JVP’s new open access fee

April 25, 2012

This arrived in my inbox last week, but I’ve been too busy to blog about it until now.

Not surprisingly, I have comments.

First, this is huge news. I am certain that Taylor & Francis, which otherwise have some of the most rapacious fees in the business, are not thrilled about taking a 38% fee cut, and that they are not doing it out of the goodness of their hearts or because they want to forge a better relationship with the vertebrate paleontology community (or whatever transparent folderol they put in their public statements). Bottom line, they’re a corporation, they have a legal mandate to maximize profits for shareholders. So there are only two plausible reasons why they might be dropping the OA publication fee so sharply for JVP: because they think they’ll make more money in the long run, or because the powers-that-be at the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology fought hard for the change. I think the first reason is a non-starter, for reasons I’ll explain below, which leaves heroism from within the Society as the hypothesis I can’t falsify. Good enough for now. SVP people who helped make this happen, whoever and wherever you are, you have my heartfelt thanks. Please don’t lose sight of that if you read the rest of the post.

Now for the not-so-good news. If you’re an author, you want your work to be read as widely as possible, so OA is in your best interests, period. There are OA journals that are free to publish in, like Paleodiversity, PalArch’s JVP, and Acta Palaeontological Polonica, and of course PLoS ONE gives waivers to authors who can’t pay their $1350/article publication fee. But let’s say that you have grant money or departmental funds to pay OA publication fees. Would you choose to pay $2000/article for OA publication in JVP? Let’s look at some criteria you might want to consider:

  • Article length: limited in JVP, unlimited in PLoS ONE.
  • Color figures: not free in JVP, free in PLoS ONE. [Note the correction below from Paul Barrett: colour figures are now free in JVP PDFs -- a charge is only made for printing colour.]
  • Impact factor: 2.241 for JVP (retrieved from here), 4.411 for PLoS ONE.
  • Rejection criteria: your work has to be scientifically sound and also pass some threshold of general interest or importance at JVP; at PLoS ONE it just has to be scientifically sound.
  • Publication speed: there is a lag-time between when your manuscript is accepted at JVP and when it is made public. Admittedly JVP moves pretty fast right now for paper journal, and you’re unlikely to wait more than 2 or 3 months. But PLoS ONE is faster still, posting your paper almost immediately after it’s accepted.

And of course the elephant in the room:

  • Cost: $2000 for OA publication in JVP, $1350 for PLoS ONE.

So, to sum up, if you send your paper to JVP it will have to be shorter and have fewer figures that will be in black and white unless you choose to pay extra for color reproduction, the selection criteria are more stringent but the impact factor is much lower (for now), and you’ll have to wait a bit longer–but at least you’ll get to pay half again as much for worse performance in all of these areas. That’s why this can’t be some kind of long-term strategy by Taylor & Francis to get more business–doing that requires undercutting your competitors, not overcharging and under-delivering. They’re practically driving potential authors towards PLoS with pitchforks and torches.

So, although I applaud the good folks in the Society for getting a concession this big from Taylor & Francis, the publisher’s service to us is still a joke, because it is so markedly inferior but costs so much more. It’s like completing a 50-yard pass in American football…from halfway back in your own end zone. Hell of a play, dude. Hell of a play. But you’re still on the wrong side of the field.

What next? Well, the good news is that the Society has been getting concessions from Taylor & Francis, so in the short term we should keep pushing for T&F to give us an OA option that is actually competitive. This is a step in the right direction, but it is just a step, and we are way behind the curve here.

In the long term, I think we should think very hard about the Society’s mission. The full version can be found here, but the central kernel is, “The object of the society is to advance the science of vertebrate paleontology.” Allowing a for-profit, barrier-based publisher to put our science behind a paywall in order to enrich its shareholders is simply not consistent with that object. It doesn’t advance the science, it hurts our authors, and it hurts the people who need access to our work but can’t afford it. We should demand better. We must demand better, if we are to be true to our mission.

Update

Note that Paul Barrett, one of the Senior Editors of JVP and Co-Chair of the SVP Publications Committee, explains below that the discount on OA fees was offered by Taylor and Francis rather than negotiated by the SVP as we assumed. Matt has asked for clarification on how this went down (once, twice), but Paul says that he can’t go further into the discussions about JVP’s negotiations as there are legal and commercial implications.

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47 Responses to “JVP’s new open access fee”

  1. Mike Taylor Says:

    I think that hits the nail on the head. As it happens, I read Framing Incremental Gains on the Library Loon blog earlier today, which is about gratefully accepting small steps even when you wish they’d been bigger. Although I agree that JVP’s open-access option is inferior to PLoS ONE in almost every respect, I do strongly agree that it’s great anyway that this has happened. It shows that wheels are turning, when I’d assumed that they’d rusted solid.


  2. Just curious as to the terms under which the article will be made freely available (gratis? or oa?)

  3. Matt Wedel Says:

    It’s OA, but frankly I am a bit clueless when it comes to the many forms of license and how they compare, so I am hoping Mike will jump in and add some clarity. Links to the relevant T&F pages: OA and copyright. Non-commercial display and use looks wide open, including text-mining and data-mining. Commercial use is prohibited.

  4. Paul Barrett Says:

    This is a gross misrepresentation of the current policies of JVP and the comparisons made with PLoS one are misleading. I have to state an interest here as one of the Senior Editors of JVP and Co-Chair of the SVP Publications Committee. Although this might bias some of my views (though I will try to be objective in my points below) it does at least mean I know what I’m talking about with respect to JVP policies and practices.

    1. Page length. JVP considers MSs that are up to 70 MS pp long, plus figures, tables, online data, etc. Longer MSs are also considered at the discretion of the editors. Really long papers can be considered as a Memoir proposal (and there are now no page charges for a Memoir or for JVP). With only one or two rare exceptions, the vast majority of the papers on VP published to date in PLoS One would not exceed JVP page limits. If a higher proportion of papers published in PLoS were of monographic length this would be a more acceptable criticism.

    2. Colour. JVP will publish an unlimited number of colour figures for free in the PDF version of the paper. Colour figures in print only incur a charge. Even in these cases the editors have the discretion to waive fees if the authors cannot pay the cost of figures that are deemed necessary in colour to allow adequate interpretation. As PLoS is essentially online only, in this respect the two journals are identical – as much colour as the author wants online for free (at least in terms of cost to the author, which was the point being made in the original post).

    3. Paper selection. The editors make no apology or having an interest/impact criterion. The journal aspires to publish good papers that will ultimately enhance the field, rather than papers that pass the PLoS criterion of being ‘OK’.

    4. Reasons for discount. Contrary to expectations it was actually the publisher that made the decision to offer the lower OA fee (I know as I was one of the people who negotiated the OA option) as a gesture towards one of their newer journals. T & F also, after some discussion, removed the pay wall from all JVP online supplementary data, something which few other journals do.

