PLOS will provide establishments a sliding scale of charges to publish in its selective journals, based mostly on their previous publishing quantity.


PLOS, the nonprofit writer that in 2003 pioneered the open-access enterprise mannequin of charging authors to publish scientific articles so they’re instantly free to all, this week rolled out another mannequin that would herald the top of the author-pays period. One of many new choices shifts the price of publishing open-access (OA) articles in its two most selective journals to establishments, charging them a set annual charge; any researcher at that establishment might then publish within the PLOS journals at no extra cost.

The brand new PLOS plan consists of different options novel in scientific publishing, and it joins different rising OA financing fashions that additionally get rid of charges paid by authors. Collectively, the developments recommend the times of researchers instantly paying journals to make their papers free—a system that has made PLOS one of many largest OA publishers—could also be numbered, says Sara Rouhi, director of strategic partnerships at PLOS.

The three-year pilot at PLOS will take a look at the brand new mannequin with the selective journals PLOS Biology and PLOS Drugs. It goals to “show that extremely selective open entry journal publishing can cowl its prices with out charging excessive [article-processing fees (APCs)] or certainly any APCs” and “to equitably distribute price amongst establishments that publish most in these two journals,” PLOS stated in a press release.

The upside for corresponding authors, particularly at North American establishments, is that they’d not must scramble for cash to pay APCs. That has typically required tapping various sources, together with grant funds, and typically their very own pockets.

PLOS acknowledges it’ll possible take time for its new mannequin to take root. To hitch, establishments must carve cash out of flat library budgets already confused by rising subscription prices. To incentivize participation, PLOS is brandishing a stick: Corresponding authors at establishments that don’t choose in would face a “nonmember” charge of almost $7000 per paper by 2023 to publish within the selective journals, far larger than the $3000 APC the journals now cost.

PLOS publishes seven journals in all, and its plan particulars new charge buildings for them. For the 2 selective journals, establishments would pay one in all 12 tiers of annual charges; the charge relies partially on what number of papers all researchers in any respect establishments within the tier have printed in recent times within the journal, both as corresponding or contributing authors. The annual costs vary from almost $40,000 to as little as a couple of hundred {dollars}, or lower than the price of a single APC. PLOS set the charges to cowl its prices, plus a revenue margin capped at 10% to pay for bettering the journals. If extra establishments than PLOS expects join, it’ll use the excess income to decrease charges the next 12 months.

The writer additionally unveiled in the present day a separate coverage change for its 5 different titles. These embrace its high-volume, multidisciplinary PLOS ONE, which fees an APC of as much as $1695. Establishments can as a substitute pay a single annual charge to publish papers by their authors, no matter whether or not they’re listed because the corresponding or contributing ones, broadening the pool of papers lined by the offers.

PLOS introduced an preliminary buyer for each fashions—Jisc, a nonprofit that gives library companies to U.Ok. universities and schools. (Beneath Jisc’s procedures, every establishment would want to choose in to the offers.) The plan for the selective journals has “the potential to assist form the way forward for [OA] funding,” stated Caren Milloy, Jisc’s director of licensing, in a press release. Rouhi says PLOS has additionally acquired oral commitments from about 30 extra establishments and consortia.

The plan for PLOS’s selective journals makes an attempt to serve the wants of each scientists and its personal funds, Rouhi says. Selective journals are costly to supply as a result of they publish a minority of all manuscripts they evaluate. PLOS says it has been subsidizing the APC costs for its biology and drugs titles with revenues from its different journals; with out the subsidies, PLOS says it must enhance APCs by $1400 to $3100 for every paper. The publicly posted charge construction additionally meets a rising name amongst prospects for transparency in journal pricing, Rouhi says. (Many different journals subsidize APCs however don’t reveal by how a lot.)

As well as, the brand new mannequin affords PLOS a path to make its selective journals self-sufficient by means of recurring annual revenues, avoiding the volatility of APC earnings. That might support PLOS’s different efforts in recent times to attain general monetary stability after it reported losses from 2016 to 2018 and the volume of papers printed in its major moneymaker, PLOS ONE, fell. However the group instituted price slicing and CEO Alison Mudditt tweeted this month that PLOS achieved a surplus in 2019 and he or she expects it’ll once more this 12 months.

The brand new experiment with the 2 selective journals represents a modest a part of your complete portfolio: Their $3.4 million mixed bills represented about 9% of PLOS’s whole bills in 2018, whereas their papers accounted for two.5% of all PLOS papers this 12 months, publishing guide Kent Anderson reported on his weblog, The Geyser.

Rouhi says the PLOS plan can be designed to unfold the burden of paying for scientific publishing past research-intensive universities, which in any other case face the prospect of footing the lion’s share of APC payments. Contributing authors work in a wider pool of establishments, together with nonresearch-intensive ones, she notes.

PLOS is beginning the pilots partly out of concern {that a} push by many European establishments to strike “transformative open-access agreements” with publishers, which eradicate APCs by redirecting subscription revenues, might go away little cash for different publishers, akin to PLOS, that rely solely on APCs for income, Rouhi stated. However PLOS is unlikely to finish APCs for all its publications quickly, she added. “There are elements of the world which are deeply invested in APCs, and that’s how they need to do enterprise.” Within the meantime, she says, the pricing experiments are supposed to discover alternative routes of reaching a PLOS objective of eliminating “obstacles to both studying or publishing in PLOS journals.”

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