10 June 2009

Author pays, publisher profits & science loses?

Peter Suber reports on the successful submission of a hoax paper to the Bentham Science, The Open Information Science Journal, which claims to have peer-review. Last year Bentham Science announced about 200 new OA journals, all using author charges and, of course, the aim is to maximise profits. It does make one wonder, however, how far other more reputable publishers may be prepared to go in maximising profits and raises a question about the whole idea of OA based on author charging.

Readers of this blog will be well aware of my feelings on the subject: money spent to support corporate shareholders and executive bonuses should be spent, instead, on establishing really open journals, like Information Research. No money changes hands in any direction as far as publication or access are concerned: strict and strong peer review is applied because I don't need to fill pages. The only thing that counts is the quality of the content.

Any other process is flawed: author charging will encourage corruption, and 'toll access' puts money in the wrong place. Some day the policy makers are going to understand this, it's just a pity that it is a long time coming!

When this particular journal was announced several friends of mine and I were approached to be members of the Editorial Board - we conferred and we all declined. I trust that those who accepted the invitation will now resign - although I must admit that the names of only six of the Board members are known to me.


  1. Please see the original story, which can be found on the Scholarly Kitchen:


  2. I believe that your conclusion - that "author charging will encourage corruption" - is flawed. Author charging is required to ensure the sustainability of open access journals. Responsible open access journals, such as the the members of the Open Access Scholalarly Publishers Association, employ rigorous and documented peer-review processes. The Journal of Medical Internet Research, for example, publishes the names of the peer-reviewers underneath each published article.
    In March 2008, I was the first to warn about lack of ethics and professionalism at Bentham. The creation of OASPA was one of the consequences from this. Let's not allow the advocates of the subscription-based model (which includes Davis & Anderson, who conducted this "experiment" - without "controls") to tarnish an entire industry / business model, on the basis of one black sheep. Black sheep exist everywhere, including in the toll-access journal space!

  3. There are two kinds of open access journals - those published for profit and those published as a service to the scholarly community through collaboration and/or subsidy. In the case of the former, I do not believe that my conclusion is flawed - the profit motive will always dominate in a commercial enterprise.