    5. Impact Factor and turnaround. On these points we lag behind as firstly we are a specialist journal whereas PLoS is a general one (I doubt that VP papers add much to PLoS’s IF) and secondly print journals by definition are slower to publish than online ones. One advantage of the latter is that we spend time proof-checking much more extensively than PLoS (we make many fewer mistakes in terms of reference citation for example, which means we serve authors of cited articles better in terms of their own impact – misprinted author names and article titles lead to a decrease in citations).

    6. Data transparency and ethics. JVP has new policies on mandatory publication of supporting data and SVP has an ethics statement on the requirements of science done under its remit (which includes standards affecting acceptance of papers in JVP). PLoS has neither commitment and so is arguably less interested in publishing reproducible and ethically sound papers than JVP.

    7. Other sevices. SVP actively promotes Featured Articles via its press team. In addition, JVP provides 50 free hard copy reprints of papers. Neither of these are offered by PLoS. Believe it or not, quite a few people like old fashioned reprints.

  5. Andy Farke Says:

    I agree with Paul on several points (his critiques of 1 & 2 are pretty fair, given that most PLoS ONE papers don’t take advantage of length criteria and that JVP *now* allows color for digital versions of the paper), but would like to clarify / address a few others. I am a volunteer editor and section editor for paleontology at PLoS ONE, so I *do* have a vested interest in the matter. Note, however, that what follows is my personal opinion rather than any official journal policy or statement. Numbers below follow those in Paul’s post.

    4) Re: paywalls for supplementary data, the majority of paleontology journals do *not* have one (see this spreadsheet for details; thankfully JVP has changed policies now, so I’ll need to update my data).

    5) Impact factor. For better or worse, many (if not most) of the paleontology papers in PLoS ONE are highly cited. I calculated the 2010 impact factor for PLoS ONE, using the articles listed in the journal’s Paleontology Collection and counting citations using Web of Science. I got a paleontology IF of 3.317 for PLoS ONE in 2010 (whole journal IF = 4.41), versus 2.241 in the same year for JVP. So, the IF drops a little bit when excluding the other articles, but not by much. (for whatever IF is worth – a handful of tangentially-paleo articles are in my count, but shouldn’t affect things much)

    6) Data transparency and ethics. The JVP policy is an excellent one, and I am happy to see it implemented. The comment that PLoS has less commitment to publishing reproducible and ethically sound papers is a bit spurious in my book (and a little offensive to me as an editor – I personally strive to uphold appropriate ethical standards on all of the papers I handle). I would first state that I have been working with the head office to clarify the guidelines over what is and isn’t acceptable in paleontology papers (which hopefully will end up quite close to JVP guidelines). This is in the pipeline, and should be finalized sooner rather than later. The advantage of JVP is that because it’s a smaller operation, it can move faster on these issues when it needs or wants to. (I would also note that the PLoS ONE journal guidelines in the end will be far more specific than for other general science journals like Science, Nature, or PNAS; and, PLoS ONE has a more comprehensive treatment of conflicts-of-interest, plagiarism, etc., than many field-specific journals). Guidelines are evolving for *all* journals as new situations arise – indeed, many articles in the recent past for JVP or PLoS ONE (e.g., 2008 or 2009!) wouldn’t pass muster today. If there is a weakness in the PLoS ONE system, it’s that which afflicts most general-interest journals – sometimes the editors are not familiar with all of the in’s and out’s of the field. Hence my work to tighten up loopholes. This is also to say that if there is something in the journal that looks wonky, let me know and I will try and get wheels turning to fix it (or prevent it from happening in the future).

  6. Paul Barrett Says:

    Thanks Andy. A couple of points on your points:

    You point about IF is well-taken, but note that the IF of VP papers is substantially (not a little) below that for PLoS as a whole. One impact factor point means the difference between best in field and the ‘other journals’ for many small subject areas. This means that VP papers are dragging down the PLoS IF at the moment. I would be interested to know the distribution of citations among the PLoS Palaeo collection and whether it is being skewed by a handful of v high impact papers. (As papers don’t have to have an ‘interest’ criterion at PLoS One is there a long tail of papers attracting fewer citations? Just curious).

    Regarding Point 6 I didn’t mean to cast aspersions on the character of PLoS ONE editors, apologies if it came across this way. My point, which still stands, is that JVP has policies as a safeguard to deal with those ethical and reproducibility issues that affect VP: PLoS does not, at least currently. And you are wrong to state that theses issues would all have affected JVP In the past – although this comment applies to the new policy on data archiving, the Ethics statement has been around for a while.

    Ironic that JVP is criticised above for being slower than PLoS when we can make important policy decisions much more quickly :-)

    Again out of interest, what percentage of articles in the Palaeo Collection of PLoS ONE have their OA fee paid by the authors?

  7. Richard Butler Says:

    Regardless of the advantages and disadvantages of the two journals, any difference in the open access fee between the two should probably take into account that JVP provides copyediting and page-proofing, which PLoS ONE provides only minimal copyediting and no proofs. I suspect that such services are not cheap, and that PLoS ONE are able to keep their OA fee comparatively low by largely dispensing with them.

    (Note: I recently became an editor at PLoS ONE and have published several papers there in the last year, but also continue to fairly regularly publish in JVP. I strongly support both journals).

  8. Mike Taylor Says:

    It’s interesting to watch Paul and Andy each defending their own journals :-) One important lesson here is that criticising someone’s journal is like insulting their mother — certain to cause offence, whether intended or not.

    Let’s address a couple of Paul’s points.

    First, #2, since it’s simplest: colour. Paul is of course correct, and I’ve amended the article accordingly. (I can only assume that the guidelines have changed on this since that last time Matt submitted to JVP — indeed they are still ambiguous, saying “Remove color depth from grey-scale images unless intending to pay for color printing” — worth tweaking that,. I think.)

    Back to #1, length limits. Matt’s original statement, “Article length: limited in JVP, unlimited in PLoS ONE” is still correct. JVP’s limit of 70 double-spaced 12-point manuscript pages is quite liberal (equivalent to about 21 printed pages) — certainly much better than many journals. But it’s still restrictive enough that, for example, the Brontomerus description would have exceeded it. I have other papers in the works that will greatly exceed the JVP limit. It is a benefit of PLoS ONE that that’s just not something I have to think about.

    On #3, slandering PLoS ONE’s selection criteria (“OK”) is not a good way of defending JVP’s. PLoS ONE peer-review is not a less selective inferior version of what JVP does, it’s fundamentally different — to the benefit of authors, I would argue. There can hardly be a more spirit-sapping waste of scientists time than schlepping the same perfectly good paper around multiple rounds of review at different journals until it finds a home that considers it sexy enough.

    On #5: as Paul says, the reason for JVP’s slower turnaround, or at least part of the reason, is because it’s a print journal. That’s the reason its inferior to PLoS ONE in this respect, but it doesn’t change the fact of it.

