Science: create your journal to be read at lower cost

It was November 24, 2020. Martijn van den Ende remembers well the message, posted on Twitter by one of the world’s two largest scientific journals, Nature. “Nature group journals will charge authors up to 9,500 euros to make scientific articles freely accessible, a long-awaited alternative”, we learn there.

To understand how such an amount can be presented as good news, we have to go back to how scientific publishing works. Two economic models dominate: that of subscription, where the reader pays to read, and that of open access, where articles can be consulted free of charge. And there, income from subscriptions disappear, hence the willingness of publishers to pass on the costs upstream.

Pay to make your work accessible

It is therefore the researchers who must pay fees to make their work accessible. “Except that the work of scientific editors is minimal when it comes to an online-only journal”points out Martijn van den Ende, geophysicist at the Interdisciplinary Institute of Artificial Intelligence (3IA Côte d’Azur). “The formatting is done by the authors themselves, the proofreading is carried out on a voluntary basis by other researchers in the same field, the famous proofreading by peers. »

The researchers recognize it, the citizens thus pay three times. To fund the research, to have it peer reviewed, and finally to have it published, or to read it.

“An online scientific journal actually costs less than €1,000 per year, in hosting and technical support costs”, encrypts the post-doc. With other geophysicists, he decided to launch his journal, Seismica. Dedicated to seismology, the publication should be online in early June and available “diamond”i.e. free to publish and read.

→ ZOOM. Scientific research: HAL, French-style free access

But then, where do the few hundred euros necessary for the operation of their review come from? Mainly from the Canadian university McGill, which has a program dedicated to open science. In France, the CNRS supports such initiatives and announced, at the beginning of February, an action plan for access “diamond”.


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