URGENT: Oppose ‘pay to publish’ model

As we’ve noted before, the UK government is adopting a very shortsighted policy of insisting that any research which was funded by the government (including PhD research) must be published at a ‘Gold’ standard of open access if the journal publishing it offers this. The Gold standard requires the submitter to pay. Wealthier institutions will be able to pay this for authors. But even they will have to choose which papers they’re willing to pay for. And those at poorer institutions, or un/under-employed will have to pay themselves (which will very often be the case for recent PhDs). HEFCE has opened a brief consultation. Please do write in and tell them why this is such a terrible idea. It looks to me like you don’t have to be a UK academic to write in. And it seems to me that the shaming of the international community might be a good thing. (If the government went for ‘Green’ open access there would be no charge to publish.)

The address to write to is openaccess AT hefce.ac.uk, and the deadline is 25 March.

For more on the topic from the British Philosophical Association see here.

9 thoughts on “URGENT: Oppose ‘pay to publish’ model

  1. Thanks for sharing this. I just sent an email telling Director Sweeney, that it is a great concept, but it will end up discouraging open dialog if people have to pay to publish.

    I think that these topics are going to come up more often now, since that JSTOR violation case sought jail time instead of fines.

    This has been on my mind a lot, and access to that research is why I am trying to remain affiliated with my university part-time rather than just leaving my job altogether. I would be lost without access to the databases for my research.

  2. Obviously, it is more useful for British academics to write in, but do you think it’s worth-while for non-British to do so?

  3. Given that it is being funded by the government, doesn’t that mean that the government is funding the gold publishing? And if the the person who is doing the research is unemployed then they are not receiving government funding and are not effected by this.

    It seems to me that open access publishing favors the poor institutions and those outside of institutional structures more then it causes problems for them.

  4. I agree with David. I oppose “pay to read.” It makes it impossible to read JSTOR etc. unless you have a formal affiliation with a major research university.

  5. David: No. Suppose A sends a paper off to a journal during their PhD which they are lucky enough to have funded by the government. It is accepted after they submit, but before they find an employer/sufficiently rich employer. They are required to pay out of pocket, 500-1000 pounds to publish their paper.

    Carl: I agree. That is why green access is clearly superior to both the current system and the gold system.

  6. Matt: yes I do. Worldwide outrage at a system under which only the richest can publish may shame them into change.

    And to repeat: the current system also sucks. But pay to publish is not the answer. Green would make it free to publish, and provide open access.

  7. Hey JennySaul, I thought you might want to see this email I got today.
    It feels like it is a start in the right direction.

    Dear Colleagues,

    The Society for Cultural Anthropology (a section of the American Anthropological Association) is excited to announce a groundbreaking publishing initiative. With the support of the AAA, the influential journal of the SCA, Cultural Anthropology, will become available open access, freely available to everyone in the world. Starting with the first issue of 2014, CA will provide world-wide, instant, free (to the user), and permanent access to all of our content (as well as ten years of our back catalog). This is a boon to our authors, whose work we can guarantee the widest possible readership —and to a new generation of readers inside of anthropology and out. Cultural Anthropology will be the first major, established, high-impact journal in anthropology to offer open access to all of its research, and we hope that our experience with open access will provide the AAA as a whole, as well as other journals in the social and human sciences, valuable guidance as we explore alternative publishing models together.

    While the current content of Cultural Anthropology will be available via open access, the current AAA contract with Wiley-Blackwell requires that the AAA continue to provide the journal to our library and member subscribers. Thus, CA will also continue to be available, in full, to library subscribers and all AAA members via the Anthrosource portal. Indeed, if you have access to a library subscription, or enjoy the benefits of AAA membership, we hope that you will continue to access CA by means of Anthrosource. The statistics these downloads generate continue to play an important part in the allocation of revenue, including to Cultural Anthropology, and thus help subsidize this new publishing venture. In the future, our goal, and that of AAA, is to sustain Cultural Anthropology independently as a preeminent publication, produced with the hard work of editors and authors, and the contributions made by the members of the SCA.

    This change opens up new possibilities and new questions for Cultural Anthropology. The most important aspect of the journal is the quality of the research it publishes, and CA will continue its practice of detailed and critical peer review and extensive editorial involvement in the publication of articles. CA will also explore new ways of communicating its content, making it visible to the world beyond our members and subscribers. SCA will also begin to explore other sources of revenue, and consider options for making print versions of the journal available on demand. We are confident that CA can continue to maintain the extraordinarily high standard of scholarship it currently enjoys; indeed, we expect that this new opportunity will attract ever more interesting work. We want to thank the Executive Board and the publishing office of the AAA, and especially all of the members of the SCA, for their encouragement and support of this new project. The members of the SCA Board look forward to working with our editorial team, as well as our colleagues across the academy, and in the library world, as we undertake this important endeavor.

    Brad Weiss
    President, Society for Cultural Anthropology



    Brad Weiss

    121 Waverly Forest Ln

    Chapel Hill NC 27516


    President, Society for Cultural Anthropology

  8. Yes, I agree that £500 is way too much to charge for the “privilege” of being published. £50, however, wouldn’t strike me as outlandish. I paid around that amount to get my dissertation listed in the open access section of ProQuest. I suppose that the amounts we are talking about are quite relevant here. Keeping a server running indefinitely does require a certain amount of capital that has to be raised from somewhere, be it government, libraries, or scholars, but of those three, scholars are the least able to bear financial burdens.

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