Bill Hooker has taken Nature editor Maxine Clark to task for her claims about the open access status of the online features offered by the Nature Publishing Group. Maxine points to the various free online services offered by Nature — including Nature Precedings, Nature Reports, Nature Network, Scintilla, and the journal Molecular Systems Biology — in claiming that Nature has “many open access projects and products”. Bill disagrees. You should read his entire post, but the punchline is that Clark is redefining Open Access to fit Nature’s model and to be used as a marketing device.
A big issue with Open Access publishing is how to pay for the various services offered. The traditional model of scientific publishing earns money for the publisher via subscriptions (both private and institutional) and advertising. Additionally, some publishers require the authors to pay a publication fee. Open Access publishers must survive without subscription fees, but they do have publication fees for authors. One nice feature of the Public Library of Science (PLoS), is that they will waive the publication fee if you cannot afford to pay it — they are the only Open Access publisher with whom I have dealt, so I don’t know if this policy applies to other publishers. This comes in handy when you would like to publish an article in an Open Access journal, but lack the funds to pay the often hefty fee requested by the publisher (generally over $1000).
That’s where my story comes in. I am currently preparing a manuscript, and I’ve narrowed down the list of journals — to whom I’ll give the honor of rejecting my work as unsatisfactory — to three. All three journals offer Open Access options, but only one is entirely Open Access (it’s a PLoS journal). I’d like to submit my manuscript to the PLoS journal, but I know I won’t be able to afford the publication fee. Both of the other journals also have publication fees, which are they are less than the PLoS fees and will be waived if I cannot afford them (they offer Open Access options at comparable prices to the PLoS journal).
Regardless of where I send the manuscript for review, I will be asking for a fee waiver. One journal isn’t very friendly when it comes to waiving publication fees. The PLoS journal won’t give me any flack, but I feel bad asking for a second waiver from PLoS in the span of a single year — like I’m duping them out of their money. I like PLoS and what they stand for, so I don’t want to be hurting their cause by not paying my publication fees. I don’t feel so bad asking for the fee waiver from the other two journals (one is the journal for a society to which I belong and the other is published by an academic press), but I probably won’t be able to go Open Access with them because they are unlikely to waive both the publication fee and the Open Access fee.
Any ideas? I’m especially keen on hearing from people who serve as editors for Open Access journals, work for publishers who offer Open Access options, or submit their work to Open Access journals.