    Finally, since this seems to have turned into JVP-vs.-PLoS, I should mention one of the things I most like about PLoS, which hasn’t yet come up in this thread: the huge resolution of the online images. Figures like this one from Sereno et al. (2007) on the Nigersaurus skull are not just gorgeous, but scientifically informative. This is another area, like turnaround time, where PLoS wins by being online-only (although come to think of it there is no inherent reason why online-and-print journals like JVP should also host full-resolution illustrations in a lossless format.)

    Having said all that, I should mention that in fact I have published in JVP and not yet in PLoS ONE, so it obviously is attractive! The bottom line is the JVP is unquestionably the flagship journal of our discipline; acknowledging that doesn’t mean I overlook its deficiencies, but it remains true in spite of them.

  9. Paul Barrett Says:

    Is that because it’s free to authors to publish in JVP, whereas technically there is a charge to publishing in PLoS. ;-)

  10. Paul Barrett Says:

    In my Point 3 I am not attacking peer-reviewers, or editors, but PLoS policy on criteria to accept. My point about wanting to publish only the best of the available papers in a field still stands.

  11. Matt Wedel Says:

    This is a gross misrepresentation of the current policies of JVP and the comparisons made with PLoS one are misleading.

    Let’s see if either of those statements is true.

    1. Page length. JVP considers MSs that are up to 70 MS pp long, plus figures, tables, online data, etc. Longer MSs are also considered at the discretion of the editors. Really long papers can be considered as a Memoir proposal

    Yeah, a Memoir proposal. Is the acceptance rate higher or lower than for normal articles? I assume they still have to meet the same standards (at least, if not higher) of being interesting and important, so this devolves to Point 3. Just because few authors have yet taken advantage of the, let’s say, less cluttered road to publishing very long papers in PLoS ONE does not mean that it is not an advantage.

    2. Colour. JVP will publish an unlimited number of colour figures for free in the PDF version of the paper.

    Mea culpa. I was unaware of that, and I will amend the post accordingly.

    3. Paper selection. The editors make no apology for having an interest/impact criterion.

    Two things: I’m sorry if you took my comments in the post as a personal attack on the people who make JVP happen. In the original draft, I had a bit in at the end explicitly saying that it was intended as a criticism of Taylor & Francis and not the JVP staff, but I took it out because I thought it would be redundant.

    Second, what you say here is fine, but it means you’re basically declining to compete on this point.

    4. Reasons for discount. Contrary to expectations it was actually the publisher that made the decision to offer the lower OA fee (I know as I was one of the people who negotiated the OA option) as a gesture towards one of their newer journals.

    Well, I am shocked. Pleasantly shocked, and chagrined that I apparently got this so wrong, but shocked nonetheless. Still–I am curious about the negotiation of the OA option. The wording implies at least some back-and-forth between the Society and Taylor & Francis. Did you have to push at all to get the OA option in the first place (if so, please accept my compliments for that)? Was there really no discussion at all of the ridiculously high $3250 fee that Taylor & Francis normally charges, before they unlaterally offered a lower fee? If the answer to both of those questions is ‘No’, I’ll also amend the post on that point, but I’d like to know more about what happened before I do–if that information is something you can share.

    T & F also, after some discussion, removed the pay wall from all JVP online supplementary data, something which few other journals do.

    Right–originally that material was paywalled, and we asked them to remove it, and they did. That’s exactly what I was talking about in the post when I said that the Society has been getting concessions from Taylor & Francis. I also thought we’d gotten a concession on the OA fee, and it sounds like possibly we got a concession in getting an OA option at all. If Taylor & Francis really did all of this out of the goodness of their hearts, great. I’d rather live in a world where they’re better than I think and I’m more fallible than I thought; the latter problem is not fun but at least it’s something I can address on my own. But I am skeptical that all of these good things came about with no pressure from the Society at all.

    5. Impact Factor and turnaround. On these points we lag behind as firstly we are a specialist journal whereas PLoS is a general one (I doubt that VP papers add much to PLoS’s IF) and secondly print journals by definition are slower to publish than online ones.

    All true, but the explanations do not detract from PLoS ONE’s considerable advantages in these areas. No misrepresentation, nothing misleading.

    Andy’s already responded with respect to point 6, and I am happy to concede point 7.

    So, let’s get back to the two original charges, that I grossly misrepresented the policies of JVP and that the comparisons to PLoS ONE are misleading.

    On page length, it may be true that JVP considers Memoir proposals and that few authors to date have taken advantage of the lack of a length limit in PLoS ONE, but the road to publishing very long manuscripts is still more straightforward with PLoS ONE since there is no criterion for publication other sound science.

    On color, I was just wrong.

    On paper selection criteria, you concede.

    On the reasons for the discount, I would like to know more about the negotiations before I accept that the Society had no role in bringing about this change. Anyway, this was a criticism of Taylor & Francis, not JVP policies.

    On impact factor and turnaround, you concede.

    The supporting data and ethics statements are great, as are the reprints. I don’t think that failing to mention them counts as a gross mischaracterization or misleading. Not surprisingly, in writing the post I focused on some journal selection criteria as more important than others. If our perceptions of which criteria belong in the top half dozen differ, that’s fine, but it doesn’t invalidate my comparison.

    So, in sum, my errors were (1) being wrong about color figures, and (2) possibly giving the Society more credit than it deserves for the policy changes at Taylor & Francis. I don’t think that adds up to a “gross misrepresentation of the current policies of JVP”.

    Next item: “the comparisons made with PLoS one are misleading”. Why, because PLoS ONE is an online generalist journal and JVP is a specialist journal tied to paper? Do the two journals not compete, at least indirectly, for vert paleo papers? If so, then the comparison is apt. On three of the six criteria I mentioned in the article, you concede that PLoS is winning, and I assume you’d also admit that they’re winning on cost. If you would have chosen other criteria, like an ethics statement or free paper reprints, great, go write your own post. But how is any of this misleading? When it comes to OA publication, PLoS IS winning, and they’re winning primarily because none of the big commercial publishers are even trying to compete in terms of services versus price.

  12. Paul Barrett Says:

    And saying ‘Ok’ isn’t slander. If it were untrue, it would be libel. Acceptable is generally considered a synonym of OK, whereas excellent is not.

  13. Matt Wedel Says:

    Arf, my comment passed almost all the others in the ether.

  14. Matt Wedel Says:

    In my Point 3 I am not attacking peer-reviewers, or editors, but PLoS policy on criteria to accept. My point about wanting to publish only the best of the available papers in a field still stands.

    Right, but when you say “wanting to publish only the best of the available papers” you’re explicitly speaking as an editor–a gatekeeper–and in the post I was talking about advantages to authors. Now, the prestige associated with being published in the Society’s flagshiop journal is another kind of advantage, as is related recognition of the paper having been through a more stringent selection process. But at least some authors, some of the time, just want to let the science out with playing the prestige games.

