13 November 2008

Cost and Benefits of OA (part 2) - Berlin 6

On to the other panelists ...

2. Matt Cockerill (Publisher, BioMedCentral)

BMC is one of the most prominent OA publishers and a profitable one - ever since its launch in 2000.

Cockerill starts by teasing out exactly what is fundamentally different / what distinguishes an OA publishing business model versus a traditional model. Traditional models, as we all know, involve a transfer of rights, and publishers cover their costs largely by selling access to the content. Under an OA publishing model, there are no barriers to access. The publisher does not acquire any exclusive rights, he says.

In terms of revenue streams for OA - in many ways they are similar to traditional publishing:
- via publication fees
- subscription content (for OA, sometimes special reviews issues that synthesize and add value to OA content)
- services (for BMC - they provide an open repository service that is a hosted digital repository platform)
- advertising (though it covers a very small percentage of cost, usually)
- implicit / explicit subsidy. All forms of scientific publishing are based on these kinds of support (take editors as volunteers for an example). Some costs are completely covered by the organization behind them. Some are not.
- some operate mixed models

He refers to IBM as an example of a change in business model - where in the early days the main revenue stream focus was on hardware and software, where now the majority of business these days are through services (more and more given away as open source)

OA fees do cover largely the same costs as traditional publishers (editorial, technical, production, marketing etc.) But BMC's price per article are much lower than some other journals in the space.

Cockerill tosses out the following numbers, price per article (BMC maintains this list, FYI). It's interesting to see it in context ...

BMC- $780-2100
PLoS- $1300-2850
Company of Biologists- $3100
OUP - $3000
Royal Society- ~$3000
Springer- ~3000

He closes with stating that the health and sustainability of OA as a model is really demonstrated by the number of options or avenues currently available. In 2000, BMC was the only choice - now, there are a multitude of options.

3. Salvatore Mele (CERN, SCOAP3)

"Open Access solutions in High Energy Physics must be a single, global solution, because the discipline is a global, scientific endeavor."

Mele gave a presenation on CERN's SCOAP3 effort (Sponsoring Consortium for Open Access Publishing in Particle Physics). They have been working to set up a consortium whose main goal is to support OA to High Energy Physics (HEP) by "re-directing" subscription money.

HEP is a field that is years ahead in terms of their ingrained practices for sharing data and literature. This approach pools the money normally budgeted out for subscription journals - the top in the field - and uses it to pay OA fees for authors and to make the information available.

More information about this approach can be found here on their Web site.

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