Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Friday, May 04, 2007

Not waiting for gold OA

Stevan Harnad, Asymptotic Costs of Gold Open Access Journal Publication, Open Access Archivangelism, May 3, 2007. 

Summary:  Martin Osborne, the managing editor of the Open Access Journal Theoretical Economics, points out that the publication fee ($75) for his journal is an order of magnitude lower than what I called the "going rate" for Gold OA journal publishing fees. He also points out that if institutional subscriptions were all cancelled and publishing costs were of the order of those charged by his journal, then there would be considerable net savings. I reply that he is quite right to point out that there are Gold OA journals that charge less than the going rate (indeed there are many that do not charge at all). I also agree that the fee his journal charges, though a bit on the low side, is much closer to what will prove to be the true per-article cost of OA publishing, once journals all convert to OA publishing. But the reality is that only about 10% of journals are OA today, and the publishing charges are what they are, today. And with most of the potential funds for paying them still tied up in institutional subscriptions, those publishing charges are an unaffordable burden for most authors, today. They are also an unnecessary burden, if the goal is to provide OA to every published article, to maximize its accessibility, usage and impact, for that can be done through Green OA self-archiving, by the research community, for itself. In contrast, converting journals to Gold OA, and at an affordable price, is not something the research community can do for itself. The research community can, however, mandate Green OA self-archiving, and thereby provide 100% OA, today. That Green OA itself might in turn eventually generate cost-cutting, downsizing, and conversion to Gold OA by journals, at a fair price, paid for out of the institutional subscription cancellation savings. Meanwhile, it is folly for the research community to just keep waiting for Gold OA, when providing 100% Green OA is already fully within its reach.

Comment.  Martin Osborne is right that his journal's fee is lower than the going rate and he deserves credit for keeping it low.  It's a good example for other journals and I hope it will spread.  Stevan is right that we shouldn't wait for it to spread, or we should self-archive while we wait.  But I suspect that Martin Osborne agrees with that as well.  I'd simply like to make explicit, and remember, that the case for OA archiving is compatible with praise and support for OA journals.