the running costs of which are boune by a publishing house. In some cases this model has been around for over 150 years. Instant access via the internet is still a young technology in comparison. As publishers we know things are going to change redically, but naturally we take a conservative view. Free open source publishing is an attractive idea, but it has to generate revenue in order to cover maintencece costs. While the curret closed source system continues to generate revenue, since histroically this is the model we as publihsers know how to work with, it is a model that will stay around.

    What is it that we can offer?

    Well, the main thing is publishing of scientific content. Yes, for some people making their own servers and files is a snip, but most scientists are far too busy chasing funding money (which is where ultimatly most of the publication costs are coverd from), doing research, teaching classes. It simply does not make sense for scientists to be publihsers too. Their time is more valuable when spent doing science!

    We offer secure archiving, back compatability (making pre-digital issues available to the community), we offer distribution, help with language conversion, we offer content in a form that allows people to data mine the papers.

    The poeple I work with love science, I love talking to scientists about their work. Bringing a book into the world is kind of cool too. High costs are due to low unit sales, thats just the econimics of the thing.

    The principle goal of a publisher is, of course, to turn a profit, but to do so whilst offering a service. We believe in what we do.

    There are many many other issues to think about too, the low number of papers that get cited, data glut and the role a publisher can play in helping to provide meta-sorting/pre-screening. Quality control/peer review, etc, etc .

    Anyhoo, I got to get back to making books!
    • Please. You get scientists to do all the peer reviewing for FREE(!), they write the papers according to your guidelines for FREE, and everything else. You just make a high quality print outs and charge $10,000/year for a quarterly publication. Your days are numbered. Scientists aren't fools, and are major cheap-asses compared to PHBs.
    • by dr. loser ( 238229 ) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @10:02AM (#12233213)
      Maybe you can answer this:

      Why the cost disparity between for-profit publishers and professional society journals? I don't mean the page charges so much as the subscription costs. For example, the APS, AIP, and ACS are nonprofit, have author page charges that aren't too bad, and charge some not crazy amount to universities for subscriptions that include online access to archived content. Elsevier has higher page charges and extortionate subscription charges to universities and libraries.

      Given that publishers like Elsevier provide similar services, and if anything should have bigger economies of scale because they publish more journals, I am forced to conclude that Elsevier's higher prices are a result of trying to maximize profits. This is fine from the perspective of capitalism, but given the choice of supporting nonprofit professional societies vs. lining the pockets of Elsevier's shareholders, I know which way I want to go.
  • by kabrakan ( 13409 ) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @05:12AM (#12231638) Homepage
    There are plenty of journal articles and articles from conferences and other sources available on the web. I just wrote a paper on text summarization using sources I only found through google.. Mainly because going through my school's journal databases is too much of a hassle.
    • ...using sources I only found through google...

      By any measure, this isn't academic rigor. Your paper may be very good, but I hope you don't mean to imply that research professors should give up on citing journals.
  • I'm a little surprised that the submitter mentioned academic journals accepting advertisements. I know some fairly "high-end" magazine like "Foreign Affairs" do, but I know that the journal "International Security" does not - never has, most likely never will. Is International Security unique in this?
  • Open Access (Score:5, Interesting)

    by justforaday ( 560408 ) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @09:07AM (#12232654)
    I attended a seminar just yesterday presented by Allen Press on Open Access. Presentations were given by the EIC of PLoS Computational Biology, the director of the American Society for Cell Biology, the CTO of the Nature Publishing Group, as well as respresentatives from Google Scholar, CrossRef, the Association of Learned and Professional Society of Publishers, and people from various university libraries.

    Overall, everyone agrees that the move to Open Access is a good idea and that information (especially scientific information) wants to and needs to be free. However, the primary concern still lies in resolving and adapting the publishing models that are employed. Several case studies were given of organizations who have moved to open access in the past several years. Their subscriptions have dropped a little over the past few years, but their page views and number of articles downloaded have skyrocketed. However, they admit that there isn't enough data to determine whether their current model has any long-term viability and sustainability. Interestingly, the keynote presented some data from several studies indicating that many of the fully open access journals out there tend to be more amateurish at this stage (far less peer-review, very high acceptance rate for submitted papers, very low/negligible impact factor/rank, less copyediting, etc), while mixed model or embargoed OA journals have retained their relevence in the scientific community.

    And for those of you out there saying that there's little or nothing involved in the publishing of a scientific journal, you simply don't get it! I work for a medical publication that is run by 3 people (the exec dir/publisher, copy editor, and me, the editorial assistant). None of us are paid particularly well. However, our publication that gets out to 20,000 people still costs nearly 1/3 of a million dollars a year to publish. I agree that there are several large publishers out there who are milking everything they can out of subscribers, but for smaller publishers, the move to full open access will end up killing many of them.
    • I work for a medical publication that is run by 3 people (the exec dir/publisher, copy editor, and me, the editorial assistant). None of us are paid particularly well. However, our publication that gets out to 20,000 people still costs nearly 1/3 of a million dollars a year to publish.

      Hmmm... 300,000 divided by 20,000...

      So you're saying that if you charged $20 a person a year as a subscription fee, you'd make money? Hell, even somebody on an associate professor's salary can afford that!

      If you can relia
  • by perrin5 ( 38802 ) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @09:12AM (#12232712) Homepage
    ALL THE FREAKING TIME, I would like to say that this is a very useful tool, but hardly more than a new business model.

    No researcher I know goes about their searches by saying "which journal has free access"? Instead, we search web of science, or pubmed, and then try to gain access to the articles one by one. There are so many journals out there, that even with the clearinghouses mentioned below (elsever, etc), there are a multitude of smaller journals that my library cannot afford to allow me electronic access to.

    I would LOVE for this not to be the case. But I don't see how it can without putting the companies out of business, or making this a backdoor government funded access (note that the majority of publishing costs are paid from grants, which are usually granted by a federal agency), not that this is much different from my library paying for access to them, except with the library system, more people get access, most likely for more money.

    Not much to say here, just pointing out that it's never simple.

New York... when civilization falls apart, remember, we were way ahead of you. - David Letterman

Working...