Friday, March 30, 2012

Pricing Principles used by Scholarly Open Access Publishers

In their article "Pricing Principles used by Scholarly Open Access Publishers" (latest issue of Learned Publishing) Bo-Christer Björk and David Solomon discuss their research into how open access journals are financed.

The abstract is below:
The article processing charge (APC) is currently the primary method of funding professionally published Open Access peer reviewed journals. The pricing principles of 77 OA publishers publishing over 1000 journals using APCs were studied and classified. The most commonly used pricing method is a single fixed fee, which can either be the same for all of a publisher’s journals or individually determined for each journal. Fees are usually only levied for publication of accepted papers, but there are some journals that also charge submission fees. Instead of fixed prices many publishers charge by the page or have multi-tiered fees depending on the length of articles. The country of origin of the author can also influence the pricing, in order to facilitate publishing for authors from developing countries.
Part of the conclusion follows:
In the same way as innovative entrepreneurs in other fields such as digital sales of music and mobile telephony, OA publishers have experimented with different pricing mechanisms. Many of the pricing principles correspond directly with the cost structure of publishing whereas others with the author’s ability to pay. Among the big (≥ 10 journals) publishers, mainly commercial companies, the individual journal by journal pricing using fixed prices seems to be the dominant mode. Waivers for less endowed authors are used by half of these publishers. Institutional membership schemes are quite common in this category.

A slight majority of the single journal publishers use page charges rather than fixed pricing. Since the majority of these are scientific societies we could speculate that they as publishers historically might be familiar with using page charges also in subscription journals. Submission charges are quite rare, especially among the bigger publishers. . . .

Friday, March 16, 2012

Anarchy and Commercialism

In a recent article, Anarchy and Commercialism, in Inside Higher Education Philip G. Altbach and Brendan Rapple are critical of the swiftly growing number of exploitative, pseudo and very mediocre journals whose primary goal is to make easy money rather than disseminate and advance scholarship. Their conclusion:
Is there any solution to this periodicals crisis? Several strategies spring to mind. Scholars can refuse to serve on editorial boards, submit articles, or act as peer reviewer for journals that are manifestly of poor quality and/or are excessively priced. Those applying for promotion and funding can be limited to submitting, say, five or six seminal publications — the point being that the quality of one's research should count for more than quantity.

Open-access e-journals hold strong promise. Many scholarly organizations and universities have created new open-access journals that are reliably peer-reviewed and are backed by respected scholars. There are over 7,000 free, quality-controlled scholarly journals in the Directory of Open Access Journals. Some of these publications have achieved a high level of respectability and acceptance, while, admittedly, others are struggling, and there are no doubt some that are of poor quality and little relevance. It is early in the open-access movement. If successful, this movement can be an important vehicle for eradicating economic barriers to accessing scholarship. Moreover, if universities and scholarly societies, through expanding open access, can wrest more control of both the production and diffusion of scholarship away from commercial publishers, legitimate and illegitimate, as well as quality control and prices could be placed on a surer footing.

It is undeniable that presently technology and globalization have brought anarchy to the communication of knowledge in academe and have created serious problems for the academic profession, in a time of increased competition. A meaningful solution will take much dialogue and probably significant changes to how scholarship is diffused, as well as rewarded.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Will FRPAA pass?

In his latest SPARC Open Access Newsletter issue Peter Suber provides a detailed analysis of why the Research Works Act died, and why FRPAA should pass.
His assessment, quoted below, is followed by an explanation of what we can do to help FRPAA's chances:
"Will FRPAA pass?

We don't know, of course. Several factors weigh against it: This is an election year. Congress is as gridlocked and incapacitated as it has ever been, even for legislation with bipartisan support. Many policy issues have a higher priority in Congress than OA.

But several factors boost its chances. This is FRPAA's third time around, and the first two times did a lot of the hard work in educating policy-makers about the issues. The first two times around also gathered some significant endorsements, for example, more than 120 US college and university presidents and provosts, 41 Nobel laureates, major library and public-interest organizations, and at least two non-academic, business-oriented organizations, NetCoalition and the Committee for Economic Development. The White House RFI responses are generally stronger than FRPAA; they're already public and may soon appear in Interagency Working Group reports and White House action.

Finally we can't overlook the RWA shipwreck and the rising tide that beached it. The same forces that brought down RWA are now refocusing on raising up FRPAA. The same forces that protect the NIH policy from repeal now want to see it strengthened and extended to other agencies. The Congressional offices which have begun to understand the issues are heartily tired of publisher misrepresentations.

The RWA, COMPETES Act, FRPAA, and the White House RFI can be put in roughly this order: anti, weak, strong, and stronger. Subtract anti and what do you have? Unambiguous good news. Only time will tell how good it is. And that's where you come in."

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

An Academic Hopes to Take the MLA Into the Social Web

In 2006 Kathleen Fitzpatrick proposed that scholars should place drafts of their monographs online and leave them open to comments, in other words peer review, from other interested and knowledgeable scholars. Receiving positive feedback, she co-founded a project called MediaCommons that provided an open access vehicle for garnering online scholarly peer review of books. Recently hired by the Modern Language Association, Ms. Fitzpatrick is now endeavoring to construct a bloglike platform, called MLA Commons, for the over 30,000 members of the MLA.

For a full report of this project see the article by Jeffrey R. Young in the Chronicle.