Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Greedy Publishers Love Open Access

In the "open access" model of scholarly journal publishing, articles are freely available online for anyone to read. Sounds great, right?

There's a problem, though. Where does the money come from to provide editorial staff and web hosting? Typically, it comes from fees charged to authors. This is nothing new - some scholarly journals have had "page charges" for years. Authors are charged a fee on the size of the article, and this fee is usually paid for by your university or your research grant, if you are luck enough to have one.

Print journals have traditionally waived page charges for authors with no grant or authors from third world countries. Unfortunately, some greedy publishers have not chosen to issue the same kinds of waivers for their open access journals.

Scholarly Research Exchange is one such greedy publisher. They recently sent me a solicitation to submit articles to their journal SRX Mathematics. When I asked the "journal publishing editor", Michael Fayez, what their waiver policy is, he replied "SRX Mathematics totally depends on those mandatory charges to run the journal. So, I regret to inform you that we cannot grant waivers." Considering that their fee is $400 per article, which is more than most people in 3rd world countries make in a year, their policy ensures that only papers from rich countries will be included. That's a shame.

I won't be submitting to this journal.


Unknown said...

Though SRE's rate does seems like a rip-off, if a publisher is to survive as a business they do need to have some sort of revenue.

Theory of Computing is a nice example of an all-volunteer journal. They probably still have small costs, to host their web site. Perhaps the editors have grant money for this. I like this route the best. However, it does depend on highly motivated team of editors to succeed.

Anonymous said...

Even more than first-world bias, I'd worry that this model would incentivize the publisher to subvert the editorial process in order to accept more papers and collect more money.