Cameron Neylon
In defence of author-pays business models -
There has been an awful lot recently written and said about author-pays business models for scholarly publishing and a lot of it has focussed on PLoS ONE. Most recently Kent Anderson has written a piece on Scholarly Kitchen that contains a number of fairly serious misconceptions about the processes of PLoS ONE. This is a shame because I feel this has muddled the much more interesting question that was intended to be the focus of his piece. Nonetheless here I want to give a robust defence of author pays models and of PLoS ONE in particular. - Cameron Neylon
This is very good. - Bill Hooker
quote: "The suggestion that my editorial decisions are influenced by the fact the authors will pay is, to be frank, offensive," - I couldnt agree more strongly, and the comments by Bjoern, Ramy (who, incidentally, received far from constructive responses to his thoughtful post) and Fanelli underline this fact. The Academic Editors (not the publisher) are in *sole* control of every decision that is made, and they have no insight whatsoever, or knowledge of, the payment behavior of the authors. To suggest any kind of pressure or commercial influence in this process is indeed an insult to every one of our 982 Academic Editors. - Peter Binfield
What I liked most is: "I see my role as providing a service." This is how I exactly perceive my role as an editor, reviewer, or even teacher. I don't teach to "fail the students" but to help them to pass "my exams." You can expand the analogy to editing: we're not just "gate keepers of the holy land of science, but rather people who help scientists make their papers better, using the help of other experts" - Ramy Karam Aziz
@Ramy - as do I. As a career professional publisher in PLoS (and one who has previously worked at the Institute of Physics Publishing, Kluwer Academic Publishers, Springer and most recently Sage Publications, running over 350 journals in total) I see my role as providing a valuable and professional service to academia, *for* academia, and based on the needs and desires of academics. - Peter Binfield
I also like/agree with: "In the light of the figures above it seems that 70% is a reasonable proportion of papers that are probably 'basically ok but might need some work'”. In fact, 70% is the statistically more reasonable proportion. Journals that accept 10% are those who only take "A+" papers and reject the rest. If quality follows a normal distribution curve (and there is no reason it shouldn't), then the sensible way is to allow the average +/- standard deviation number of papers to be published (after revision of course). Actually the 69% acceptance rate of PLoS ONE is awesome and maybe needs to increase up to 84%-- See: and - Ramy Karam Aziz
This whole discussion about 'quality' has brought up a new slogan for me: scientific discoveries are like orgasms: there are no bad ones! - Björn Brembs
@Ramy - I toned that line down a bit in fact it started off as "I see my role as providing a service, not handing out abuse" but I thought that might be a bit strong. Also realized that I made many of the same points you did in your comment - I saw your comment after I'd drafted the post but before I posted it. - Cameron Neylon
@Pete, it's actually bordering on libel, certainly I found it offensive. I really struggled not to make some comment along the lines of conflicts of interest for professional editors but I guess it remained implicit in me saying _I_ had no financial interest. Trying to avoid kneejerk reactions. - Cameron Neylon
+1 Dorothea I'd also like to thank Kent for renewing my interest to volunteer my time as an editor for PLoSONE. - Mr. Gunn
What annoys me most in the Scholarly Kitchen post is that after 3 days of debate, and after 4 PLoS ONE academic editors from different fields insisted that the peer review is rigorous and sometimes requires 3-4 rounds of revisions, Kent still says "charging authors for screening that creates no greater signal:noise ratio than picking papers out of a hat." This is becoming more like a political debate than a constructive scientific discussion, with a republican-like approach of repeating a false message over and over just to make it like a fact! - Ramy Karam Aziz
+1 Ramy. I have a comment pending that addresses the same issue -- "If you want to assert that [the PLoS ONE filter is] not working properly, that’s a different discussion that will require actual data systematically comparing the rate of publication of scientifically-invalid papers in PLoS ONE and a set of control journals. (I’d love to see that done!)" - Bill Hooker
Especially when 'pulling papers out of a hat' describes editorial review so exactly. I'm done commenting there. Kent is an incompetent ideologue and no arguments will ever convince him. An unpersuadable, like creationists. PZ had a great quote for these people: "Where scientists are often handicapped is that they don't recognized the depth of the denial on the other side, and that their opponents really are happily butting their heads against the rock hard foundation of the science. We tend to assume the creationists can't really be that stupid, and figure they must have some legitimate complaint about some aspect of evolution with which we can sympathize. They don't. They really are that nuts." - Björn Brembs
Great post Cameron. I particularly like the "If authors were forced to make a choice between the cost of publishing in these top journals versus putting that money back into their research they would choose the latter. If the customer actually had to make the choice to pay the true costs of publishing in these journals, they wouldn’t…". I think that we (bench scientists) sometimes do not factor in the costs of maintaining library subscriptions (which my grant overheads probably contribute to). It would be interesting to look at a couple of universities, look at the cost of publishing with OA costs (based on lets say last X years) would have been vs. actual publishing costs added to the costs incurred by libraries for maintaining subscriptions over the same number of years. I wonder what is actually 'cheaper'. - Kubke
Another thing that has been bugging me is, lets say (thanks to my magic want) that for an entire year Journal X contains 50% of OA articles (opted in by authors and paying the extra fees). Does the journal then reduce their subscription fees accordingly? Shouldn't they? Or are they double dipping? - Kubke
Double-dipping is happening, and it's an issue for institutions that have set up OA journal funds. Some OA journal funds will pay publication fees of hybrid journals, while others will not. For a blog post of mine about policies of OA journal funds, see: - Jim Till
Springer has said they will reduce the subscription cost according to the % OA. I believe another journal already did so, but I don't remember which one. - Christina Pikas
Nature Communications is committed to something along those lines I think. - Cameron Neylon from Android
See 'NPG details 2011 open access pricing policy' (March 16, 2010): - Jim Till
$5000 for OA option in NatureComm? - Egon Willighagen
The interesting thing is on the current evidence it actually looks pretty popular. So clearly there is a market for prestige publication. I keep meaning to have a look at the Nature Comms open option articles and see whether they are mainly away from the biosciences (where you can go to PLoS Biology for quite a lot less). Also be interesting to know what the submission path is for such papers. Are these rejected from other Nature journals? Rejected from PLoS Biol? Or direct submissions looking for rapid publication...? - Cameron Neylon
Response to Kent Anderson from Peter Binfield & Mark Patterson - Jim Till