Is it success for open access movement?

Grigori Guitchounts writes:

Springer Nature argues that the high APC — a fee that, in theory, is designed to cover production costs so that readers won’t have to — is warranted by its journals’ selectivity and editorial quality. Journals like Nature must handle and review many papers that ultimately get rejected, a spokesperson explained in November, but they collect APCs only from the papers that get published. As a result, the operating costs per published paper are higher for top-tier journals than they are for less selective journals, the company argues…..

That “prestige tax” aside, however, it seems clear that Springer Nature and other for-profit publishers often charge higher APCs than well-regarded nonprofit publishers. I examined a sampling of data from publisher websites and the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) and found that the biggest for-profits — Springer NatureElsevier, and Wiley — charge an average APC of $2,660. While some nonprofits like eLife and PLOS charge nearly as much as their for-profit counterparts, an analysis of data from the DOAJ shows that after removing the big commercial publishers, the remaining open-access journals — published mostly by nonprofit foundations, academic societies, and universities — charged just $715 on average as of 2018. It is hard to imagine, even accepting Springer Nature’s rationale, that the cost of producing an academic article could be so much higher for for-profit publishers. More likely, it seems, the additional surcharge is at least partly a result of profit-seeking by companies looking to maximize their bottom line.

This was in reaction to what Springer announced on their website:

From January 2021, all authors will be able to publish Gold OA when submitting to Nature and the 32 Nature primary research journals and will be afforded the same APC as MPDL, which is 9500 Euros. As such, these will be the first highly selective journals to offer their authors an immediate OA publishing option in this way. Research published in Nature and the Nature research journals  is downloaded by institutional users over 30 times more than papers in a typical journal. Dedicated in-house teams promote the research articles widely, this year achieving around 10,000 mentions in policy documents, generating over 100,000 news stories around the world and attracting over 3 million mentions on Twitter.

Why this is troublesome?

The very nature of the research amplification mentioned here- on social media or policy documents. It means that the journal is offering an assured “idea” around being quoted more. Some scientists may argue it as the “costs of doing business” because it is convenient for most of the big name marketing budget. What will stop Amazon or Google to latch on this “pathway” and push out. 9500 Euros is not even their per second earning from the immensely profitable businesses!

The fast laning and the APC’s (article processing charges) are just another small drop of a scandal in the academia.

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