Paying to Publish

Foreign currency and coins by Philip Brewer

There has been some recent discussion on one of the lists I subscribe to about certain publishers doubling site licenses for 2011. That’s right, publishers are still increasing prices at a rate libraries can’t afford to pay, surprise surprise.

However, it does seem that some academics are becoming aware of the fact that publishers are continuing to make large amounts of money while libraries struggle and academics give their work away for free. In a discussion after a talk I gave last week, researchers noted that you could “do the math”. Libraries are still paying the same (or increasing) site licence fees, and if it costs $3000 for an author to make an article OA, and without the paid for OA option publishers would only be getting extra money from individuals wanting to buy/ view the article at $30 a pop (this researcher was a realist and noted that it wasn’t likely that the average paper would get 100 individual downloads) then publishers are making MORE money with the new pay for OA options. Something seems wrong here, don’t you think? But as I pointed out, publishers are looking for profits, so of course they would take advantage of a changing system if they can.

So it seems the cost of paying for open access from traditional journals is starting to hit home…one researcher even suggested that perhaps they should only pay for their best work to be open access, as it might not be worth it to pay for every article to be OA. (Sad that authors are already coming to this conclusion). I of course could only suggest the alternative that they put things in repositories instead of paying for OA, though for some reason academics still don’t seem to be convinced about repositories. I am not sure if it is just a lack of knowledge or if they are fearful of repositories in general, but something needs to bring repositories to the forefront.

At least there is some awareness that money is and continues to be one of the big issues, perhaps the connection with money will soon force academics to make choices and change their behaviour (if they are forced to use their money (their funding) to pay, they might decide repositories are the way to go). But there is no denying it, money makes the world go round, and the cost of making publications open access continues to be a concern.

Image credit: Philip Brewer


About Willow Fuchs
Willow is based at the Centre for Research Communications at the University of Nottingham, where she works as an Open Access Adviser on the NECOBELAC and OpenAIRE projects. She has previously worked on the JISC funded Repositories Support Project and JISC funded Research Communications Strategy project.

2 Responses to Paying to Publish

  1. Chris Rusbridge says:

    My feeling is that the “pay per use” price point is set to discourage that route, rather than to make money. It’s real point is to encourage library subscriptions. Compare the “$38 for 24 hour access” approach to the general ebook price point of $9.99. They don’t want us to buy articles this way.

  2. The (only) way “to bring repositories to the forefront” is to mandate deposit.

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