The APA and publishing costs

This is a follow-up to my previous post, which was about the APA issuing take-down notices and how you can post preprints to keep your science open.

In a survey last year asking vision researchers’ priorities for journals, the top responses included:

“open access”, “Full academic or professional society control” ; “Low cost” ; and “transparent financial accounts”.

Notably, APA is one of the few publishers in the area of perception that has not provided a response to the concerns highlighted by the survey results. Most articles they publish are available only by subscription but APA makes select articles fully open access for a $3,000 fee typically charged to the authors or their funders. That is a relatively high fee.

From their annual report we know the APA receives $11 million/year in journal subscription revenue, and $67 million in other licensing revenue but the report does not break down the $17 million in “publication production” costs, so it is difficult to evaluate how they are using the $3,000 open access fees.

Some of us, and many of our funders, would like to see science transition to open access publishing, in which authors do not sign their copyright away. We’d also like to see low or no author fees. Changing existing journals, such as the APA journals, is particularly hard because often the publisher owns the journal, even though the editorial board and authors provide all the content that makes the journal what it is. PsyOA is an initiative staking out the principles that we call Fair Open Access and provides information to editors and scholarly societies interested in moving their journal from subscription basis to open access.  Another part of the solution is to use and support new infrastructure for scholarly communication that is not reliant on subscription publishers, such as PsyArXiv and BioRXiv.  Some efforts are underway to create a peer review module to allow journals to use that infrastructure, which is expected to result in low-cost and modern open access journals.



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