  15. Paul Barrett Says:

    I’ve nothing to add to my earlier points: I stand by the fact that comparing IFs between general journals and specialist journals when only considering one subject areas is the same as comparing apples and oranges (ie misleadinging) and that with the rant about the publisher and the factual error about JVP means that I still regard the original piece as misleading as to how PLoS (in your view) is a superior place to publish. At face value there are pros and cons to both: PLoS has speed (and no limits for a small subset of the total number of papers in VP), OA (at a price), and the advantage of a general journal IF; JVP has a specialist audience, good production and transparent ethics policies, and is free to publish in for the author. Technically, PLoS isn’t free – you need to get a waiver to avoid the payment. Remember you’ve been talking about the author experience here, not the readers.

  16. Matt Wedel Says:

    PLoS has…OA (at a price). JVP…is free to publish in for the author.

    Yeah, but not free OA publication, which is explicitly what I was comparing (“Would you choose to pay $2000/article for OA publication in JVP?”).

    with the rant about the publisher and the factual error about JVP means that I still regard the original piece as misleading as to how PLoS (in your view) is a superior place to publish.

    Okay, the factual error has been admitted and fixed. I’d like to know more before I redact the rant about the publisher. Did Taylor & Francis offer the Society an OA option without being prompted, or did we have to ask for one, or did we have to push for one? And did they similarly offer the lower OA fee without being prompted, or did we ask if it could be lowered, or did we have to push, even gently, for it to be lowered?

  17. ucfagls Says:

    Seems this isn’t OA as defined by the Budapest Open Access Initiative as it restricts “use” to non-commercial: http://journalauthors.tandf.co.uk/preparation/OpenAccess.asp#link2 and Mike has been somewhat vociferous here about his objections to the muddying of the meaning of OA…

    Still this is a step in the right direction.

  18. Matt Wedel Says:

    comparing IFs between general journals and specialist journals when only considering one subject areas is the same as comparing apples and oranges (ie misleadinging)

    Well, wait. Most authors only work in one subject area, so of course that is all that they have to consider, but they still weigh the benefits of publishing in generalist and specialist journals, and IF is part of that decision. There’s a lot of auto-correlation here: all the high-impact journals are generalist journals. If we take this argument to its logical endpoint, maybe the paleo papers are dragging down the IF at Nature–but paleontologists still know that a publication in Nature counts for more than one in JVP. So if we’re going to talk about IFs at all–and there are good reasons why we should ditch them ASAP–let’s at least talk about them as authors actually use them, which is to gauge the relative prestige of journals, both generalist and specialist.

    We all know that IFs are a (silly, broken) shorthand for journal status, and we all realize that the work of earning the IF is not spread evenly across all the papers in a journal. Within JVP, there are probably some article categories that are cited more swiftly and more often than others. If, hypothetically, hellasaur papers get cited more than papers on hellerpetons, does that mean that hellerpeton workers shouldn’t be swayed by the 2.2 IF because the hellerpeton papers are actually dragging down the IF? Probably not, because they know that the high IF is also a short hand for visibility, and their hellerpeton papers benefit from being in a high-IF journal. Similarly, why should vert paleo authors care if vert paleo papers in PLoS ONE aren’t actually cited twice as much? The high IF is still valuable in other ways, because people imbue it with value (and, to reiterate, I think IFs are silly, inconsistent, and harmful, and we should ditch them).

    This brings up another point, which I had not previously considered. It IS misleading to compare the IFs, but not because one journal is generalist and one is specialist. Rather, it’s because I set out to compare OA publications, and whereas PLoS ONE’s IF is entirely derived from OA publications, JVP’s IF is not. It’s possible that if one looked at only the OA papers in JVP, the IF would be different from that of the non-OA papers. It would be interesting to know if the OA papers get cited more than the non-OA papers, and how the IF for just the OA segment of JVP compares to that of PLoS ONE. I realize that the numbers are probably not available to make that comparison, I’m really just pointing out one more way that IFs fail to tell us what we’d like to know.

  19. Paul Barrett Says:

    I can’t go further into the discussions about JVP’s negotiations here as there are legal and commercial implications to releasing such data -I’d need to check with the publishers and SVP to see how much of that conversation I can make public.

  20. Matt Wedel Says:

    That’s understandable. I woud just be surprised if Taylor & Francis truly acted unilaterally, and therefore I am reluctant to deny SVP any credit for the changes. But if I’m wrong, I’m wrong.

    I still regard the original piece as misleading as to how PLoS (in your view) is a superior place to publish.

    Maybe I’m reading too much into the specific wording of that last clause, but I think that possibly it is at the heart of our disagreement. I’m not arguing that PLoS ONE is globally superior, I’m arguing that for authors with money to pay OA publication fees, PLoS ONE offers some big advantages for about a third two thirds the price. The point is not that JVP is a bad journal–it’s not–but that when it comes to OA, and even with the new lower fee, Taylor & Francis is still falling short on many important criteria.

  21. Mike Taylor Says:

    One point that Matt forgot to make is that IFs are silly, inconsistent, and harmful, and we should ditch them.

  22. Paul Barrett Says:

    See Richard B’s point. A 600 USD difference would easily disappear if PLoS produced proofs and employed professional copy-editors…

  23. Raul Daza Says:

    It is better publish in a peer review free internet journal as Paleontologia Eletronica

  24. Mike Taylor Says:

    Wow, this thread is moving fast — very time I post a comment, I find that I’ve missed another one or two that have been posted while I was composing mine!

    Lots to say here.

    First, I’m sure it doesn’t need spelling out, but I’ll be explicit: like Richard Butler, I strongly support both journals. The fact that I think PLoS ONE comes out ahead in many respects doesn’t change the fact that JVP is awesome, and I want it to continue to be as successful as it’s been till now.

    Second, Paul says “In my Point 3 I am not attacking peer-reviewers, or editors, but PLoS policy on criteria to accept. My point about wanting to publish only the best of the available papers in a field still stands.” It does, but that only-the-best-papers policy is one that serves the journal, not the author. More importantly, I don’t believe it serves science, for two reasons.

    1. We all know that in the end pretty much everything that’s solid science gets published somewhere. It’s just a matter of how long it takes to keep sending it out to journal after journal until it finds a home. This is a terrible use of researchers’ time. We train people to Ph.D level, then put them into the low-level clerical work of reformatting references.

    2. history shows that we are terrible at predicting which papers will be be “important”. Amazingly, citation counts correlate very poorly with impact factor, and papers that are dismissed by journals that want “only the best” can go on to become citation monsters. PLoS ONE’s very respectable impact factor is actually all the more impressive when one considers the “long tail” of sound-but-dull papers that are published there. What it tells me is that in fact even the unsexy papers are getting cited — which means they are useful to the scientific community. Much better to get them out there than to disbar them on the basis of a subjective and historically very flawed judgement of likely impact.

    If all that seems like a digression, my point is this: Paul gives JVP’s selectivity as a way in which it’s better than PLoS ONE. I look at the same inter-journal difference and draw the opposite conclusion.

