Question of viability

January 13, 2006

Derek Law accuses me of the "wilful conflation" of open-access journals with online repositories (Letters, January 6).

It seems improbable in the long term that universities and individual researchers will pay for "subscriber-pays" journals if the papers are available free elsewhere and those journals, therefore, suffer a loss of revenue.

By contrast, publishers of "author-pays" open-access journals, such as BioMed Central, will surely profit from the hasty introduction of institutional and subject repositories because their revenue depends on charges for the submission and/or acceptance of papers.

But huge questions remain over the long-term viability of author-pays journals, which is why the Royal Society is calling for more research into the impact of open-access models before they are introduced.

Martin Taylor
Vice-president, Royal Society

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