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7 thoughts on “Society Journals and the Research Works Act”

  1. I was always wondering if an avarage publication will “earn” an amount of money comparable to the OA fees (i.e. 3000 USD for DB), demanded by a journal (as many have an OA option, ranging from several hundreds up to several thousands)?

    If this is not the case, I think it would be a good option to adjust the price and do OA all the way. This could make a reasonable business model for the publisher, the 10% for SDB will be still the same as if it was non OA and make it even more interesting for people to publish in that journal (as likely visibility of the article is increased by OA).

    Does this make sense?

    1. Hi Peter,

      I’m the Executive Editor of Development.

      Just to say: in general, the OA fees charged by journals generally don’t cover the costs of publication – if a journal wants to switch from a subscription model to an OA model, charging the fees they currently do, they’d lose a lot of money. Which, in the case of a journal like Developmental Biology, would probably mean much less or even no money for the societies they help fund. The same is true for Development, which contributes significantly to the BSDB, as well as providing money for other charitable activities run by the Company of Biologists.

      OA journals only can be profitable by either charging OA fees that most authors would baulk at, or by being high-throughput and having a very high acceptance rate, like PLoS One.

      So many society journals are indeed, as Benoit says, stuck between a rock and a hard place: they need publishers to print and host their journals, they need to make some money to fund their societies, and it’s not easy to reconcile these issues with the kinds of OA models that many scientists would like to embrace.

  2. Thank you Katherine for the info. Very interesting issue…
    Would it benefit the finances to quit printing issues and go online only? Printing is likely the 2nd most expensive part besides salaries, I guess…
    In part it might be like in the music industry when sales of physical formats did not cover the production costs (at least for smaller labels) and the only way to survive was switching to digital formats like mp3/iTunes. Still it did never recover to a level like before, but allowed also smaller labels to continue…

  3. OK, so having just done a quick bit of research:
    JCB operate a fairly standard model – subscription fees coupled with a small author charge for publication (page charge or equivalent). They’re published by Rockefeller University Press: a small publishing company rather like CoB, so they’re not shackled by the Elsevier branding, but they way they work isn’t so different from any of the more commercial publishers.
    JCI have what seems to me a pretty unusual model: it’s officially not OA for copyright reasons, but it does offer immediate free access. I assume it manages this because it has quite high author fees in terms of page and figure charges, and it also has a submission charge.

    As for getting rid of print versions, you’ll find that many journals still actually make money from their print versions: through both advertising and subscription. So stopping printing wouldn’t actually help.

    Hope that helps – it’s an incredibly complicated issue, and I really don’t know what the best solution is. Publishing is in a real state of flux right now: as you can see, different publishers are trying out all sorts of different models, and it’ll be very interesting to see what comes out on top in 10 years or so.


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