    Third, ucfagls is unfortunately correct that Taylor and Francis’s version of “open access” is not truly open access, i.e. in accordance with the original definition of that term in the Budapest declaration. There are good and important reasons why this is a problem, but I will save them for a separate post. Anyone impatient can read the classic PLoS Biology paper, Why Full Open Access Matters.

    Fourth, where is JVP’s extra $650, above the PLoS ONE fee, going? Richard pointed out that PLoS ONE does not do copy-editing, nor offer proofs. While the former doesn’t matter to me — JVP’s handling of my 20-pager turned up only a tiny handful of copy errors, maybe none at all — the latter is a real issue. I don’t know what it would cost PLoS ONE to add a proofing stage to their process, but maybe they could do that as a pay-extra option. Still: it’s not worth $650 to me.

  25. Mike Taylor Says:

    One more point on the $650 difference between JVP’s $2000 and PLoS ONE’s $1350. JVP is published the Taylor and Francis, which is part of Informa, a for-profit publisher that makes profits of 32.4% of revenue. So when you pay $2000 to publish as open access in JVP, 32.4% of that — $648 — is going straight out of the publisher, into shareholders’ pockets. So, funny enough, it turns out that the actual cost of publishing OA at JVP is $1352, with the rest being gravy; almost exactly the same as PLoS ONE.

    So coming back to the original question that Matt posted in the article, “Would you choose to pay $2000/article for OA publication in JVP?”, I find that I’m not crazy about donating an extra $650 purely for the benefit of Informa shareholders.

    (Of course, this a purely ideological argument, and will not appeal to everyone. Where the $2000 actually goes is arguably unimportant to most authors — the only question that matters is what you get for your $2000, and whether it’s worth what you pay.)

  26. Richard Butler Says:

    Copyediting might not matter to you Mike, and I can also personally live without it, but this is not necessarily true of all authors. At the end of the day it comes down to a personal choice for those who have funding available to pay OA fees, but my point was that, once these additional services are taken into account, I feel that the $2000 OA fee charged by JVP doesn’t stack up so badly against the $1350 OA fee for PLoS ONE.

    The problem from my point of view is that the DFG only allows €750/year in publication costs, which is not even enough to meet the PLoS fees in their entirety, but hopefully that will change in the future…

  27. Mike Taylor Says:

    For anyone who wonders, €750 =~ $995. Seems very strange for DFG to provide an annual allowance for OA publishing — as though they are trying to penalise more productive authors!

    Point taken that some authors have more need of copy-editing than others.

  28. Andy Farke Says:

    A few replies to random things throughout the thread, starting with Paul’s. Looking at papers published in PLoS ONE in 2009, the total number of citations for each since then (as indexed in Web of Science) ranges from 2 to 22, with an average of 9.6 each, median & mode of 8. The raw data are (2, 2, 3, 3, 3, 3, 4, 5, 6, 6, 7, 7, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 9, 14, 14, 18, 19, 19, 21, 22, 22). Note that as the number of paleontology submissions increases, this overall value may go down through the years. But, I also don’t know how the “open access bump” may factor in here, either. (Other folks have beaten the “impact factor” hobby horse to a pulp here and elsewhere, so I’m not going to wade into *that* for now)

    Re: which percentage of paleontology articles have their OA fees waived, I do not have access to that information (the academic and section editors are kept distant from individual article financials to avoid conflict of interest). Speaking anecdotally from other folks who have discussed it with me, my impression is that a fair number of authors do request a waiver, and I have never heard of the waiver being denied. For the overall journal, my recollection is that around 10% of papers there use a fee waiver, but unfortunately I can’t point anyone towards where that number came from. I also know that not everyone knows about the waiver, and hence may be under the impression that PLoS ONE is a “pay-to-publish” scheme (and there are publishers out there who have that strategy!).

    (and thank you, Paul, for your clarification on the statement re: editorial ethics – much appreciated!)

    And it turns out that everyone else has said what I wanted to say elsewhere in the thread. I’ll just close by noting that I’m not *particularly* interested in a PLoS vs. JVP cage match, contrary to any impressions I might have given or others may have of me. ;-) I have great admiration for both journals, tempered by the fact that neither is ideal in various respects (which is OK).


  29. Using a slightly different method (using Google Scholar rather than ISI Web of Knowledge, and manually weeding-out duplicates and other non-journal article ‘citations’), but the same calculation…

    I arrived at an ‘impact factor’ for PLoS One 2010 Palaeontology content of 4.15.

    http://www.science3point0.com/palphy/2011/06/25/if-plos-one-paleontology-was-a-journal/

    Cites in 2010 to items published in: 2009 = 3 + 6 + 6 + 1 + 1 + 0 + 2 + 1 + 3 + 5 + 6 + 0 + 2 + 5 + 3 + 2 + 5 + 5 + 2 + 4 + 2 + 2 + 3 + 12 = 81
    Cites in 2010 to items published in: 2008 = 0 + 6 + 4 + 3 + 4 + 5 + 4 + 10 + 4 + 3 + 6 + 0 + 5 + 8 + 15 + 8 = 85

    Calculation: IF = (Cites to recent items / Number of recent items) = (81+85) / (24+16) = 4.15

    It doesn’t surprise me that this number is higher than Andy’s estimate – Web of Knowledge only indexes some journals not all e.g. Caminhos de Geografia (a Brazilian journal) which is counted by Google Scholar but not by WoK.

    Obviously one would then need to re-calculate JVP’s ‘impact factor’ using Google Scholar to make the calculations comparable. But either way – it’s clear which ever method one uses, that palaeontology in PLoS One has big impact compared to other palaeontology-specific journals. No doubt in part *because* it’s Open Access.

  30. 22mya Says:

    Mike – I agree that JVP and PLoS One are different journals with different strengths and weaknesses, and I don’t think we should be getting into a pissing contest over the two. The types of manuscripts I’d submit to JVP are largely different than the ones I’d consider sending to PLoS One.

    However, I don’t quite follow your calculations on T&F’s profit margin for the JVP OA fee.

    1. First, you’re assuming that T&F make 32% on every journal in their stable, and that’s undoubtely not the case. I suspect their margin on JVP is lower given all the various items in the contract.

    2. Lets assume for a moment though that they do make 32% on every journal, or at least the OA fee. This is almost certainly 32% on the “full-price” OA fee, $3250. Thats a profit of $1040. Now unless T&F have magically found a way to reduce operating costs for JVP only, their discounting of the OA fee to $2000 comes out of their profit margin. So I suspect it is much more likely that T&F are breaking even on the OA fee for JVP. Which means the remaining cost difference compared to PLoS One, can, as Richard Butler mentioned, be chalked up to producing proofs and copy-editing.

