‘Shock and derision’ as Kent Anderson named Science publisher

Open letter from researchers decries AAAS journal’s high fees and points to Anderson’s combative views on open access

August 28, 2014

Source: American Association for the Advancement of Science

The American Association for the Advancement of Science, which publishes the prestigious Science journals, has been criticised by open access advocates for appointing a perceived sceptic of open access as its publisher, and for charging up to $5,500 (£3,300) to publish in its new open access journal.

Earlier this month, the association named Kent Anderson as its publisher, effective from 3 November. He is a former president of the Society for Scholarly Publishing and founder of its Scholarly Kitchen blog.

Michael Eisen, professor of genetics, genomics and development at the University of California, Berkeley and co-founder of the Plos open access journals, said that many of Mr Anderson’s blog posts show “an utter disdain for the supporters of open access and a tendency to impugn our motives”.

News of the appointment was “met with shock and widespread derision”, he added, since Mr Anderson will “not only set publishing policies at influential journals, he will also be seen…as the publishing representative of the scientific community” by policymakers.

Professor Eisen said it was “ironic” that Mr Anderson’s first task in his new role will be to launch the open access journal Science Advances, which will publish its first articles in February 2015.

The perception that Mr Anderson’s appointment indicates the AAAS’ hostility to open access has been heightened by the announcement of very high article fees for the new journal.

The basic fee will be $3,000, but an additional $1,500 will be charged for manuscripts of more than 10 pages, and an extra $1,000 for authors who want to use the CC BY licence. This allows full reuse of papers subject to attribution and is required by funders such as Research Councils UK. Most born-digital “mega-journals” charge much less. Plos One and Nature Publishing Group’s Scientific Reports charge $1,350, and PeerJ charges just $99 for the right to publish an article a year. However, Elsevier’s Cell Reports charges $5,000.

More than 100 scientists have signed an open letter to the AAAS urging it to cancel the extra charges.

A spokewoman for the AAAS described the $3,000 fee as “competitive” and said that the society “remains fully committed to open access publishing”.

paul.jump@tesglobal.com

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Reader's comments (3)

Professor Eisen describes Kent's amusing and informed blog as exhibiting "an utter disdain for the supporters of open access and a tendency to impugn our motives". If you replaced "open access" with "publishers", it could easily be a quote from Professor Eisen and others in the OA "movement". I often don't agree with the views in Scholarly Kitchen, and though it is critical, it is well-written and not prone to language of "The Struggle". And it certainly is no more disdainful than much of what the hyper-pro-OA blogs have to offer.
PRE-GREEN FOOL'S GOLD VS. POST-GREEN FAIR GOLD Plans by universities and research funders to pay the costs of Open Access Publishing ("Gold OA") are premature. Funds are short. Eighty percent of journals (including virtually all the top journals) are still subscription-based, tying up the potential funds to pay for Gold OA. The asking price for Gold OA is still arbitrarily inflated and is unaffordable double-payment for institutions that still have incoming journal subscriptions to pay, likewise overpriced (“Fool’s Gold). There is also concern that paying to publish may inflate acceptance rates and lower quality standards. What is needed now is for universities and funders to mandate OA self-archiving (of authors' final peer-reviewed drafts, immediately upon acceptance for publication) ("Green OA"). That will provide immediate OA. And if and when universal Green OA should go on to make subscriptions unsustainable (because users are satisfied with just the Green OA versions), that will in turn induce journals to cut costs (print edition, online edition, access-provision, archiving), downsize to just providing the service of peer review, and convert to the Gold OA cost-recovery model (“Fair Gold”). Meanwhile, the subscription cancellations will have released the funds to pay these residual service costs. The natural way to charge for the service of peer review then will be on a "no-fault basis," with the author's institution or funder paying for each round of refereeing, regardless of outcome (acceptance, revision/re-refereeing, or rejection). This will minimize cost while protecting against inflated acceptance rates and decline in quality standards. Unlike Pre-Green Fool’s Gold, Post-Green Fair Gold OA will be affordable and sustainable.
The open letter has been published at The Winnower and can be read and discussed here: https://thewinnower.com/papers/open-letter-to-the-american-association-for-the-advancement-of-science

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