Peter Suber reports the announcement of a new initiative by SAGE and Hindawi, starting a number of new Open Access journals. The platform will be unveiled in early December. They have decided not to switch their older, more established journals to OA yet.
This is really good news as SAGE is one of the largest scientific publishers, and certainly the largest so far to go from no-OA (not a single journal) to many-OA in one fell swoop. It is quite understandable that they decided to do it this way. From their business perspective, OA is still seen as risky. If brand new journals flop, it is not such a big deal. If old established journals go belly up in this experiment, that would be quite a disaster.
I expect that within 6-12 months they will see for themselves that OA does not hurt much (Hindawi makes profit, after all) and will likely choose to switch all of their established journals to Open Access. We’ll wait and see. But anyway, this is very encouraging.
Apart from my position as an OA evangelist, I have another motivation for this as well. Journal of Biological Rhythms is published by SAGE and is Closed Access for now. It is the journal of the Society for Research in Biological Rhythms of which I am a member and it is the best journal in the field. I have published two papers in it (the first I explained here and the second I explained twice, from two different perspectives, here and here) and I want to see it succeed. I can read the papers in it because I have the password and I also get the hardcopy in the mail. But lately I have been reluctant to write blog posts about the papers published in JBR because you, the reader, cannot check for yourself if I interpreted the study correctly. Sure, other chronobiologists read this blog and are likely to correct me if I get something wrong (for which I am grateful), but what if I disagree with them? Who are you going to believe, the chronobiologist A or chronobiologist B? And you cannot check for yourself without paying.
My reluctance to post about JBR papers also bothers me for a different reason – am I punishing my friends and colleagues for publishing in a closed access journal? I feel really conflicted about it because I want people to publish their best stuff in JBR (instead of in Science, Nature, Cell and Neuron, though I appreciate it if you choose one of PLoS journals instead) and I want their stuff to get attention via popularization so they get read more and thus cited more in the future. For this, JBR needs to go OA.
So, this move by SAGE gives me hope that my dilemma will be resolved pretty soon….