Israel Scholar Communication Scrolls

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December 30, 2005

"Open Access" is NOT "Charging the Author or Institution" for Publication

First published at SPARC OA Forum, 26 December 2003

Dear Colleagues,

I wonder why to institutionalize "open access" journal as the one that (proposed item 8) "recover costs by charging the author-institution for each outgoing article they publish".

I lead the journal, Neurobiology of Lipids, that does not charge authors for article publication, and runs at the annual cost of below the cost of one article at BioMedCentral, BMC (500$, please note that PloS biology article publication cost is even higher, 1500$/article). The fee imposed by BMC was the issue near all my colleagues-scientists on the Editorial Board did not agree with.

In my view the current formulation of item 8 (of Stevan Harnad "Draft letter for institutions to sign to implement BerlinDeclaration", see the bottom of this letter original text) follows the compaign of PLoS and BMC for aggresive promotion (that has nothing to do with Neurobiology of Lipids constant growth of subject readership and article access' hits comparable with the top rated BMC titles) and institutionalization of the strict definition of Open Access to fit it into their particular operation/business models.

This compaign in my view exploits (making revenues in case of BMC?) the average scientific and librarian community member poor understanding of desktop2internet publishing capabilities. When the community is properly educated and the end user (not only BioMedCentral) simplicity of internet publishing operation is realised (like a desktop word processor software, or e.mail program operation: does anyone need an operator for an e.mail program or MS Word, 500$ per e.mail preparation/delivery or document typing?) there may be no need for a part of BMC business, as interested committed scientists will be easy doing themselves what now is offered by BMC as Start-a-new-journal fare. These journals run at no-monies by scientists (BUT owned by and profiting BMC) currently compose near 50% of BMC titles.

I do claim that the low-cost technology is available and that the community just need to be educated about it. When this is achieved not-for-profit journals will be run with no technical quality compromise (scholar excellence/quality was always an editorial-not publisher- duty) by scientists with NO need to "recover their [low] costs by charging the author-institution for each outgoing article they publish". Such journals operation may well be supported by small grants (with no budgeting for promotional lanch parties in several countries that multi-million grant to PLoS could itemize) or Institutional/Library budgets.

"Open access" is ethics, not business model of "charging the author or institution" for article publication. Failure to appreciate the above in my view indicate an unfair bias that will be used against Open Access movement by those opposing it.

The proposed "Item 8" should NOT be incorporated in the proposed "Draft letter for institutions to sign to implement Berlin Declaration" in the present form. I request Item 8 and other relevant places to be modified not to limit the definition of "open access" in favor of current major players.

As a holiday joy make 3D Virtual Holy Land tour.

Thank you.


Alexei Koudinov
Neurobiology of Lipids

Competing interest declaration: I do not have any competing financial interest. I am a founding, managing and publishing editor of the Neurobiology of Lipids, an unpaid position. Neurobiology of Lipids (ISSN 1683-5506) has no affiliation with any professional association, publisher, industry member, commercial enterprise, public, educational or government organization. The viewpoint presented in the above letter is my personal view. Also, please see my Open letter on Call to boycott Cell Press.


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