The House of Commons (U.K.) Select Committee on Science and Technology investigated Open Access publishing alternatives, and pursuant to this obtained written evidence from Nature Publishing Group consisting of answers to specific questions about “pay to publish.” Here are excerpts from the document. Given the current discussion on Open Access publishing, this may be of interest to you.
Nature Publishing Group’s Publishing Model: Evidence to the House of Commons, April 2004.
Question: You stated that, under a pay-to-publish system, Nature would have to charge authors between £10K and £30k per article. Can you supply a breakdown of the costs that would necessitate this charge?
The £30,000 figure was arrived at simply by dividing the annual income of Nature (£30 million) by the number of research papers published (1,000). This assumes that author fees would be the only source of revenue (ie. a totally open access model).
The £10,000 figure is derived from estimates of the costs of selecting, reviewing, editing, designing and producing the research article element of Nature and the amount NPG would need to charge in order to cover these expenses adequately…
The reason for these high costs is the high investment Nature is obliged to make in the selection process, including de-selecting over 90% of the papers received. At present, Nature receives more than 10,000 papers per annum through its open submission policy.
Question: What proportion of the average article cost is taken up with peer review? Can you supply a breakdown of the costs of peer review?
Unlike many other journals where peer review is a distinct and sometimes external process, Nature does not use external academic editors, or have an external editorial board. Internally, it has a large number of highly qualified, experienced, professional editors as well as supporting administration staff who manage the peer review process. However, the actual reviewers used are professional scientists who are carefully selected by Nature’s internal editors. The staff cost for this activity represents 43% of the total cost for the creation of peer reviewed content for Nature….
Question: What provision do you make for teaching staff to reproduce material you have published as part of undergraduate and postgraduate student packs and courses?
All NPG authors of original research retain their copyright (they provide NPG with a “licence to publish”). As copyright holders, they, and any academic institution where they work at the time, may reproduce the authors’ contribution for the purpose of course teaching. Thereafter, use of copyright materials in the U.K. is subject to copyright law and fair dealing (‘fair use’ in the US), which provides exceptions for the “non-commercial” reproduction of selected articles for teaching and private study.
I just reproduced the snippits that I thought were particularly interesting. The rest of the official document can be found at the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Here.