    3. Its worth pointing out that JVP doesn’t just get any copy-editing, they get it from a US/UK copy editor; this job is not outsourced to India etc. This makes a huge difference in quality – just talk to someone who has had their proof “corrected” by a copy-editor who is not familiar with the conventions of the field. Also, you may be OK at copy-editing your own manuscript, but as someone whose been an editor for the past seven years, I can tell you that a shocking percentage of authors are not good at following journal guidelines and catching typographical errors in their own work.

  31. Mike Taylor Says:

    Randy, I don’t honestly follow your argument about T&F finances. It seems to me that we have nowhere near enough information to guess meaningfully what their costs and profits are on individual titles, so that all we can really say is that 32% of whatever money they make (whether from APCs or subscriptions) goes out of the world of academia and to shareholders.

    Also, while I agree with you — really, who wouldn’t? — that JVP and PLoS ONE are both good journals and that there is plenty of space for both of them, I am a bit surprised that you say “the type of paper I’d target for JVP largely doesn’t overlap with the type of paper I’d target for PLoS One”. I’d have said that both journals have a very strong line in pretty pure descriptive papers.

  32. 22mya Says:

    I’m not sure how just the fact that JVP and PLoS One publish predominantly descriptive papers means that I’d send exactly the same types of manuscripts to both journals. There are many factors that I (and most scientists) consider when choosing a journal to submit to. Palaeontology and Journal of Systematic Palaeontology also publish predominantly descriptive papers too, but the manuscripts I’d submit to these are not necessarily the same exact type as those I’d send to JVP or PLoS One. In the end I was just trying to say that the two journals can happily co-exist and at least some of us see reasons to parse our output between the two journals rather than deciding to go with one over the other.

    Regarding T&F’s finances, I agree with you that:

    “we have nowhere near enough information to guess meaningfully what their costs and profits are on individual titles”

    and

    “all we can really say is that 32% of whatever money they make goes out of the world of academia and to shareholders”

    So, for that very reason I don’t think its appropriate to apply the 32% margin to a single journal title (i.e., JVP) or single journal open access fee. If I read your argument correctly, you were saying that the difference in OA fees between JVP and PLoS One shouldn’t be chalked up to costs, but rather T&F making a profit. I’d disagree, or at least agree with you that we don’t have enough info to evaluate that inference.

  33. Mike Taylor Says:

    Randy, your name is showing up as 22mya — a much less interesting era than your usual 220mya!

  34. Matt Wedel Says:

    Let’s examine the hypothesis that the $650 difference in OA publication fees between PLoS ONE and JVP can be chalked up to the fact that JVP manuscripts are proofread.

    Some quick Googling on proofreading salaries gives a stated average of $44,000 per year (here), which works out to about $22 per hour, assuming 40-hour workweeks and 2 weeks of paid vacation (40 hours x 50 weeks = 2000 hours). On another site I found self-reported proofreader salaries with high of $28 per hour–and a low a little under half that.

    So let’s generously assume that JVP proofreaders make as much as the most highly paid that I found, $28 per hour. To earn $650 proofreading each paper, they’d have to spend a bit over 23 hours on each paper–three full working days, assuming no coffee breaks, checking email, filling out reports, or attending meetings. In the real world, probably more like four working days. And this is for top earners. An average proofreader would take more than a week to equal that much money, and someone at the low end of the spectrum might take a fortnight.

    So how fast are those top proofreaders working, assuming that their hourly wages account for the entire $650 split? Mike’s Brachiosaurus paper was 66 manuscript pages and came out as 20 printed pages in JVP. If we also generously assume that these high-paid proofreaders spend their 23 hours only on the longest manuscripts regularly considered–70 pages–that works out to about 21 printed pages. So the hypothesis requires us to accept that the best proofreaders in the business, working at their fastest to get through the max-length manuscript, take a full hour to proofread what will become a single printed page in the journal.

    If we assume that for JVP Taylor & Francis employs proofreaders who make an average wage and deal with manuscripts of average length, they’d have to spend almost an hour on each manuscript page to make up the $650 difference.

    Now, in these calculations I am eliding the cost of administrating those proofreaders–paying their support staff and bosses, giving them a desk and a computer, keeping the power on and so forth. That will not be enough to make up the difference, unless the publisher is just horribly, horribly inefficient at this stuff. I can see a proofreader taking a few hours to go through a paper carefully, but only a few, not dozens.

    A final important point: these paid Taylor & Francis proofreaders aren’t getting first drafts. They’re working with manuscripts that have already received at least two careful peer reviews from unpaid reviewers and usually a third read-through from a diligent editor. So some fraction of the work should be done for them already.

    So I am forced to conclude, based on easily obtainable figures and some primary-school math, that the hypothesis that proofreading costs the publisher $650 per paper is unlikely to be true. If it is true, then it’s a scandal, and a godawful waste of the author’s money.

    Second problem with that hypothesis: if the entire difference between the OA fees at PLoS ONE and JVP is because of proofreading, then apparently they’re not making any profit at all relative to PLoS ONE. Now, I agree that the $650 is probably not 100% profit, either. But I think it very unlikely that the publisher has declined to make any profit whatsoever off of OA in JVP. We may not be able to tell how much of that $650 is going to Taylor & Francis shareholders, but some of it almost certainly is. And the question for authors is, is the unparseable mix of proofreading, free reprints, and shareholder profits a good use of your $650?

  35. Andy Farke Says:

    In my understanding, some portion of the profits from JVP get returned to SVP (it’s tough to parse that out though – the Form 990 available through Guidestar is pretty oblique on the info and not yet available for years since the switch). I don’t know what it is, and doubt the information is public or could be made public (beyond the Form 990). Perhaps for the next round of journal contracts, it might be worth doing so.

    I would also note that a fair amount of copy-editing is put onto the authors and editors at JVP, definitely more than on average for most journals I know. IMO, copy-editing is generally a good thing on the balance (but not absolutely necessary in all cases). . .but, the JVP editors (and authors) are also supplying a *very* clean product to the journal. To be fair, I do some basic copy-editing with most manuscripts I handle at PLoS ONE, too.

    A useful exercise might be to compare pre- and post-publication text, just to see how much is copy-edited by the paid staff. I did this for a paper I had in Journal of Experimental Biology a few years back – there was one case where they made an awkward phrase of mine a little clearer (genuine value added), but otherwise the paper was fairly unchanged.

  36. Matt Wedel Says:

    In my understanding, some portion of the profits from JVP get returned to SVP….I don’t know what it is, and doubt the information is public or could be made public

    Yeah, exactly. I’ll start counting that when someone shows me how much it is. And it’s not much of a defense–”Taylor & Francis may be overcharging you, but at least they’re giving some of that back to the Society, but we can’t tell you how much!”

    I would also note that a fair amount of copy-editing is put onto the authors and editors at JVP, definitely more than on average for most journals I know.

    Yes, that is my perception as well–which is why it’s not fair to give Taylor & Francis all the credit.

    Bottom line, more transparency would be wonderful. Before someone jumps down my neck about how the Society is not trying to hide anything from us, I get that. I mean transparency vis-a-vis the publisher, about where our money is going. This is a problem for all the big barrier-based publishers, as Mike discusses in the next post. I hope we start seeing changes soon.

