The question of how to finance peer reviewed journals has been around for a while. Entangled with this is the question of copyright ownership and open access.. There are basically two approaches. There is the reader fee approach and the author fee approach.. There are also a couple of hybrid approaches. Brill published journals like the Journal of Ancient Near Eastern Religions will allow open access for a $2,800.00 per paper fee from the author. For reference, the annual JANER individual subscription fee is currently $71.00. In the sciences, where publication costs are often included in grants, author fees like the $1,350.00 per paper charged by PLoS ONE are more common than in the humanities.
Nature and Scientific American is reporting on PeerJ, a new open access, peer reviewed, journal covering biological and medical sciences that will charge a onetime author fee of $299.00 “for unlimited open-access publications and submissions” – or as little as $99.00 lifetime for one paper per year. Here’s part of what Nature reports.
Relying on a custom-built, open-source platform to streamline its publication process, PeerJ aims to drive down the costs of research publishing, say its founders: Peter Binfield, who until recently was publisher of the world’s largest journal, PLoS ONE, and Jason Hoyt, who previously worked at the research-paper-sharing site Mendeley. Their involvement is a major reason for the buzz around PeerJ. “I thought — wow — if the people I’m hearing about are working there — that’s the sign of something happening. It makes it less crazy,” says John Wilbanks, an advocate of open access and a senior fellow at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation in Kansas City, Missouri.
As the article points out, this is but one of a number of experiments that seek to maintain the values of peer review in an open access world. We need a few more experiences like this in our disciplines. Some like the Journal of Hebrew Scripture and the new Journal for the Evangelical Study of the Old Testament are open access without author fees. But I doubt that this model will work over the long haul. There are costs involved. I would be willing to pay a onetime author fee in the $100.00 range but not in the $2,800.00 range.