Sage cuts price of open-access journal

The publisher Sage has slashed the price of publishing in its flagship open-access journal to just $99 (£63) in the wake of concern about whether researchers in the humanities and social sciences will be able to afford to comply with the UK’s new open-access mandates.

January 24, 2013

Launched in May 2011, Sage Open applies the same approach to the humanities and social science as PLoS ONE has successfully applied to the sciences, with a cross-disciplinary remit and a rapid peer-review model which assesses papers only for their methodological validity rather than their significance.

Recognition that non-science academics often lacked specific research funding led the California-based commercial publisher to launch Sage Open with an article fee of just $695, compared with PLoS ONE’s $1,350 - and $5,000 at Elsevier’s Cell titles.

Sage Open has so far received more than 1,400 manuscripts, and published more than 160 articles. However, a recent survey of authors indicated that more than 70 per cent of Sage Open’s accepted authors had paid the article fee out of their own pocket, while only 15 per cent of all articles published in 2012 across Sage’s fleet of humanities and social sciences journals derived from research projects with allocated funding.

Bob Howard, vice-president of US journals at Sage also pointed to the Finch Report and Research Councils UK’s new open-access policy which, from April, will require all its funded research to be published in an open-access format.

Humanities and social science researchers in the UK are particularly concerned about plans by the funding councils, subject to a consultation in the spring, to require all articles submitted to the research excellence framework that comes after REF 2014 to be “as widely accessible as may be reasonably achievable”. There is no suggestion that they will top up the block grants that RCUK will provide to help cover article fees.

Mr Howard said he viewed Sage Open’s reduction of its article fee to $99 as “an investment in the future of open-access publishing in the social sciences”

“We will continue to adapt to our evolving landscape in order to better support humanities and social science scholars,” he said.

The biomedical open-access journal PeerJ, launched last year, allows researchers to publish a paper every year for a one-off fee of $99 - rising to $299 for a lifetime of unlimited publishing.

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