  37. Casey Says:

    I’m still curious who in the field of paleontology has 2000$, or even 1350$ to simply pay to publish anything? Do -these- numbers even really matter? Why argue about something still completely out of touch with the abilities of most of its submitters? 2000$ is one semester of Undergraduate lab assistant, one international museum or short field trip, or several high-res microCT scans, among other things that I would choose to spend money on rather than publication costs. 2000$ likely equals or exceeds the total of small internal grants available to most working paleontologists. And if I included 1350$ in a line item for OA of any grant, it would be stricken despite the likelihood that the reviewer was sympathetic to the request. Its good to have the option for JVP, but I think its still untenable.

    I have requested the PLOS waiver each time I’ve published (3x so far; 2 for JVP), and have ended up paying a minimal fee, something close to a typical single night’s stay at SVP’s conference hotel. I have also personally proven that copy editing or proofreading errors exist in both PLOS and JVP publications, so there is no 100% guarantee of effectiveness and perfection regardless of what costs and services are offered by the two groups. It is always up to the authors to put forward their best work regardless of the services offered by the publishing house.

    Editing/formatting citations is #1 my least favorite thing to do period and it would be interesting if reviewers were variably assigned to focus on them (or not, hopefully in my case).

    All this said, the posts on OA and editor policies here are enlightening. Mizzou libraries has just recently had to critically revise its approach and budget (or lack thereof) associated with journals, books, and other library services. The links, discussion, and information here and elsewhere have enabled me to form a more educated opinion about the future of libraries at large institutions like mine. Aspects of the Harvard model may work here too. We’ll see.

  38. Paul Barrett Says:

    Matt, as you say your answer about what constitutes the 650 difference is incomplete in terms of infrastructure costs and employee benefits etc. it also overlooks the fact the proofs not only go through copy editing, but quite extensive production editing (formatting, checking files) and that due to to various reasons (mainly author error related, adding in last minute changes ec) a single MS might go through two or three rounds of proofing. It’s actually quite time intensive: I know as I watch each MS through from submission to publication. Even though JVP editors pass very clean copy to the publishers second proofs are quite common.

    Mike’s MSs may be very clean, but as those of us who edit MSs on a regular basis will attest, the vast majority are not and copy editing is essential where small inconsistencies in either format or spelling can change meaning or emphasis (or lead to loss of citations if journals are spelt incorrectly).

    You can see the contirbution that JVP makes to the Society’s venues in the Business Meeting or in the relevant minutes of SVP meetings if you’d care to look. I can’t remember the figures (I tend not to retain the business side of things in m head, though I see them, as these matters are largely handled by the Business Office), but it runs to a few 10000 USD per year.

    Andy’s figures are interesting on citations in PLoS, thanks. It would be interesting to work out JVPs IF on Google, but given we publish around 150+ articles per year I’d need to allocate a few hours to trawl the necessary citation data, though I suspect that it might only be marginally higher than that on ISI.

    As an aside, I quite like Google Scholar (who wouldn’t – I makes my H-index seven points higher than on ISI due to book citations). Need to bear in mind that it’s an overestimate of academic impact (it counts citations in blogs and personal web pages or example) whereas ISI is v conservative. The most useful measure has yet to be invented and would provide citation results somewhere between the two.

    I’d be interested to know how many VP authors submitting anywhere have paid for Open Access in full. Any of you guys? I haven’t yet, largely as I haven’t been able to get the funds on grants (this item always removed from my grants by the awarding bodies in the past).

  39. Matt Wedel Says:

    I’m still curious who in the field of paleontology has 2000$, or even 1350$ to simply pay to publish anything? Do -these- numbers even really matter? Why argue about something still completely out of touch with the abilities of most of its submitters?

    I have tremendous sympathy for this point of view. It’s been the major thing keeping me from publishing in PLoS ONE. I know they have a waiver, but it feels wrong to use it while I still have startup money left, and I don’t want to spend what little is left of that on publication fees when there are free-as-in beer alternatives.

    Of course the long-term solution is to make everything open, and allow institutions to pay the OA publication fees of their authors instead of spending that money on journal subscriptions. Everyone wins: authors get their OA fees paid, OA publishers get paid for services rendered, and institutions save money (since OA publication is much cheaper than subscription rates for barrier-based publications). Everyone knows this–researchers, librarians, and OA publishers–and has for years, but no-one seems to know how to make it happen. It reminds me of Clay Shirky’s “The collapse of complex business models”. I fear that our institutions are so calcified that the necessary changes just won’t be possible without tearing things down and starting over. I hope that’s not the case, but it would be nice to see some forward movement in this area. If anyone has any good news on this front, please point me to it.

  40. Matt Wedel Says:

    Matt, as you say your answer about what constitutes the 650 difference is incomplete in terms of infrastructure costs and employee benefits etc. it also overlooks the fact the proofs not only go through copy editing, but quite extensive production editing (formatting, checking files)

    Yes, but there is at least some formatting and putting files online at PLoS ONE, so that doesn’t fully count as a difference between the two journals. Admittedly, the production editing at PLoS ONE might not be as extensive as at JVP, but it can’t be zero.

    You can see the contirbution that JVP makes to the Society’s venues in the Business Meeting or in the relevant minutes of SVP meetings if you’d care to look. I can’t remember the figures (I tend not to retain the business side of things in m head, though I see them, as these matters are largely handled by the Business Office), but it runs to a few 10000 USD per year.

    Thank you, I will look up those numbers. My point, though, is that because of limitations on what information the Society gets from the publisher, it is probably impossible to tell how much of that money comes from member subscriptions, institutional subscriptions, online access fees to paywalled material, and OA publication fees–I don’t even know if Taylor & Francis sends us money from all of those revenue streams or just some of them. So it’s practically impossible to say how much of the OA fee in particular goes to the Society. If anyone knows differently, please set me straight.

    As an aside, I quite like Google Scholar (who wouldn’t – I makes my H-index seven points higher than on ISI due to book citations). Need to bear in mind that it’s an overestimate of academic impact (it counts citations in blogs and personal web pages or example) whereas ISI is v conservative. The most useful measure has yet to be invented and would provide citation results somewhere between the two.

    Yeah, it would be nice if Google would tighten up the system to cut out the spurious citations, but I guess one can only complain so much about a free service. And IIRC users can do this themselves, it just takes a little longer. Maybe a lot longer for people with more notches on the bedpost–your H-index boost from books is not much below my total H-index.

    I’d be interested to know how many VP authors submitting anywhere have paid for Open Access in full. Any of you guys? I haven’t yet, largely as I haven’t been able to get the funds on grants (this item always removed from my grants by the awarding bodies in the past).

    I haven’t, mosty for lack of money, and unwillingness to spend what little money I have on publishing when there are free alternatives.

