This week I wrote on MalariaWorld about the constant email spamming by publishers to submit our manuscripts to them. After receiving yet another invitation today, this time from HINDAWI publisher (who constantly nag me by the way) I started thinking about the future of Open Access. When we started the MalariaWorld Journal, we wanted a journal with a focus on malaria where you don't pay to publish and don't pay to read, which we termed Open Access 2.0. The reasons for this were outlined in my other article this week but here I want to take this a step further and ask a simple question...why should we scientists, who have worked hard to get grants, do the science, analyse the data, and write up manuscripts pay for our work to be published by a publisher that wants to make profits? So perhaps it is time for Open Access 3.0?
If I were to publish an article in our sister journal, the Malaria Journal, it would cost me USD 1865.
The journal justifies this by saying on their website 'Open access publishing is not without costs. BioMed Central defrays these costs through article-processing charges because it does not have subscription charges for its research content. The company instead believes that immediate, worldwide, barrier-free, open access to the full text of research articles is in the best interests of the scientific community.'
Sure enough, Open Access is indeed in the best interests of the scientific community. Apart from the payment of course, which has to come from research or library grants. I see many research proposals (for review) that now incorporate 'publication costs' as a line item in their budgets. So this means that funding agencies at the end of the day pay the Publisher. This is interesting...
What would happen then if the funding agencies would agree to authors budgeting publication costs but that these authors send their manuscripts to an Open Access 2.0 journal like the MalariaWorld Journal? That would free up these funds reserved to cover publication costs. Funds that can be be used to further research rather than become profits for regular Open Access publishers.
This begs the question how the MalariaWorld Journal is funded. Well, through a grant from the Dutch Scientific Organisation that gave us money last year to publish the next 90 articles in the journal. The cost for every accepted and published article is € 350, which is money used to cover the time by the Editors and the copy-editor.
Now, suppose a funding agency would put forward € 100.000 as a grant, for the next 100 articles in our journal. This would cost € 350 per article, but leave € 650. And that money could be used to pay the authors. Rigorous peer review would be maintained to ensure high quality, but this could mean that all your hard work at the end of the day would actually pay off (a bit) rather than cost you.
Is this a viable model? Why not, I would argue. The MalariaWorld Journal is in its 4th volume and not a single article has been paid for. If anything, that should be proof of viability.
Is the evolution of Open Access complete or will our current model of Open Access 2.0 take over? Or perhaps even Open Access 3.0?
What do you think?