    Also, my thinking in this area has been evolving very rapidly. My last first-authored paper in a non-OA journal was in 2009. OA was on my radar then, but it honestly never even occurred to me to see if the Journal of Experimental Zoology had an OA option. Now I can’t imagine publishing anything that’s not OA, whether it’s in an OA journal or using the OA option at a non-OA journal. Mike and I have been discussing this backstage quite a bit lately–both of us have strongly held opinions now that we didn’t have just a year or two ago–and I’m planning to talk about it in an upcoming post.

  41. Paul Barrett Says:

    I think yo can get the breakdown of how JVP makes money from the same source I mentioned above – I knw it makes money from the publisher and from various agencies (e.g, Informaworld) hat enable access to JVP either online or via bundle deals to libraries. These come in as separate payments. Not sure how membership dues subsidise JVP subscriptions to members. An email to the SVP Treasurer would probably get the info if not broken down in enough detail in the published annual accounts.

  42. Matt Wedel Says:

    Thanks, Paul, that is very helpful, and more information than I expected would be available. I’ll check it out.

  43. Andy Farke Says:

    Of course the long-term solution is to make everything open, and allow institutions to pay the OA publication fees of their authors instead of spending that money on journal subscriptions.

    OA advocate that I am, my hesitation here is that this puts a big burden on those who are at small institutions (e.g., mine) or independent researchers. Yes, there are many journals out there with no-cost OA or fee-waivers – it’s up to OA advocates to make sure it stays that way. I would be *very* willing to bet that the Great Publisher Boycott of 2035 will be targeting ridiculous OA fees. This should not by any means be interpreted to mean that I think OA is bad, just that we need to be very watchful of the publishers. Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. . .

    Of course, the current system doesn’t favor small institutions at all either – I think I would rather easy access overall, and have a slightly more limited range of publishing options (which is effectively the case anyhow, because I’m pretty choosy now about where I publish). It’s been interesting to note that often those who are least concerned about open access have the largest libraries at their easy disposal (a recent statement in PALAIOS comes to mind, for instance).

  44. Mike Taylor Says:

    Casey says:

    I’m still curious who in the field of paleontology has 2000$, or even 1350$ to simply pay to publish anything?

    I do get the impression that palaeo is much less well funded for OA processes charges than many other fields. Andy might know the numbers, but IIRC the proportion of PLoS papers where the full fee is paid is somewhere in the ballpark of 80%. Based only on the comments made here, it seems that it’s probably closer to 20% in palaeo.

    If that’s right, then PLoS (or at least authors in other disciples who publish there) are subsidising palaeo. Which is jolly nice of them.

    A couple of you have mentioned including publication fees in grant applications and having them struck out. I wonder if this is an area where palaeo funding is lagging behind health-research funding? I know that the Wellcome Trust routinely includes OA publication fees in its grants.

    Paul says:

    Mike’s MSs may be very clean, but as those of us who edit MSs on a regular basis will attest, the vast majority are not

    Doesn’t JVP insist on this as a matter of course? I’ve heard from people whose submissions have been instantly rejected from JVP because of formatting minutiae such as using the wrong kind of dash. If that level of consistency really is required on submission, it’s hard to see that this leaves copy-editors with much to do!

    It would be interesting to work out JVPs IF on Google, but given we publish around 150+ articles per year I’d need to allocate a few hours to trawl the necessary citation data.

    It occurs to me that Google Scholar could do this itself: it has all the necessary information to hand. I wonder why it doesn’t? (Or could it be that it does, but none of us has found the right option?)

    Matt says:

    My thinking in this area has been evolving very rapidly [...] Now I can’t imagine publishing anything that’s not OA, whether it’s in an OA journal or using the OA option at a non-OA journal. Mike and I have been discussing this backstage quite a bit lately –both of us have strongly held opinions now that we didn’t have just a year or two ago.

    Yes, absolutely! I never set out to be an activist — far from it. I don’t want to be putting my time and effort into Open Access advocacy, I want to be spending it on sauropods. It’s happened quite by accident, and by degrees, that I’ve become progressively incensed by the utter stupidity of our current publishing system. I’ll be interested to see what Matt has to say about his own journey.

    Finally, Andy says:

    I would be *very* willing to bet that the Great Publisher Boycott of 2035 will be targeting ridiculous OA fees. This should not by any means be interpreted to mean that I think OA is bad, just that we need to be very watchful of the publishers. Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.

    I’m not so worried about this, because a market where publishing choices are made on a per-article basis is an efficient one. If (say) Wiley have a disproportionately high OA fee, then other publishers will undercut them and authors just won’t go to Wiley. In short, in the author-pays model, the person making the choice is the person paying for what’s chosen, whereas in the subscription model our choices of where to send our work don’t directly affect our own finances — hence all the inefficiencies.

    Of course one possible result of this is that other Gold OA publishers will be able to get a good job done more cheaply than PLoS. I’m cool with that, I’d guess Andy is as well, and I would think that Michael Eisen and Pete Binfield are, too. There’s nothing magical or sacred about PLoS, they merely happen to be at the head of the field right now. I mention this only because at the moment I’m saying a lot of very positive things about PLoS here and elsewhere, and I don’t want anyone to think it’s because I’m a PLoS cheerleader.

  45. Paul Barrett Says:

    We ask authors to submit clean copy and don’t unsubmit MSs for single trivial errors. However, many papers can be perfectly formatted, but in less than perfect English – this is true of authors of all nationalities. Also authors often introduce errors during revisions. I spend many hours of my time having to correct the mistakes of others that coud be avoided if they checked the instructions, checked through their bibliographies, or re-read their own MS to see if it makes sense before resubmitting …

  46. 220mya Says:

    Regarding Casey’s and Paul’s questions about availability to OA funds, the answer is yes and no.

    1. I don’t often have research funds available for OA fees, but I have gotten a couple of grants that included line-items for OA fees, and this line-item was funded.

    2. I’d be interested to hear any actual first-person accounts of OA fee line items being struck from a grant by a funding organization. In my experience these are paltry line items for at least the larger funding agencies (i.e., NSF), and they are typically viewed favorably, because OA contributes to ‘broader impacts’. The only time I’ve had an OA line item struck from the budget was when I did it myself to reduce the total cost! That said, I realize they can be an significant portion of smaller grants (e.g., National Geographic) and can mean the difference of one whole undergraduate student, a museum research trip, etc.

    3. I may not have research funds to pay an OA fee in most cases, but my institution does (see http://www.lib.utah.edu/services/open-access-publishing-fund.php). Even though this is a competitive fund, I’ve been able to get funding three times in a row. I’ve mentioned this befor; at least in the US, more and more libraries (at least at the larger institutions) are setting up open access funds because its cheaper to pay OA fees for in-house researchers than it is to pay an institutional subscription rate.


  47. [...] JVP‘s optional-OA uptake has been disappointing, too — probably the true reason for the recent price-cut. My guess is that this is pretty representative. So I think that hybrid is really a bit of a [...]


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